Everyone loves 7-seater MPVs, right? The sheer number of available options in the Philippines is a testament to that, but if there’s one model that’s consistently grown in following, it’s the Ertiga. With the launch of the Ertiga Hybrid, we can expect that number to grow more in the next couple of months.
Aside from being mildly “electrified”, it still retains the same winning formula that’s won countless of buyers and owners over, and we’re here to look at what makes this model “same, same, but different”.
The Ertiga Hybrid joined the electrification bandwagon, and that’s a good thing
Let’s begin with the Ertiga Hybrid’s looks, shall we? On the front, you see a newly-designed grill with a lot of shiny chrome bits arranged in a sort of geometric pattern, with the “S” badge of Suzuki still taking center stage. The headlight assemblies and the overall shape of the bumper remain the same, though. That said, this Ertiga still does not come equipped with DRLs and are still using halogen bulbs for the headlights as well as the foglights.
On the side, you’ll see that this is literally still the same shell of the previous Ertiga model. Not much has changed when looking at the Ertiga Hybrid from this angle, except for the new two-tone alloy wheels that come with this variant, the GLX. The greenhouse remains the same, along with the chrome window trim and chrome door handles. Really, there’s not much to write home about from this point of view.
As for the rear, though, you get a mildly redesigned tailgate. The chrome strip is no longer above the license plate mounting and instead is now on the bulge of the “winglet” if you will. The makings of an actual “wing” – AKA the bulge – on the top of the tailgate are still there, and while the reflector pieces in the taillight assemblies have received a minor touch-up, the bumper remains the same, too.
Hopping inside the Ertiga Hybrid you’ll be greeted by a most familiar sight. It’s very safe to say that everything from the previous-gen Ertiga and some bits from the XL7 has been carried over into the Hybrid version.
The dashboard is the same one, with the biggest difference being the faux wood accent pieces. The previous generation had brown trim, and the Ertiga Hybrid has gone the same route albeit with a stained black finish on both the dash and steering wheel. The climate control used here has been borrowed from the XL7, though. No more clunky rotary dials because now the Ertiga Hybrid has buttons for air conditioning. Okay, the fan speed and thermostat are still dials, but this is the way to go in keeping up with a modern feel.
Oh, and the Ertiga Hybrid comes with Cruise Control and the toggles for which are found on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Again, hooray for modern additions and doodads!
The gauge cluster has likewise been updated in the Ertiga Hybrid. From what was a dual-analog dial unit finished in black, a splash of blue was added that makes it look livelier and younger. The multi-information display has likewise been retained and has the same information available on the XL7, with the addition of a hybrid operation screen that shows the batteries’ charge, charging state, and the activation of the automatic start-stop function. It’s very simple to cycle through, and very straightforward with the details that it can show. Not a bad thing at all.
Fabric remains to be the upholstery of choice for the Ertiga Hybrid across all its variants. The only difference is the design that this GLX shares with the GL variant. You get a combination of dark gray and black inside the GLX with the main seats, backrest, and headrest wrapped with a patterned fabric.
You’ll also find a lot of plastic inside the cabin. There are few if any soft-touch points and the door cards are hard plastic. They don’t take much away from the overall motif and feel of the Ertiga Hybrid, though. Those who are already used to Suzuki being an affordable choice can easily understand the minimalist approach to the materials, but it’s this particular choice that makes a Suzuki so easy to buy and own. And that’s a good thing.
In terms of occupant comfort, the Ertiga Hybrid is still the same 7-seater MPV. Overall, the padding on the seats is decent at best. To be honest, I’m not sure if the foam has been changed, but being stuck in the driver’s seat for a long time (in traffic) proved to be a tad bit uncomfortable. Scooting a wee bit side to side if you’re a passenger in all the other seats is easy, but as the driver, my, err, rear end was left wanting for a bit more cushioning.
Passengers being mentioned, all the other seats were padded enough. Lateral support in the seats’ side bolsters is just enough, but in the event of a very quick jerk of the steering wheel, you’ll definitely slide about. Maybe this is something that Suzuki can remedy in a future update.
In terms of space, seating 7 is something that the Ertiga Hybrid can do with ease. Granted that the middle seat in the middle row is a bit narrow, you can still fit 3 individuals, regardless. We usually say that the 3rd row should be reserved for children, but the space in the back of the Ertiga Hybrid is quite impressive. Impressive enough that 2 full-sized adults (of Asian proportions) can fit easily and comfortably.
