What makes a great small seven-seater MPV? Is it how the way it looks? How spacious it is? Or is it the amount of standard amenities and features? How about the fact that it comes available with third-row seating in a relatively compact package?
As more and more seven-seaters continue to populate the market, Suzuki thought now was the right time to introduce the all-new Ertiga MPV. First revealed way back in mid-2014, the newcomer was received warmly thanks to its Swift-like looks, nimble handling, affordable price tag and thrifty performance.
Four and a half years later, the all-new 2019 Ertiga has leveled up not only in size, but in style, features, as well as in cabin space. With the segment heating up, the new Ertiga has its work cut out for it and boy does it have plenty to offer. From a more upmarket exterior and interior, to a slightly more powerful engine as well as plenty of in-car amenities; the 2019 Ertiga is coming out swinging and is ready to do battle. But before we delve deeper into Suzuki's latest seven-seater, let's have a look at the MPV's exterior.
One look at the new Ertiga and immediately you are drawn to its style. Gone is the Swift-derived design as Suzuki opted to give the 2019 Ertiga its own sleek exterior. Bolder and a bit more daring (if I do say so myself), the new MPV looks sharp and has bags more character than its predecessor. Dominating the front fascia are new projector headlights that are then complemented by a new front grill. Then there's the sporty front bumper which now come with reshaped foglight bezels, further adding to the Ertiga's already dashing looks.
But it is perhaps the Ertiga's rear that has received the most drastic of changes. Gone are the conservative taillights as they have been replaced with aggressive-looking L-shaped units. While I'm not particularly a fan of the redesign, they have somewhat grown on me as I do find them alluring to look at, especially at night. Rounding up the changes on the new Ertiga is a new set of 15-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.
In terms of size, the 2019 Ertiga is now bigger and wider than before. It now measures 4395mm long, 1735mm wide and 1690mm tall. This makes the new MPV 130mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than before. This translates to bigger cabin and luggage space inside the Ertiga which I'll get to later. Wheelbase remains the same at 2740mm but thanks to the MPV's growth spurt, Suzuki says the Ertiga now offers 70mm more legroom for the third-row seats and 90mm more cargo space even with the third row seats deployed.
Pop the doors open and the Ertiga greets you with a classy interior. Even though the Ertiga is priced at less than a million Pesos, Suzuki did not skimp on making the new MPV look and feel a bit more upscale on the inside . A bevy of faux wood trim surround the dashboard and door panels, and is complemented by a plethora of beige-colored trim which has since become a trademark look of the Ertiga. There is no leather upholstery but the fabric seats are covered in the same beige trim as the rest of the cabin. There's even a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel which gives the MPV a more sophisticated look & feel.
Besides giving the interior a much-needed makeover, Suzuki was also busy giving the Ertiga more luggage and cabin space. With its longer dimensions, space at the third-row has been improved. In fact, I was able to test it out personally and I'm happy to report that my legs are no longer touching the rear of the second-row backrests. There is now more cargo space available as well thanks to the Ertiga's bigger size. Not only that, the very back of the MPV (behind the third row) has a removable panel to provide extra storage, or provide more clearance for carrying taller items like potted plants.
The result is 153 liters worth of loading space with the third row seats deployed (199 liters when including the bottom storage), an improvement nonetheless compared to the old model's paltry 113 liter cargo space. Fold the third-row seats down and you have a humongous 550 liters of cargo space. Should you want to treat the Ertiga as a mini cargo van, the second-row seats can also be folded flat, resulting in an impressive 803 liters worth of space.
Sitting proudly at the center of the dashboard is a floating 10-inch touchscreen display; perhaps the biggest in the segment. Just like the new Swift and Dzire, it gets the same graphics and menus along with the following functions like: AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, Aux, USB, smartphone Mirrorlink, video playback and even offline navigation (dealer option). All well and good, but I wished the system had a faster processing speed.
