When the Ertiga was launched two years ago, it created a new segment of compact, family-oriented MPVs in India. Yes, we did have MPVs—multi-purpose vehicles such as Toyota Innova and Mahindra Xylo—but these were big and occupied a lot of space on the road. Agreed, an Innova is a people-mover, but how practical an Innova is for a nuclear family that needs a seven-seater for that once-in-a-week trip out of town? Moreover, an Innova costs upwards of R10 lakh. So, two years ago, Maruti did what it does best—make a vehicle small and relatively affordable, in this case an MPV. Since then, the Ertiga has enjoyed a ‘sweet spot’ in the Indian market and has successfully tackled competition in the form of Chevrolet Enjoy, Nissan Evalia and, of course, the Innova and Xylo. But, soon enough, it is going to face some ‘real’ competition—in the form of the Honda Mobilio. We spend a few days with the Ertiga and here’s what we feel about this compact MPV.
The Ertiga, which resembles both the Ritz and the Swift from some quarters, is a decent looking car. Its compactness is apparent from the front itself—looking at it head on, one may not be able to make out if it is a seven-seater vehicle. Step inside and the cabin is almost exactly like the Swift Dzire’s. Beige interiors mean there is that feeling of space in the cabin. Although it is a compact MPV, the space inside, especially at the front two rows, is generous. The third row, however, is best suited for kids and one has to push the middle row forward to make some legroom. (Probably that’s why Maruti calls the Ertiga a 5+2 seater, to differentiate those 2 last seats from the rest of the car!) But the third row isn’t unusable—it makes for an excellent luggage space. One nice touch is that there are ample cubbyholes for all passengers and the top two variants get second row AC. The spare tyre is mounted below the body and mounting and unmounting it can be an issue if you encounter a flat tyre. Overall, while the cabin scores good on usability, if Maruti can somehow make more space in the third row, the Ertiga will emerge as a complete MPV.
Behind the wheel
One question many people ask is: Does an MPV drive like a car? The honest answer is: Not all MPVs are