Cargo space comes aplenty in the Ertiga Hybrid, too. Given that it’s basically the same as the previous generation, you get the same 153-liter capacity in the trunk with the 3rd row up. Folding the 3rd-row seats flat will give you a whole lot more space to work with, though, which has always been a plus for any 7-seater MPV.
The concealed storage underneath the trunk floorboard has been retained as well, so for those who have to stow things away from prying eyes, this is a pretty neat feature. Oh, and if you need more space, the middle row folds, too. Whether you are interested in getting an Ertiga for ferrying people or carrying cargo, you won’t find space to be an issue at all, that’s for sure.
And now we get to the most important part, the Ertiga Hybrid’s driving performance.
We’ll start off with its suspension, and ride feel. Same as before, the suspension leans a wee bit towards the stiffer side. It gives off a bit of vibration that you can really feel especially on rough patches of road, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s a bit bouncy with just a driver and 1 more on the front passenger seat, but the ride quality does even out with an added 1 or 2 passengers in the middle row. Remember, this is a 7-seater, so the suspension’s been tuned to make way for more passengers and/or cargo.
The handling isn’t sporty by any means, but it is responsive enough. It is what you would expect of a Suzuki product and an MPV, and we say that in no bad way at all. It won’t excite you as much as a regular car, nor will it kick you back in the seat with monstrous acceleration, but you get enough to feel the wheels and the road.
That being mentioned, let’s get to something that has also been carried over from the old Ertiga, and that’s the brake pedal feel. No, the brakes are not weak, it’s just the pedal travel is a little bit too far and the brakes seem to engage later than I would personally find ideal. The brakes are strong, but you’ll just have to step on the pedal a bit further to get it to bite. Not really a downer, but we hope it’s something that Suzuki can address in the future.
Powering the Ertiga Hybrid is the same K15B engine. It’s a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC gasoline-fed engine that puts out 103 HP and 138 Nm of torque. As far as the engine’s performance alone is concerned, it gives just the exact amount of pep and pull. But now that the Ertiga Hybrid is a Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki, a major change has been made to the engine, and that’s the swapping out of a traditional alternator to that of an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG). And that is what gives this Ertiga its mild-hybrid feature.
In a nutshell, the ISG recoups energy from braking and deceleration, which it sends up to charge the batteries. The batteries, in turn, are responsible for keeping necessary functions such as the air conditioning running when the Auto Start-Stop function engages. It’s the Auto Start-Stop that cuts off the engine, thereby cutting its fuel consumption, all while the batteries take over essential functions. Oh, and if we’re to add another point for improvement, there is quite a strong shudder when the engine comes back on after an automatic stop, and the throttle response isn’t as quick. This is more nitpicking but we hope that can be smoothened out.
So now that we’ve mentioned fuel consumption, the Ertiga Hybrid easily did 10.7 kilometers per liter in daily driving conditions, heavy traffic included. We weren’t even trying to light-foot our way to a good figure, and that is pretty impressive. An open stretch along the Skyway gave me about 14.6 kilometers per liter, and that number will improve even more on longer highway runs, for sure. So as far as being a “hybrid” goes, the Ertiga does it pretty well.
At its PHP 1,153,000 price tag, the 2023 Ertiga Hybrid GLX does tick all the right boxes. But really, if we are to be realistic, its good features are enough to make anyone consider purchasing it, but the icing on the cake is its being exempted from the UVVRP, more commonly known as MMDA Coding, which Suzuki bravely declared during its launch.
If we are to digress for a little bit, the only criterion for any vehicle to be exempted from the Coding scheme is to have “HYBRID” indicated under the Fuel Type section of its LTO registration, and the Ertiga Hybrid has exactly that indicated. So yes, you can use it every single weekday without worrying about being flagged down, or worse, having to find a “coding car” that equates to a lot more money. How’s that for a selling point?
So does Suzuki (still) have a winning package in the Ertiga Hybrid? The answer is a definite yes. We’ve mentioned time and again that it hasn’t changed much, but the devil is in the details. Minor cosmetic updates inside and out were tastefully implemented, and being a (mild) hybrid comes with a lot more benefits compared to those that aren’t, and all these rolled into one are reasons enough to strongly consider the Ertiga Hybrid as your next vehicle purchase.