Maruti Suzuki launched its new mid size sedan Ciaz on 6th October 2014 and it competes chiefly with Honda City, Hyundai Verna and VW Vento. Other rivals include Skoda Rapid, Ford Fiesta and Fiat Linea. Based on Suzuki Authentic Concept that was displayed at Shanghai Motor Show in 2013, Ciaz replaces the SX4. The bookings had started about a month before the actual launch and Maruti did receive a good response with waiting period going up to 2 months.
This front wheel drive C+ segment sedan comes with two engine options. For petrol it’s the 1.4 litre K Series motor that is tuned for 91 bhp at 6000 rpm and 13.2 kgm of torque at 4000 rpm. The 1.3 litre Fiat sourced DDiS engine with variable geometry turbo for diesel Ciaz churns 89 bhp at 4000 rpm and has 20.4 kgm torque at 1750 rpm. There are four variants available for both models and these are classified as VXi, VXi+, ZXi, ZXi+ and VDi, VDi+, ZDi, ZDi+. Both the engines are mated to 5 speed manual transmission and for two petrol trims, (VXi+ and ZXi) a 4 speed automatic gearbox is also available.
At 4490 mm of length and 1730 mm width, Ciaz is longer and wider than its closest rival Honda City. Its wheelbase measures 2650 mm which is 50 mm more than City’s and longest in segment. The car’s characteristic sedan silhouette looks more pleasing than its predecessor SX4’s body template. Furthermore, its clean styling will please many and offend none. With their projector features the upswept headlamps appear neat and the four-louver chrome grille bears the Suzuki emblem giving Ciaz its family look. The projector headlamps are standard for all trims. Housed on the front bumper, the stretched air dam has a subtle U shape. The nose is sleek and round with no frills.
In its profile view Ciaz again looks pretty clean and is a refreshing change from the overdone fluidic sculpture in its class. It has a strong and bold shoulder line. Body coloured, electrically adjustable (and also foldable for top end trims) outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) have side turn indictors for all variants. The top end version gets 16 inch alloy wheels with 195/55 R16 tyres though the wheel wells are rather big for them. Ciaz has its door handles in chrome for top end trims.
At the rear, the large wrap-around tail lamps draw attention and amusingly they are quite similar to those on Honda City. The trunk has a distinct lip and there is thick chrome garnish for the number plate. There are reflectors housed on the bumper and the upper end trims also come with reverse parking sensors and camera. There are no rear fog lamps on any trim.
In terms of design and build, Ciaz does feel quite upmarket. Despite having generous dimensions, it weighs only 1010 kg for petrol and 1105 kg for the diesel model. There is a choice between 7 body colours that include Pearl Snow White, Metallic Clear Beige, Pearl Midnight Black, Pearl Sangria Red, Metallic Silky Silver, Pearl Metallic Dignity Brown and Metallic Glistening Grey.
The front doors of this sedan open in a three-stage action and ingress+egress do not require much effort. There is plenty of room in the cabin and refinement of materials is admirable even though some parts have been borrowed from lesser priced Maruti cars. The dashboard has a simple design and black – beige combination with silver highlights looks attractive. Power steering wheel can be adjusted for tilt and carries the audio and Bluetooth controls. There is leather upholstery for seats in the top end variant and driver’ seat can be adjusted for height.
The SmartPlay Infotainment system comes with CD/MP3 player, USB, AUX, SD card and Bluetooth connectivity. It has a 7 inch high resolution touchscreen that can replicate your smartphone’s screen once it is uploaded through an app. Sound output is via four speakers – one on each door – and two tweeters positioned near the A pillar. This touchscreen also displays the images for reversing camera and has a navigation system. You can run your finger on the screen and scroll through frequencies on the tuner. Voice commands are accepted by this hi-tech infotainment system and Maruti claims that it is customised to accept Indian accents. The display and knobs for climate control are below the infotainment set-up and the AC does a good job of cooling the cabin. Rear AC vents are provided on all variants.
With their white backlight the dials on instrument cluster are easy to read and the MID provides information on real-time and average fuel economy, distance to empty, outside temperature, and has a clock.
For safety, driver and co-driver airbags are standard for top end variants. Only driver airbag is offered on V+ trims. ABS again features on top end variants.
Thanks to that long wheelbase, there is ample legroom at the rear too. The bench seat is broad enough for three adults and has comfortable backrest recline angle. Cushioning is on the firmer side. A centre armrest is provided and it has two cup holders. The rear parcel shelf has a slope and there is no feature to prevent things from falling on to the seat. A manual sun shade is offered for the rear windscreen. Although the rear seats do not fold down and wheel wells eat some space, Ciaz has 510 litres of boot volume which is segment leading and same as Honda City’s.
The ARAI fuel economy of petrol powered Ciaz is 20.73 km/litre for MT and 19.12 km/litre for the AT model. The diesel car is rated at 26.21 km/litre and this is not just segment topping but also the best for any car sold in India.
Maruti’s trusted wide dealer network, excellent after sales & service support and hassle free ownership experience are some strengths that put Ciaz in a competitive position against other players in mid size saloon segment. The prices range between Rs 6.99 lakhs and 9.80 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi). Maruti Suzuki Ciaz does feel better than SX4 and with all that gadgetry it should go down well with the luxury conscious too.