It was nearly five years ago when Suzuki first launched the Ertiga here in the country.

We knew that the seven-seater will become one of Suzuki Philippines's best-selling models in the country. Looking a lot like a taller Swift, the older Ertiga ultimately supplanted the aging APV as their premiere compact seven-seater.

Four and a half years later, and now we are driving the all-new, second-generation Ertiga. And boy, do we like the changes they made.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Frugal, compact, and packed with features one would ever need in a family car, the 2019 Ertiga comes with all of the familiar features of the first-generation model, but has been made sleeker, comfier and a bit more powerful. But what exactly are the things that make the 2019 Ertiga better?

To get to know more about the all-new MPV, we joined a two-day ride and drive of the Ertiga to Tagaytay. With a good variety of roads ahead of us, we thought it best to talk about six of the most interesting things that we liked in the 2019 Ertiga.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

1. The Ertiga has leveled up in style

No matter which direction you look at the all-new Ertiga, the redesigned MPV looks better than before. No longer does it share its looks with the Swift hatchback; as it now comes with its own unique design. Call it elegant or upscale, the new Ertiga is leaps and bounds cooler than the previous generation.

Let's start with the most obvious change first; that front fascia. Gone are the sweptback headlights borrowed from the Swift and in its place are sleek projector units. The three-slat grill has been replaced as well by a bolder, more charming front grill reminiscent of high-end luxury sedans. Let's not also forget that the 2019 Ertiga now comes with a heavily restyled front bumper and hood which further add to the MPV's more striking looks.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Another neat feature that I really liked on the Ertiga are the new 15-inch alloy wheels. Available from the GL all the way to GLX, the new wheels actually complement the new swanky look of the MPV. The base model GA only gets steel wheels with a center cap but what did you expect from a bare-bones variant?

However, there is one thing that I'm still trying to get used to on the new Ertiga; those L-shaped taillights. Captivating they may be for some, I feel like Suzuki may have overdone redesigning the taillights for the second-generation MPV. Perhaps over time, I will learn to appreciate them as they are.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

2. The Ertiga is much bigger and more spacious than before

While it may not be too obvious for some, the new Ertiga is actually larger than before. Measuring 4395mm long, 1735mm wide and 1690mm tall, the MPV is now longer by 130mm, wider by 40mm, and stands 5mm taller. Despite having the same 2740mm wheelbase as before, the increase in exterior dimensions translated to a more spacious interior. So much so that Suzuki claimed that the Ertiga now has 70mm more legroom at the third row, and 90mm of additional luggage space even while the third-row seats are deployed.

Should you need more legroom at the back, the second-row seats can be slid forward to give third-row passengers a bit more space. While I had no trouble fitting my 5’7 frame at the very back in the first Ertiga, I am happy to report that it is indeed more spacious in the 2019 model as my knees no longer touched the rear of the backrests.

As for luggage space, it’s now capable of holding 199 liters worth of cargo with the third row seats up (previous only had 113 liters worth of volume). How so? Well besides making the body longer, it now has additional storage beneath the floor which can hold small items. Should you have tall suitcases that need to stand upright, you can remove the collapsible floor in order to stow them properly. Fold all of the seats down and you have yourself a mini cargo hauler that can carry long loads with ease.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

3. The Ertiga has a classy interior

If you thought the exterior was nice, wait until you see the inside. Despite being less than a million Pesos, Suzuki paid special attention to making the interior classy and good-looking.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Immediately grabbing my attention was the abundance of wood trim; it's faux, but does complement the new flowing dashboard design and the flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in leather. Then there's the heaps of beige that drape over the interior of the MPV, giving it a warm and more upmarket finish and appearance.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

4. The Ertiga is very family friendly

What we really liked with the Ertiga is how feature packed it is for its price.

We liked the huge 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Available only on the GLX, it sits proudly on the center dashboard and comes with plenty of features like navigation, smartphone Mirrorlink, Bluetooth, USB, Aux, and AM/FM radio. It even doubles as a display for the reverse camera for when you're backing up the MPV. Lesser models like the GL come with a smaller 8-inch display. However, it still comes with the same level of kit, save for the reverse camera as that is only available for the GLX.

