2018 Maruti Suzuki Ciaz First Drive Review: More Power, More Bling
Maruti Suzuki’s latest philosophy in terms of designing its cars has been very pragmatic. It’s trying to give today’s consumers more elegance with minimal bulk. That’s going to be Maruti’s approach from here on.
The Quint was invited for the first drive of the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Ciaz in Bengaluru. The moment I saw the transformation that the mid-range sedan had gone through, it did look like Maruti was looking to work on past mistakes.
Apart from the new design, I was more intrigued about the new K-series 1.5-litre petrol engine that Maruti has put in this car. So, it was time to pack my bags and head to Bengaluru to test drive the new Ciaz.
No More a ‘Babu’s Car’
Considering the Ciaz is a favourite among bureaucrats, who enjoy spending most of their time in the spacious rear of the car, this time around the car adds more elegance on the outside without compromising on space. Surely, it’s going to get more fans now – apart from most of the sarkari babus.
The headlamp cluster has been completely revamped with a black mesh style front grille and chrome embellishments. It looks smarter and sportier.
The top model also receives LED DRL (daytime running lights) while the projector lens and a set of fog lamps at the front and rear. The fog lamps too come with chrome accents giving the car a very corporate-like look and feel. The 16-inch alloy wheels add to that elegance.
The tail light assembly gets LED strips and subtly resembles that of the BMW 3 Series. Or let’s just say inspired from the same. Looks rather classy.
Suzuki Ciaz: A ‘Space’ Odessey
The whole setup looks much sharper but you’ll still be able to tell that it’s a Ciaz. Wheelbase at 2,650mm remains exactly the same to still exude the ‘badi gaadi’ feeling. It can very easily fit 5 people. The fact that it makes head turns tells us that Maruti has done a decent job with the design.
The car has ample boot space of 510-litres which can easily accommodate 2-3 large travel bags. The trunk lid too gets chrome garnish, but only on the top Alpha variant.
Ground clearance looks to be adequate although the base did end up touching some of the more prominent speed breakers.
What’s on the Inside?
Let’s venture into what is familiar territory for the Ciaz. The dashboard and the instrument cluster have a very familiar look to that of the older variant. The subtle addition of the faux wooden inserts do make the deal a bit classy, but the cabin still gives that “I have been here before” feeling.
What’s new is that the steering gets new controls, like cruise control and feels sleeker in the hands.
The infotainment system as before brings with it a buggy interface and viewing angle that’s not very comfortable in bright lit conditions.
A 4.2-inch TFT colour screen on the instrument cluster debuts on the new Ciaz which displays all the necessary information like fuel efficiency, trip info and more. The tachometer and the speedometer carry the conventional old design.
The upholstery too hasn’t undergone any changes and sports a beige leather finish. This is an open invitation to a lot of smudges and dust. Even the floormats are the same colour.
The car comes with automatic climate control and also retractable shades for the rear window on the Zeta and the Alpha variants.
One thing I liked that Maruti hasn’t changed is the ample amount of space the rear passenger gets. It’s a cavernous area and can easily accommodate 3 people. Also there is ample headroom at the back.
Driving the New Ciaz
I drove both the 4-speed torque-converter automatic and the 5-speed manual variants as both come with the all-new 1.5 litre K15B-series engine, which pumps out 105 bhp of power and 138 Nm of torque.
Power delivery till 2,000 rpm is quite linear on the manual variant while I can’t say the same for the automatic. I feel the automatic is ideal for someone who would just like to feather the throttle and forget the tension of shifting the stick again and again. There is a slight jerk one feels when trying to accelerate in the automatic model, but that tends to happen only till the car gets into second.
Another technology that debuts on the new Ciaz petrol is the smart-hybrid system. This more like a kill switch for the engine when it comes to a halt. This is a great feature when you are in heavy traffic and traffic signals, as it helps save fuel.
It has adequate power for long highway drives and the best part is the addition of cruise control! Not many competitors offer this feature in their lower variants, but the Ciaz does. The NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels too are manageable even at higher revs.
Fuel economy claimed by Maruti is 21.56 kmpl. But that’s under standard test conditions. The smart hybrid may help get close to those figures in daily driving. It handles well in heavy traffic conditions and also on the highways.
The meaty A-pillar does tend to be a distraction when you are trying to take turns. It also offers adjustable seat height as an option.
In terms of safety, the 2018 Maruti Ciaz offers standard safety features like dual airbags, ABS, seat belt warning and reverse parking sensors. The speed alert system though is a bit of a bother as it produces an incessant beeping sound over 120 kmph and once over 80 kmph. The top-spec model features six airbags, electronic stability control and hill-hold assist. Just FYI, the Toyota Yaris comes with 7 airbags as standard across the range.
At a starting price of Rs 8.19 lakh and the top model going up to Rs 10.97 lakh, I feel the need Ciaz is a value-for-money bargain. The Ciaz facelift adds elegance that it was missing before with that extra power that the older version was devoid of. There is a lot of freshness that this car brings to the Indian market and aspiring buyers looking to invest in a mid-range sedan will consider.
With the kind of features that Maruti is offering with this car, I won’t be surprised if the Ciaz poses stiff competition against the likes of the tormenting trio of the Hyundai Verna, the Toyota Yaris and the biggest competitor of all, the Honda City.