As you read this, you’re probably thinking, “It’s a people carrier; they’re all the same.” Well, give us a few minutes of your time and we’ll explain. The seven-seater MPV category has gotten pretty popular these days. With a price point not too far off from popular subcompact sedans, it just makes more sense especially for families or first car buyers.
With the same underpinnings as the last generation Suzuki Swift, this current generation Ertiga was updated last year with some tasteful chrome and sharper looks. The front end looks shinier with the big chrome grille that meets the headlights and there’s also chrome accents on the fog lights that rounds things off nicely.
Its backside gets some chrome treatment too: the tailgate gets a prominent garnish. Side mirrors have mounted LED turn indicators and the whole car rolls on 15-inch wheels.
The interior has an upscale feel to it with textured light brown fabric upholstery. There’s brushed aluminum trim on the speedometer and tachometer bezels, steering wheel, dashboard and front passenger doors.
Small outside, big inside
Resembling a stretched Swift, the Ertiga can squeeze through traffic and when you get to your destination, you’ll find it’s easy to park in spaces bigger seven-seaters would balk at.
With the second row adjusted to ensure comfort for both second and third row passengers, you won’t have to worry about one row of unhappy friends.
Headroom is abundant even in the 50:50 split functional third row seat, which can accommodate two average-sized Pinoy adults.
Getting in and out of the third row is easy. The second row tilts and slides forward making ingress and egress a breeze.
Even with seven passengers, city driving is easy with the 1.4L VVT DOHC 16V gas engine. It puts out 95-Hp at 6,000rpm with 130-Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Switching off overdrive (on the transmission stick) lets the engine stay in the higher rpms longer before shifting up, helping the engine keep the power on when driving with your friends or family in tow. This works best when overtaking on expressways too.
The Ertiga GLX has electric power steering, a keyless push button ignition system, reverse sensor, power windows and door locks. Safety features include driver and passenger airbags, Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), childproof rear locks, engine immobilizer, side impact beams and a back up sensor you can turn on and off. There’s also the Android touchscreen entertainment system with Bluetooth, Wifi, and USB connectivity. To avoid fiddling with the stereo, there are steering wheel mounted controls for audio and your paired smartphone.
As far as functionality, features and driveability, the Ertiga is on an even field with its competitors. Price is where it edges out its peers. With its competitors’ top-of-the-line variants passing the P1 million mark, the Ertiga has the lowest entry level price at P699K. This top-of-the-line variant is priced at P965K.
Even with the price increase due to the excise tax brought on by the TRAIN law enacted by this administration, the Ertiga makes sense if you’re in the market for an affordable, full featured seven-seater MPV.
Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan