2019 Maruti Suzuki Ciaz 1.5 diesel road test review
The news of Maruti Suzuki developing its own, 1.5-litre diesel engine would have ruffled a few feathers all round. Unsurprisingly, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz has been the first car to get the engine, given that its competitors like the Hyundai Verna and Honda City have been equipped with a 1.6-litre and 1.5-litre diesel engine respectively for a long time now, unlike the Ciaz which had to make do with the smaller Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel motor. Finally, the Ciaz gets it's due then. But what's intriguing is that the engine was launched weeks before the big announcement from Maruti Suzuki that it will cease sales of diesel-engined cars once BS VI emission norms come into force from April 2020.
The Ciaz is the first car in Maruti Suzuki's product line-up to get the its all-new 1.5-litre diesel engine
That said, development of the 1.5-litre diesel engine branded the DDiS 225 and codenamed the E15A included huge costs and in fact the engine has been under development for some time. So it's only right to say that Maruti Suzuki has launched the engine as soon as it could. India is one of the biggest markets for Suzuki globally and diesel-engined cars make for a significant chunk of Maruti's sales in India, which is why the Japanese car maker decided to work on all-new diesel engine. It's also interesting to note that this is only the second in-house diesel engine developed by Suzuki, after the two-cylinder motor offered in the Maruti Celerio. On the same note, the demand for diesel-engined small cars has seen a sharp decline in the recent past, with manufacturers and buyers both shunning them in favour of petrol and petrol-hybrid powertrains.
The DDiS 225 engine displaces 1,498cc and offers 95PS and 225Nm - these outputs are lower than the Hyundai Verna 1.6 diesel and Honda City diesel both, but to its advantage the Ciaz is lighter than its competitors
Where does Maruti's new 1.5-litre engine stand in the current scenario then, especially given its decision to stop selling diesels? The future of the engine is thus unconfirmed at the moment, but the DDiS225 is being plonked into more Maruti cars. The Maruti Ertiga has just been launched with the new 1.5-litre diesel, mated to a six-speed transmission and the S-Cross is due to get the powertrain soon too. Of course, the demand for bigger cars powered by diesel engines, particularly SUVs, is not going to go down anytime soon and with that said we expect Maruti to continue offering the 1.5 diesel beyond April 2020, in some of its products. All said and done, how does the engine feel from behind the wheel? We put the Ciaz 1.5 through a full road test to find out.
First things first, the Ciaz 1.5 diesel is identical to every other iteration of the car on sale currently. There's no changes whatsoever so it looks the same, gets the same equipment levels and spacious cabin. We test-drove the top of the line ZDI+ variant loaded with niceties like the large touchscreen (integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a coloured multi-functional display in the instrument binnacle and more. We've always appreciated the rear legroom and kneeroom in the Ciaz and obviously, that's the case with the 1.5 too. So how does it drive?
The Ciaz 1.5 also marks the debut of Maruti's six-speed manual transmission something that was much needed. The engine displaces 1,498cc (to be able to avail tax benefits offered to diesel-engined cars with displacements under 1,500cc) and has the exact same bore as the Celerio's engine. It's almost like two Celerio engines were put together and the stroke was shortened to meet the displacement cap but of course, a lot has changed otherwise. Like the fact that the 1.5 diesel employs a dual-mass flywheel (DMF) as opposed to a single-mass flywheel (SMF). The DMF is essentially two flywheels connected together by springs to absorb the engine's inherent vibration and make for significantly improved NVH levels.
The new 1.5-litre diesel engine from Maruti Suzuki employs a dual-mass flywheel which uses two flywheels coupled by a set of springs, which reduce the engine's vibration by absorbing some of it
The refinement and smoothness is apparent as soon as you turn the engine on. The 1.5 sounds a lot quieter at idle in comparison to the 1.3, with significantly lesser clatter. Start driving and the quietness continues, as engine noise is a lot lesser. The Ciaz does not have the quietest cabin in its segment but the Ciaz 1.5 sounded a lot quieter on the go than I expected, which is quite impressive. It also tells us how much effort has gone into the engine's development, particularly in terms of refinement. In fact, the engine in the Ciaz 1.5 feels as refined as the Hyundai Verna's 1.6, which is pretty much the benchmark in the segment in terms of refinement. At 95PS and 225Nm, outputs for Maruti's 1.5-litre oil burner are not the best in class, in fact, they're lower than the Hyundai Verna's 1.6 (128PS and 260Nm) and Honda City (100PS and 200Nm).
The Ciaz is the lightest car in its segment though, which gives it an edge over its more powerful rivals. Turbo lag makes its presence felt below 2,000rpm but cross the mark and the engine offers a strong surge of torque. What I really liked is the fact that the surge continues unabated, well towards the top of the rev range. Performance from the 1.3 tapers off as you close in on the 4,000rpm mark but the 1.5 accelerates impressively almost all the way up to 5,000rpm, before running out of steam shortly after. All the while the engine feels smooth, feeling and sounding unstressed, which is pretty uncharacteristic for a diesel. The tall gear ratios are one reason behind the lacklustre performance at low revs and in fact, there were times when overtaking faster cars on the road called for downshifts.
The increment new Maruti Ciaz 1.5 may up by 5PS only, but the new engine boasts better power delivery across the entire rev range which coupled with the car's lighter weight allow it to accelerate significantly quicker than the Ciaz 1.3
That said, the Ciaz 1.5 sprinted to 100kmph from standstill in 11.84 seconds, which is very impressive and over a second quicker than the 1.3's time of 13.2 seconds in our previous tests. The 1.5-litre engine also puts its power down progressively, unlike the sudden surge in the 1.3 when the turbo spools up. The engine also revs more freely and is quicker to build revs than the 1.3. The Ciaz 1.5 should also boast a higher top speed thanks to the sixth cog in the transmission, resulting in higher cruising speeds, at lower engine revs. Of course, the ratios have been engineered to optimise fuel efficiency, and the Ciaz 1.5 boasts a claimed efficiency of 26.82kmpl, the highest in class. We tested the Ciaz 1.5 for fuel efficiency and it impressed on this crucial front too, returning 19.2kmpl in city and 23.7kmpl on the highway. These are numbers you would expect from smaller, lesser powerful hatchbacks!
The Ciaz 1.5 also marks the debut of Suzuki's six-speed transmission in India. Its taller ratios not only help the car stretch its legs better on the highway, but also help in boosting fuel efficiency
In a nutshell, the new 1.5-litre diesel engine from Suzuki impresses on various fronts, be it refinement and NVH levels or overall performance. On paper, the engine might offer only 5PS over the 1.3, but its power delivery that makes the 1.5 a lot more likeable, rather than the higher output. The brilliant fuel efficiency is an added bonus. Pricing for the Ciaz 1.5 begins at just under Rs 10 lakh, Rs 9.97 lakh ex-showroom to be precise, which only makes the deal sweeter.
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