Also worth mentioning on the Ertiga are the new cupholders which now come with cooling vents which keeps your cold drinks from getting warm while on the road.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

5. The Ertiga has a better engine

Pop the hood and out comes a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine dubbed the 'K15B'. Essentially a bored-out, upgraded version of the K14B found on the previous generation, it puts out slightly more horsepower and torque; 103 PS (+11) and 138 (+8) Nm of torque. Power is then sent to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission.

As it is slightly more powerful, the new engine is quite zippy especially on the highway but more on that later. Yes, there is a bit more noticeable torque at city speeds but it won’t exactly be setting the world ablaze. It’s smooth, quiet and does its job to the letter.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

At highway speeds, however, the 1.5 mill felt a bit livelier than the previous 1.4. There’s a bit more vigor from the engine, especially when overtaking other cars, not to mention a bit more rev-happy when you bury your foot on the accelerator. But with only 103 PS and less than 140 Nm of torque, you do have to time your overtakes correctly.

Then there's the four-speed automatic transmission. Sure it's not the most high-tech transmission out there, but it has proven itself well for being a reliable and efficient gearbox. That's right, despite having only four gears, this automatic is actually one of the most efficient in the segment. With two people in tow, along with plenty of luggage, it was able to return about 16.0 km/l on the highway. Around the city, however, the MPV was able to sip fuel at 9.0 – 10.0 km/l, not bad for a four-speed.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

But even with a slightly bigger engine and a proven transmission, the new Ertiga will still struggle a bit when climbing up steep hills, particularly when fully laden with people and cargo. While climbing up some hilly roads in Tagaytay Highlands, I found myself setting the transmission to '2' most of the time in order to keep the engine at the optimal powerband. Perhaps a turbo-diesel option may help give the Ertiga a bit more pull when faced with steep roads.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

6. The Ertiga has a better, more planted drive

So it has a nice smooth engine, a more elegant exterior, and a more stylish interior. But what about its ride quality? Again, just like the first-generation model, the new Ertiga rode soft and absorbed most of the rough stuff with ease. It now also comes with Suzuki's new Heartect platform which is also seeing use in the all-new Swift and Dzire.

Unlike the old platform, Suzuki claims that the new one is lighter, more rigid; resulting in an improved ride and better handling. Also, it's not as wallowy as the first-generation Ertiga which meant less body roll through the corners.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Room for improvement

As much as we liked the all-new Ertiga, there is still some room for improvement on the compact MPV.

Take for examples its brakes. While they did a great job of slowing the MPV down to a complete halt, I wished the brake pedal wasn't as spongy and had better modulation. This can be quite unnerving especially if one is driving at highway speeds, or climbing down steep hills. Hopefully, Suzuki can make some adjustments to the brake pedal in the future.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Also, I wish they introduced a telescopic steering rack for the Ertiga, not just tilt-adjust. While I did not have any problems myself, drivers with shorter arms may have some difficulty getting into a comfortable driving position. The driver’s seat is height adjustable but it’s only available on the range-topping GLX; meaning both the GA and GL variants only come with a fixed seat height which can be a deal breaker for drivers of short stature.

In addition, Suzuki claimed they improved the Ertiga’s Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) deadening for the 2019 Ertiga. While I can say they have indeed reduced engine noise intruding into the cabin, Suzuki could have done a bit more in the way of lessening outside noise penetrating into the MPV.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

Overall

Despite our short time with the new MPV, we were thoroughly impressed by its more stylish looks, improved cabin and luggage space, as well as its upgraded suite of features and amenities.

Make no mistake there are still some improvements that Suzuki can make, but all in all, the 2019 Ertiga will shake things up in the compact MPV segment. The Toyota Avanza, the Mitsubishi Xpander, as well as the Honda Mobilio better watch their backs as the Ertiga is out to get a piece of the seven-seater market.

Five interesting things we liked in the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga image

With a price range spanning from a budget-friendly Php 728,000 all the way to a fully-equipped Php 978,000, the new Ertiga has a lot going for it, and then some.