The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Miles Downard
Nissan’s Livina is no longer, Toyota still have the Avanza and Honda joined the cheap-7-seat-MPV party. But the reason we’re here is because Suzuki has updated its player in the segment, the Ertiga.
It’s been with us for a while now, the Ertiga, is largely based on the Suzuki Swift. The benefit is that the Ertiga offers a more car-like driving experience, while maintaining the versatility and practicality of an MPV that carries seven people. So what’s changed?
On the outside
Not much. The addition of PDC (or Park Distance Control) is welcome, given the length of the Ertiga. Otherwise the Japanese firm has added some chrome to the bumpers, which incidentally have been ‘sculpted’. Overall though this is probably one of the Ertiga’s redeeming factors. Whilst all MPV’s look somewhat like a breadbox, the carryover from the Suzuki Swift makes this the least breadboxed shape of the lot. It also sits lower on the road, which not only improves aesthetics, but also goes someway in reducing body roll.
On the inside
As the photos depict, the interior is a sea of beige and black. It’s not to my taste – and I’d be surprised to find many to whom this appeals. Unfortunately it’s not even redeemed by the possibility of being durable – in fact beige, alongside white, must be the worst colour for fabric on which loads of kiddies are likely to sit.
The most important factor of any MPV is its ability to carry people and luggage. With all seven seats in place, luggage capacity is understandably limited. Five school bags might be stretching those limits, for example. But you can carry seven full size people in there.
Stow the back row of seats away, which now fold individually and luggage space increases dramatically. And there are neat hidden storage compartments under the floor for other bits and bobs. In fact it is impressive that the Swift platform can be made into something of these generous proportions; a trick largely accomplished by placing the wheels in the far corners of the Ertiga to minimise their intrusion. There’s also some new kit on offer in the form of an improved radio with Bluetooth, USB etc.
Behind the wheel
This is one area that the Ertiga does excel over the competition. It feels much more like a car than the Avanza, for example. That said, almost anything feels more car-like than an Avanza, perhaps even a bus.
Read also: Toyota Avanza revamped – is it enough?
The Ertiga is powered by Suzuki’s tried and tested 1.4 litre four pot, which is best described as fizzy, while its most redeeming factor the impressive fuel economy. It’s not particularly powerful and requires some stirring of the gearbox to get a move on. Despite this, Suzuki has had the Ertiga approved to tow 550kg. I wouldn’t like to attempt this with a full cabin, though.
At just shy of R210 000 the Ertiga offers very good value. The Honda is a bit cheaper but is equipped like an Albanian prison, while the Toyota is more expensive and I’d sooner suggest taking the bus.
You don’t have much choice if you’re in the market for an MPV. Toyota’s offering will hold its value somewhat better, but it’s not as good to look at and the driving experience is undoubtedly worse. The Honda may be the best looker in the segment but lacks features. To me that leaves only one choice.
|Engine:||1,373cc four cylinder petrol|
|Consumption (l/100km):||6.6l (claimed)|
|Service:||4yr/60 000km service plan|
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.