Well this is something different for me, the facelifted Suzuki Ertiga. As usual, it's a good offering from the brand and it can do very well in SA. It's a car made for travel, or more specifically, helping people travel, which is a South African thing through and through. Taxis and Uber-style services need spacious cars with a fuel efficient powertrain, oddly enough that's exactly how you'd describe the Ertiga. There is a 3rd requirement though, that of cost, and again, the Ertiga splashes a fat tick across that box.
The exterior looks of the Ertiga are typically Suzuki, it shares design cues with the rest of the range. It's not particularly pretty, but transporters rarely are. That said, more than a few people have commented that it would be something interesting to modify and be seen it at aftermarket shows. A suspension slam, some decent wheels, dark windows and a banging sound install can be wicked (Hi Chazlin). It's been classed as a LUV, a lifestyle utility vehicle and it will suit a lot of lifestyles I'm sure. On GL models, the new front design gets exclusive chrome highlights on the grille and bumper, repeated at the rear with an included embossed chrome piece reading 'Ertiga' just above the number plate. There's also a new hubcap design and colour-coded electronically adjustable/folding side mirrors as standard. Suzuki has approved a tow-rating of 550kg, so a full family can travel to their holiday destination in comfort with all their goods in tow.
The Ertiga features a seven-seater setup, and there's actually a fair amount of space for all the passengers. When it's 5-up the space is even better thanks to the rear seats being on a rail system - you can transport five 6-footers with ease - and still have a boot - did someone say Uber? One thing that catches your attention straight off the bat is the light interior. A light beige and cream covers every surface. I liked it, it's different, but it is the only drawback to the Ertiga. It's made to transport families and people, but expecting them to keep the car clean is wishful thinking - especially if the intended use is as a taxi. There is light (or is that dark?) at the end of that tunnel though - while Suzuki overseas isn't budging on the interior colour scheme, local dealers can sometimes offer you the option of a darker interior done though an external company, included in the finance. I spotted one at Northgate with a full black interior, only the steering wheel was left white. Trust South Africans to make a plan!
So much space!
Inside there's a heap of changes. We find an immobiliser, aircon, electronic power steering, dual airbags, rear PDC, a 12v socket and ABS with EBD. On the audio front the system plays louder and better (better than in a few other Suzuki models actually) and Bluetooth has been added as well as MP3, USB and iPod integration. The seating now sees the 3rd row bench being able to split 50/50 as opposed to the older model's solid folding seat. Space is plentiful - interior space is 2 665mm on a platform length of only 4 265mm - it's a true seven-seater and with an effective load capacity of 736 litres when the two rear passenger seat rows are folded flat.
All Ertiga models are powered by Suzuki’s well-known 1.4-litre K14B engine. It's not big but it does the job just right. With electronic fuel injection and variable valve timing, it produces 70kW and 130Nm - most of the available higher in the rev range, which is what makes these Suzukis fun to drive. Once again Suzuki claims just 6.6-litres/100km but I had it in the high 5s - still no love for Sasol here. The gearbox work well, it's actually a little more notchy than expected, so changing fast is fun, although when you do nail it from the lights in an Ertiga you do get some odd stares. There is a 4-speed auto option too, which would probably be best if this was used in a fleet of some sort. With the GL being upgraded like this, the GLX falls away leaving only a GA model to accompany it.
The Ertiga is cool, I put it to good use during the week I had it. It did everything needed, including ferrying kids around. It's like the rest of the Suzuki range, a good car. For those wanting a transporter for commercial use, this is well worth a look. For an affordable, reliable family holiday car, the Ertiga can work well. There are other options out there besides the usual, I reckon this has the potential to take a chunk out of Toyota Avanza sales.
Ertiga 1.4 GA Manual R176 900
Ertiga 1.4 GL Manual R202 900
Ertiga 1.4 GL Auto R218 900
The Suzuki Ertiga comes with a 4-year/60 000km service plan and 3-year/100 000km warranty on all models.