DRIVING IMPRESSION: Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GLX

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 24, 2016

Being someone who has to be up to date with the latest models and technological innovations in the world of motoring, I was left somewhat red faced just over a year when noticing a covered figure parked in the window of the Suzuki dealership here in PE.

A quick chat with the salesman and (slight) lifting of the tarpaulin identified the mystery figure as the all-new Ciaz, a compact entry-level sedan that lit no light-bulbs in my head as to ever being mentioned for local release, or indeed that it ever existed.

This surprise news resulted in a few minutes of consulting the net to try and determine the nuts-and-bolts of this rather stylish looking offering that was only described by the man as going to be a vehicle that blends value for money, with high levels of spec.

Like the Celerio, Swift DZire and Ertiga, the Ciaz is manufactured by Suzuki’s Maruti division in India, and serves as a replacement for the SX4 sedan that was never offered for sale on our shores.

In comparison, the Ciaz acts as the waypoint between the Swift DZire and bigger Kazashi in Suzuki’s local sedan line-up, with the emphasis being placed on… you guessed it, value for money and premium levels of standard kit.

Competing in a segment where looks often play second fiddle to conservative lines and bland detailing, the Ciaz arguably does not rate as the type of vehicle you could park and then lose in a crowed parking lot.

Despite the somewhat dour grey paint finish of our range topping GLX tester, the combination of a tapering clamshell bonnet, chrome grille and door handles, oversized headlamp clusters and wire-like 16-inch alloy wheels, gives the Ciaz a more elegant rather than striking look.

The same can be said of the rising rear end which, while not the prettiest, does not border on the generic side party due to the integrated boot spoiler, chrome strip and angular looking taillights.

Open the front door, the Ciaz’s interior is less showy with the look and layout mirroring that of the Swift, despite the additions of chrome finishes around the audio system, ventilation switches, gear lever and on the steering wheel.

While hard plastics dominate the cabin throughout, the Ciaz’s biggest trump card comes when you look at the amount of space. Based on the same platform as its predecessor and measuring a smidge under 4.9-metres in length, head and legroom in the front are impressive with the leather seats also feeling comfortable and supportive.

It is in the back though were more than a few eyebrows are guaranteed to be raised. With the driver’s seat popped into my preferred position, sitting behind myself was a laugh as the amount of space left, was more than substantial.

What’s more, rear headroom comes at a premium with the airy feel further boosted by the addition of separate ventilation controls, and a centre armrest with integrated cupholders. Despite the seat being fixed, boot space is still capacious with Suzuki claiming a total capacity of 495-litres.

Staying true to its principle, creature comfort in the Ciaz are high with items including keyless entry / start, electrically retractable mirrors, Bluetooth audio steaming with USB with Aux input; the latter two hidden in a nifty storage compartment underneath with HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) controls, electric windows all around, rear roller blind, height-adjustable driver’s chair, title-adjustable steering wheel, dual 12 volt power sockets, dual airbags and ABS with EBD.

Providing the necessary go is the same 1.4-litre K14B petrol engine used in the Ertiga, which churns out 70 kW and 130 N.m of torque. Although these outputs appear low on paper, the Ciaz’s low kerb weight of 1 030 kg translates to a sprightly if not spirited performance.

Mated to a secure and weighty feeling five-speed manual gearbox, DN 99 HP GP acquitted itself rather well during the weeklong stay, with the fuel consumption gauge eventually settling on 5.9 L/100 km, someway off Suzuki’s claimed 5.4 L/100 km, but still very good considering it spend most of its time running errands and doing the daily commute.

As it what primarily designed to take on the rough roads of its homeland, the Ciaz’s ride proved comfortable with the combination of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam setup at the rear, allowing for a soft feel, but without turning bumpy when the tar made way for holes and bad resurfaced areas.

Although it might still rate as somewhat of an underdog in this segment, there is a lot to like about the Suzuki Ciaz. With lots of space, kit and decent looks to boot, it makes for the perfect choice irrespective of the badge on the grille.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 16v Inline 4
DISPLACEMENT 1,372 cc
MAX POWER 70 kW @6000 rpm
MAX TORQUE 130 N.m @4000 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; Front-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual
ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H] n/a
TOP SPEED n/a
FUEL CONSUMPTION 5.9 L/100 km*
EMISSIONS 125 g/km
PRICE R203 900

*As claimed during test period