Most who know me know that I like the Suzuki brand, especially the Jimny. The reason for this is that I'm yet to drive a Suzuki that I didn't like. In April when the new Ciaz was released I went past my mate's dealership to have a look at one up close and I was surprised by it's size, it's not a small car, it's a full-sized sedan and it looks good too. I say that I was surprised by it's size not because it's too big or has weird proportions, it's more like seeing the size of the car compared to the sales price. I expected something a lot smaller. There are three models in the range and the starting price is R182 500. Do you see why I thought what I thought? A full sized sedan at that price doesn't make sense. The logical conclusion must then be that the car is terrible...
Well, it's not, it's a good car, inside and out. From the front it's a typical Suzuki, it looks like the rest of the cars in the range, you can see the Swift / Splash / Celerio DNA in it straight away. The black spotlight surrounds and front air damn look good below that Suzuki S emblazoned grille. Checking out the car from the side is where you get to see the proper size of the car. It measures in at 4490mm in length and what's really nice is the fact that someone at Suzuki actually took the time to design a decent shape for the Ciaz instead of taking a previously used hatchback and tacking a butt on it. The lines are good. The base Ciaz GL rolls on steelies with hubcaps while the GLX has some nice 16-inch alloys in a dark shade of silver. Here's where I add my usual rant about all cars needing at least 17s... Round back the taillights look great, the shape and style works well. A few of the new Japanese sedans look a little sad at the rear, they could take a design cue from Suzuki here. The bootlid design has a sort of incorportated spoiler to the shape, sort of like the Kizashi has, but not as pronounced. Black surround fogs in the rear bumper look good too, they stand out on the Snow Pearl White colour of the test car. Back to the boot...
495 litres is the capacity of that boot on the Suzuki Ciaz. That's enough space to fit roughly 3.5 James Barnes' - 4 at a push. So this means that for a family that wants to go on holiday with the Ciaz there will be more than enough space to fit everything needed, and then some. Even with such a large boot, there's been no compromise on the space for the rear passengers. There's space for 5 occupants in the Ciaz, and they don't need to be short to make them fit. I'm short so when taller people need to climb in the back they usually opt for sitting behind the driver's seat because they have leg room. In the Ciaz it didn't matter, a 6-footer in the passenger seat still left space for another 6-footer seated at the back. Space is one thing the Suzuki Ciaz has plenty of.
The test model was the GLX which is the higher spec'd version. It somes it at a very affordable R202 500 and shares the same spec features as the top of the range model, the only difference that the tag of R217 500 gets you is an automatic gearbox. The interior is also pretty good, there's leather all round and the front seats are a nice design that are pretty comfortable. I easily got them into a position I was happy with. The layout of everything works well and the Ciaz has steering controls for the radio as well as the Bluetooth hands free kit. There's chrome accents all over the cabin and they look good, they give the interior an upmarket feel, which is great in an affordable car. They match the plastic inserts that run along the dash and on the door panels, also a nice touch you wouldn't expect in this car. The Suzuki Ciaz has power windows, climate control, auxilary and USB jacks, an onboard computer with fuel stats, ABS, EBD and also dual airbags up front. That's a fair bit of kit in this price range. I'd just look at adding in a aftermarket cruise control system because with that in place, the Ciaz wants for nothing.
One thing that I was quite surprised about was the engine in the Suzuki Ciaz. After the car was dropped off I took it for a quick drive and it felt cool, pretty punchy and easy to rev. The ratios of the 5-speed box put that 1.6 VVTi motor to good work I thought. I was wrong, it turns out the Ciaz doesn't have a 1.6, but instead a smaller capacity KB14B, a 1400cc lump making 70kW (at 6000rpm) with 130Nm (at 4000rpm). It's quite odd really, because it's the biggest Suzuki there is but it doesn't feel heavy or like it needs a bigger motor. I'd prefer if the rev limit was a little higher up, it limits at 6200rpm or so and gets there quick. On overtaking, gearing down and adding gas gets you into the power band quite quickly and when you hit the limiter it's like the motor jumps on teh brakes. This isn't a bad thing though, it makes the motor pretty bulletproof and keeps it running as it should. The car is again typically Suzuki when it comes to fuel consumption. I took the Ciaz to the far side of Pretoria and it liked the long road a fair bit. By the time I returned to Randburg the gauge was telling me that the car was covering an average of 17.4 kilometeres for every litre of petrol used. This was at legal speeds throughout the journey and involved a lot of overtaking as opposed to being overtaken which is what you might expect with figures like that. That's just nuts, it's 5.7 litres/100km, so the 43 litre tank can get you some pretty good mileage.
So yeah, you know that I like Suzuki but my favourable review on the car is a lot more about the car than liking the brand. This car is great for someone on a tight budget who wants a nice, new and modern sedan. It would also suit a young family looking for a car that can safely and reliably get them from A to B. Another perfect application for the car is for an Uber taxi fleet - the rules do say that you need to have a sedan and not a hatchback, and this car foots the bill and then some. In my week with the car the people who had a look at it were as surprised as I was with the spec level and build quality of the car. A few people also asked if it's a car that I could live with daily, and yeah, I could. I know there are more ins and outs that go along with a Car of the Year competition, but when I was but a wee one, this is exactly the kind of car that I thought a COTY winner should be. Modern, safe, spacious, good looking and more importantly, affordable. It's worth checking out!
Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GL 5MT - R182 500
Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GLX 5MT- R202 500*
Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GLX 4AT - R217 500
The Suzuki Ciaz comes standard with a 3-year/60 000km Service Plan and a 3-year/100 000km warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.
Check out the spec sheet below for more info or head on over to www.suzukiauto.co.za