The market for family movers in the Philippines has always been a tough nut to crack. Minus going for the usual AUV offerings some discerning consumers still look for the comfortable characteristics of their beloved sedans. That expectation usually also includes higher ground clearance, more space for people and gear, and still get good fuel consumption – that’s where the modern MPV segment comes into play. Suzuki’s bet in this high stakes game is the Ertiga (which means Swift with three rows). We spent a good week with the 2016 GLX AT to see whether they’ve done enough to up the ante against its rivals.
Looks – 7/10
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The Ertiga’s exterior is definitely an acquired taste. Like what it’s name suggests it emulates the Swift’s looks but in a bigger body. In order for it to obtain it’s more utility-centric guise, it had to lose some of its smaller brethren’s sleekness. This means that it isn’t as sexy but it isn’t too much of an eyesore either.
While form may not have necessarily been the main consideration when it was conceived, you can tell that it definitely leans more towards practicality – doors and rear hatch open wide and is easily accessed.
This is where the Ertiga definitely has a leg up compared to it’s competition. You can tell that Suzuki did their homework on the layout and finish of the dashboard and auxillary controls. It’s not pretentious – flat gray panels over a cream interior that works. It still attracts more dirt than the normal dark gray or black interiors but not as bad as the lighter beige ones I have been in.
The “bigger Swift” objective? This is where it is clearly evident. The second row seats can comfortably accommodate bigger passengers in relative comfort and ease. The third row should be reserved for kids or smaller passengers since the leg room can be quite the squeeze if there are hefty occupants in the middle row. But if you’re not going to use that area to haul more folks, folded down it does provide a considerable amount of real estate for other paraphernalia.
The only qualm I have are the missing arm rest and extra center cup holders for the front rows. Other than that it is a good, albeit vanilla, place to be in.
Driving Experience – 6/10
The Ertiga’s sitting position is an interesting proposition. It’s biased towards a more upright orientation to combat sitting fatigue during long drives (or even longer bouts in traffic). While this is a more ergonomically positive position, it does leave you with a sense of feeling that you’re on the car rather than being in it.
It also does not like to cruise above 80kph on the expressway. Going beyond this speed penalizes your Fuel Consumption greatly. And with the added heft at the midsection and rear it does not make for great aerodynamics either as evidenced by an immediate decrease on your cruising speed when you take your foot off the accelerator.
Sharing the same 1.4L engine and transmission from the Ciaz, you can definitely feel the engine’s efforts to lug the Ertiga around. While it doesn’t necessarily struggle it does consume a bit more fuel than its lighter stable mate. Its official DOE numbers clocked in at 22.03 km/L but it’s real world performance was, sadly, considerably less. The best realistic economy figures we got was 9.57 km/L – this was from a mix of traversing Metro Manila’s infamous traffic and our day trip to Subic up north.
Technology – 8/10
Suzuki is definitely on a roll with their new android system. Spend a few minutes with it and you can immediately sync your phone to receive calls and play your favorite songs on Spotify. The unit tested also did not have much lag even if I purposely tried to get it confused by aggressively switching from one app to another.
The FOB integration which activates the nicely executed and placed Start/Stop button and exterior unlock buttons on the front driver/passenger doors and rear hatch definitely saves its users precious seconds whenever you try to gain access to it. This is very practical especially when you are opening doors with either a bag of groceries or your dog in one hand.
Cost – 6/10
The GLX model we tested came with all of Suzuki’s bells and whistles. Being top spec means that it isn’t the cheapest of the Ertiga line up. Costing Php 918,000 it is quite a jump from it’s more affordable siblings.
GA Manual – Php665,000
GL Manual – Php759,000
GL Automatic – Php799,000
GLX Automatic – Php918,000
The only notable difference the GLX has from the GL is the extra exterior trim pieces, steering wheel mounted controls, and the start/stop button. Is it worth the extra Php119,000? Depends on who you ask, but I want to get a bit more with that extra cost.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The Ertiga is a solid family MPV for driving around the city, visiting nearby areas, and going on the occasional grocery run. It’s folding third row seat can definitely accommodate a multitude of uses from carrying a load of your precious cargo or more precious, smaller, passengers. The 1.4L engine mated to the available 4 speed automatic is more than sufficient to handle these daily tasks – just make sure that you understand what it can and cannot do since pushing it to its limits can start becoming a costly fuel exercise.
We enjoyed our time with the Ertiga and we suggest it as a strong contender for your MPV needs. Unfortunately the GLX variant only got a rating of 2 out of 5 jacks with a score of 66% because of the driving experience and as tested cost. I expected the bigger iteration of the Swift to have been a bit livelier during our drive up north and to have a more bang for the buck type of feel which it did not.
With the stiff competition from Honda and Toyota trying to lure in prospective buyers in the top tier MPV segment Suzuki could have added something more for way less. The variant that we highly recommend though is the lower spec GL automatic. We found that it is the best compromise of all the offerings and it comes considerably equipped (minus the above mentioned GLX bits) for the price.