Maruti Suzuki Ritz Diesel - Practical Pocket Rocket
I have a Maruti Suzuki Ritz diesel, which (the model) is nearing its demise in India, as it will be replaced with incoming Suzuki Ignis later this year or early 2017. So it comes more like a well-timed tribute to the ideal city hatch.
Introduced in 2009, it the diesel model has the same 1.3 litre Multijet motor that produces 74 bhp and 190 Nm of torque. The same Fiat sourced motor is found in a wide variety of cars in India, but Maruti has managed to tune it just fine to strike a balance between drivability and fuel efficiency. The same motor in Swift is tuned a little more sporty, and when the turbo kicks in past 2000 rpm, you get a nice dose of torque kicking in instantly. This made it a delight and auto enthusiast's favourite. Ritz, on the other hand, has more linear power delivery, and the torque is served throughout the power band. This linear power delivery impressed me, makes it boon to drive in the city as well as on highways. The diesel motor can easily maintain triple-digit speeds with the tachometer reading just 2200 all day long. This, in turn, results in excellent fuel-efficiency. I constantly average close 16 km/l in stop-go city traffic in Delhi and more 23 km/l in most of my highway runs. The engine is pretty much silent even at idle but gets audible during those high-speed runs. With the windows rolled up, the good cabin insulation makes sure you barely hear anything inside.
Ride and Handling
Being a tall-boy, Ritz is no exceptional handler. It rolls about a bit, but that is fairly contained when compared to cars like the WagonR or i10. The additional weight definitely helps in this regard. Straight stability, even at high speeds is impressive, only when you have to take a sharp turn at high speeds, you become conscious of its height and might have to slow it down to say 60 km/h. Ride quality is good, even at the rear. The suspension soaks up most of the road imperfections and the 170 mm of ground clearance ensures that you glide over most the broken road surfaces.
Space, Features and Practicality
During its time, the Ritz was a very spacious alternative to the Swift. The rear has more legroom and headroom. The huge glass area makes sure its airy inside. The higher seating position means easier ingress and egress and you get a good view out of the driver's seat. The boot is fairly well sized, but the loading lip is high and you really have to lift your luggage in and out of the boot.
The Vdi version comes with all around power windows, music system and tachometer mounted on the dashboard. That dashboard tachometer and large motorcycle themed speedometer console really looks funky and easily legible. You really don't have to take your eyes away from the road to look at the tachometer.
All in all, the Ritz was a good precursor to the premium hatches of now.
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