Despite the many standard amenities, there were some features lacking inside the Ertiga. For example there is no center glovebox to be found, meaning you have to use the passenger side glovebox or make use of the small cubbyhole just behind the front cupholders. There is also no climate control on the top-the-line model but perhaps I am being a bit nitpicky since the Ertiga still a budget MPV after all. Also, I would have liked it more if the steering wheel can also be adjusted telescopically, not just for tilt.
Powering the 2019 Ertiga is not a 1.4-liter engine. Instead, it now comes with a (slightly bigger) 1.5-liter inline-four dubbed the 'K15B'. It's basically an upgraded version of the older K14B engine from before but now produces a little bit more horsepower and torque; 103 PS at 6000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. Sure an additional 11 PS and 8 Nm of torque may not sound like much, but on a relatively small MPV such as this, every little bit helps. And since this is the top-of-the-line model, power is sent to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic.
With the smart key tucked away in my pocket, all that I needed to do to start the engine was to press a button. Off the line, there is not much difference between the older 1.4-liter and the newer 1.5-liter engine. Yes there is a bit more torque since the engine is now bigger but overall, it keeps the same smoothness as the old K14B while driving around town.
It was at the highway where I noticed the difference in the new engine. The 1.5-liter mill delivered more pep and vigor than the old engine. Put your foot down on the accelerator and the the transmission immediately kicks down to picks up the revs. Overtaking slower cars on the highway was easier as well, but great care along with proper timing, still have to be considered when trying to get pass trailer trucks on the highway however.
Also impressive on the Ertiga is its fuel efficiency. Despite having a four-speed automatic, the MPV returned about 9.0 – 10.0 km/l in light city driving. Out on the highway, expect the Ertiga to have an average fuel consumption of 17.0 – 18.0 km/l. When you're carrying additional people or cargo, expect those figures to drop to around 7.5 – 8.0 km/l and 15.0 – 16.0 km/l accordingly.
As far as handling is concerned, the new Ertiga is a bit more agile. Compared to the previous generation (which handled quite well), the new MPV is slightly quicker around turns. It's not exactly what you'd call a canyon carver, but the MPV does make short work of tight corners. Thanks to the new Heartect platform (which is also seeing use in the Swift and Dzire), the new Ertiga is nimbler than ever not to mention lighter and more rigid.
However, do take note that the Ertiga is still quite tall. Take a corner too quickly and the body will lean considerably. Steering, on the other hand, is also good although I do wish the electronic-power assist system (EPAS) delivered more road feel as there was a certain lack of feedback. On the flipside, the EPAS is adaptable which means its light to steer when you're parking or driving along town, and only stiffens up when you're driving on the highway.
But if there was one thing that Suzuki could improve on the Ertiga's performance, it would be its brakes. The brakes themselves do a good job of slowing the car down but the pedal feels mushy at times. Driving on the highway, I actually had to adjust my braking distance a bit farther than normal due to the brake pedal's spongy nature. This can also be quite a concern when one is driving down a steep hill. Hopefully Suzuki can address this problem in a future update.
With a sticker price of Php 978,000, the 2019 Ertiga is still one of the most budget-friendly MPVs in top-of-the-line trim. Compared to the Avanza Veloz, Mobilio RS and Xpander GLS Sport which are already priced above Php 1 million, the Ertiga undercuts all three while still being chock-full of features.
Not only that, the GLX trim also comes with a wide array of safety features: anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), dual front airbags, ISOFIX rear anchors for child seats, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, security alarm with engine immobilizer, and seatbelts for all rows of seats. Perhaps the only thing the MPV needs to have on its long list of safety kit is stability control, which sadly is not available across the range.
If the Ertiga in GLX form is still a bit expensive for buyers, there is the more affordable GL A/T which retails for Php 888,000. It does lose some features here and there like the reverse camera, push-button start, ten-inch touchscreen infotainment (it gets a smaller 8-inch touchscreen display), and chrome door handles, but these features are something that you can live without.
If you're not interested in getting big seven-seater SUVs and preferred something smaller, we highly recommend checking out the 2019 Ertiga as your first (or second) family car. It may have gone a stylish makeover inside and out, but all of the familiar traits and attributes that made the MPV a top-seller before is still there, and then some.