It's been seven years since Maruti's last proper sedan, the SX4 was launched in India and they are all set to launch its successor the Ciaz, this festive season. Maruti just invited us to Jaipur for a preview of the new sedan. Here's what we learnt from the drive.
The Ciaz is quite an attractive car at first glance. The first thing that catches your attention is the face. There are pleasing lines and angles on the bonnet and around the large, four-slat chromed grille that do gel well with the projector headlamps. It's unmistakably a Maruti Suzuki face but more like the younger athletic brother of the rather rounded SX4. And on the side profile, there is a nicely sloped shoulder line that lends the sides a touch of class and flair. But then you come to the rear of the car and there seems to be something amiss. I can't tell if it's the fact that the tail lights look too much like a particular competitor's or just not Suzuki enough. Or maybe I'm getting used to the family look ideology of building cars. It doesn't quite look like a Suzuki and the busy design of the tail lamps is not helped by the large faux air vents in the rear bumper. Despite this small misgiving though, it still manages to be a pleasing car to look at from most angles.
The Ciaz is just shy of four and a half metres in length and it packs in a lot of space
Going back to that first glance - the other thing you immediately notice is that this is a large car. It's just shy of four and a half metres in length and it packs in a lot of space. This is certainly the car for the long-legged. In fact with the front seat at its furthest position with Suresh (6'2") in the front seat, I had fairly ample knee room. With Suresh's seat set to comfortable rather than ridiculously extended, the knee and leg room turns luxurious. There are little neat touches like the way the fold-out grab-handles smoothly fold back into place or how the front and rear reading lamps are themselves the switches.
The dash layout is simple and follows the Waterfall theme seen in the Swift
The instrument cluster is very similar to the Swift's unit and has a dash of chrome around the dials while the central console now features a new touchscreen unit called SmartPlay. This will be available in the top of the line Z+ trim levels. It's a simple intuitive system that's packed with voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity and all the audio inputs you need. The voice recognition also claims to be designed specifically for Indian accents. The top three trims get climate control as standard. In fact the projector headlamps and rear air con vents are standard across all models. This will also be one of the first Marutis to feature safety features like ABS and driver side airbag in all but the base spec trim. The ZXi trims get passenger side airbags too.
Suzuki's Total Effective Control Technology or S-TECT features a liberal use of high tensile steel across the body panels for a lighter, more durable body and a wide wheelbase
The Ciaz has been developed on an all new modular ultra lightweight platform that adopts Suzuki's Total Effective Control Technology or S-TECT. This features a liberal use of high tensile steel across the body panels for a lighter, more durable body and a wide wheelbase for stability. And it's light too, weighing in at just 1,010kg for the petrol and 1,105kg for the diesel.
The petrol engine is dubbed the K14 and is the latest iteration of the K-series of engines
The Ciaz will feature two familiar engines - the 1.4-litre K-Series petrol and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel. Both the diesel and the petrol have been worked on specifically for the Ciaz. The petrol engine is dubbed the K14 and is the latest iteration of the K-series of engines. Lighter internals and revised bore and stroke numbers allow it to make 92.45PS at 6,000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. While 1.4-litre may sound like a small engine for a mid-sized sedan, remember that this is a fairly light car. The petrol engine is smooth but a fair deal of engine noise creeps into the cabin. It needs to be revved and that's not a bad thing but the ratios are spaced quite far apart for efficiency and this kills the fun.
The tuning of the Multijet has been further tweaked to produce a fairly linear spread of torque and this makes it the more pleasant car to drive
The Diesel engine makes 90PS at 4,000rpm and 2,00Nm of torque at 1750rpm. The tuning of the Multijet has been further tweaked to produce a fairly linear spread of torque and this makes it the more pleasant car to drive. It's quick too and on one stretch of highway, the speedo nudged past 150kmph with a fair number of revs before redlining. Of the two mills, the diesel with its better spread of torque is easily the more pleasing engine to drive.
There is some body roll but it's controlled and grip levels are really good with the 195 section tyres
What the Ciaz does excel in is its ride quality and the chassis and suspension worked well to tune out some very rough stuff on our drive. Maruti engineers have spent time working on noise dampening and suspension tuning and this seems to have paid off. On our drive across mostly state and national highways, there was little scope to put to test its cornering abilities, so we can't really comment on the handling but it does feel like a solid, stable package. There is some body roll but it's controlled and grip levels are really good with the 195 section tyres. Even under hard braking to a stop from highway speeds for a U-turning tractor, the car behaved.
Maruti is claiming some impressive mileage figures of 26.21kmpl (ARAI) for the diesel and 20.73kmpl for the petrol. And on these numbers alone it should make a fair few waves. That said, the pricing will be key and considering that Maruti may plan to position the Ciaz above the City and the Verna as a C+ segment player, its pricing will be extremely critical.
With that impressive set of standard accoutrements and feature-rich top end models, if priced appropriately, the Ciaz then, could be another stunner from Maruti.