Johannesburg - We came this close to successfully loading a three-quarter bed in the Suzuki Ertiga. We wiggled, jiggled and tilted the bed, but it remained just 1cm too wide for the lip of the door frame. Frustrating, but the mere fact that I happily drove down to the local furniture store planning to load a three-quarter bed speaks volumes for the practicality and space of this 7-seater. And admittedly the Ertiga would swallow a single bed with ease.
MADE FOR LIFE?
Suzuki calls its first foray into the budget people-mover class a Life Utility Vehicle, but essentially it’s a mini-MPV with three rows of seats which can carry up to seven adults in some degree of comfort.
On test was the range-topping 5-speed manual Ertiga 1.4 GLX which competes head-on with Toyota’s Avanza 1.5 SX. With a R192 900 price tag the Suzuki wins on cost coming in at exactly R32 000 under the Avanza. But in the power stakes the Avanza’s 1.5-litre engine with 76kW and 136Nm of torque trumps the Suzuki’s 70kW and 130Nm.
SPACE AND COMFORT
The Ertiga GLX is all about practicality for the family on the go while providing a fair amount of comfort thanks to the comprehensive spec levels.
Seats are beige cloth which contrast well with the black plastics used on the dashboard, although the light-coloured seats may show signs of hard use when used as a mom’s taxi on the school run.
This range-topping model comes standard with features such as air-conditioner, central locking, electric windows and power steering.
Satellite controls for the audio system with CD tuner and MP3 are found on the steering wheel, although it does not have cruise control. The USB port is handy for plugging in memory sticks for music and is a welcome addition to new Suzuki models, as my 4-year old SX4 comes sans USB port.
The steering wheel can be adjusted for height, but not for reach, although it was still possible to find a comfortable driving position.
It’s just a pity that the Ertiga has no centre arm rest as in the SX4, as this would make long trips all the more comfortable.
There is sufficient roof space and leg room for adult passengers, although obtaining access to the third row requires a fairly nimble person as the second row of seats has to be tilted forwards to allow access, much the same as with the rear seats of a coupé.
Roof mounted aircon vents above the second row of seats help keep passengers cool.
As with most MPVs, luggage space is minimal when the three rows of seats are in use, with just 135 litres of space available.
This problem would be solved with a small trailer, though. But owners would rarely use the third row of seats and with this lowered there is a much more useful 482 litres of space.
The second row of seats has a 60:40 split making it quite versatile for long items such as surfboards. Lower the second and third rows of seats and the MPV is transformed into a panelvan capable of swallowing 736 litres of cargo. Further space is saved by the full-sized spare wheel being mounted under the chassis.
Another handy feature is a hidden 22-litre storage space under the false floor where a person can stash items such as laptops.
The Ertiga is sprightly enough unloaded zipping along at the speed limit on the highway. But the 1.4-litre may find it harder going when fully loaded with seven adults, especially at altitude.
In a week of doing the commuter cycle which included some highway and town driving, the Ertiga proved quite economical matching the manufacturer’s claims of 6.6l/100km. We’ve found Suzuki gearshifts to be precise and the Ertiga is no exception, although the reverse gear was a bit notchy.
The driving experience is pretty much what one would expect from such a vehicle, with a fairly soft ride and reasonable cornering ability, although this is not a vehicle for throwing around corners.
This little Suzuki bus is just the ticket for the large family, whether schlepping the kids to school or on an outing to the zoo.
It may be a bit bland and not stand out from the crowd, but it has loads of practicality with a fair amount of comfort as well. And it is competitively priced making it a bit easier on the wallet.
The Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 GLX comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty, a four-year/60 000km service plan and 1-year roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 15 000km. -Star Motoring
Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 GLX
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Power: 70kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 130Nm @ 4000rpm
Consumption (claimed): 6.6 litres per 100km
Price: R192 900
Warranty: Three-year/100 000km
Service plan: Four-year/60 000km
FAW Sirius 1.5 Comfort (75kW/140Nm) - R189 995
Mahindra Xylo 2.2 CRDe (89kW/290Nm) - R209 995
Toyota Avanza 1.5 TX (76kW/136Nm) - R226 900