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Suzy's Swift turns on the LUV

2014-06-10 07:31

LITTLE TOUGH GUY: Suzuki's new Indian-assembled 1.4 Ertiga seven-seater was well up to the rigours of the Eastern Cape's roads and tracks and brings a welcome variant to the Japanese brand's range. Image: Wheels24 / Les Stephenson


Suzuki SA is now importing smaller-engined Swifts - though even with a 1.2 instead of 1.4-litre engine they still fly pretty well! With the new 63kW engine comes, for the first time, a Swift with a different tail - a boot instead of a hatch. This new sedan is badges Dzire and is assembled in India.


  • Award-winning global MPV for SA
  • Three seating rows provide for seven
  • Rear two rows fold for cargo
  • 1.4-litre engine, front-wheel drive
  • Good ride on bad roads – we tried it!

EAST LONDON, Eastern Cape - Back in January 2014 Suzuki gave its Swift the boot... though in a nice way. Its worker elves over there in India tacked on a large and lidded rear compartment, accessible from outside the vehicle; to wit, a boot.

The otherwise Japanese automaker told us the car did indeed come from India and badged it Dzire, as in "A Streetcar Named...". We quite liked it. Now there's been another change and another rather strange name - just launched in South Africa is the Suzuki Ertiga (no, don't ask, I'll try to explain later).

2014 Suzuki Ertiga image gallery

It's essentially a hatchback Swift, stretched and widened a little to accommodate a third row of two seats: 2+3+2=7 seats. It comes in three specification levels (GA, DL and GLX) with the same 1.4 engine as the rest of the range (70kW at 6000rpm and 130Nm at 4000rpm) and a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed auto gearbox.


Suzuki told the media launch conference, held at the East London Golf Course, that the car was intended to compete in the 1.3 – 1.5 small MPV market, one which, Suzuki says, has shown the most growth in South Africa in recent times.

The company doesn't, however, like the term MPV, but rather LUV - for Life Utility Vehicle. It's seen as a people-carrier for the larger family – or having commercial potential as a small taxi or even an airport shuttle-bus, perhaps for small holiday accommodation businesses.

The launch event presentation on Monday (June 9 2014) over, we took a fleet of a dozen or more GLX models out on to the sometimes challenging (read potholed, but way better than expected) roads around East London and along the N2 to Morgan Bay for a spot of lunch and some whale-watching from the nearby cliffs.


There were only two of us in our sand-coloured car, with briefcase luggage, but even so the car's performance surprised both of us; the ride was firm but very quiet, the gearbox (ratios amended from the standard Swift to handle the seven-passenger capacity) soared us up the (dare I say Ciskei?) hills and the suspension sniffed at the odd pothole missed in the eternal game of highway "Space Invaders" and some rugged trail driving.

The Ertiga is assembled in India and Indonesia and was first sold back in 2012 in only those two countries. South Africa has now become one of a selected few more to receive the cars.

Both eastern countries have gone for the car big-time; both have heaped awards on it – not surprising, perhaps with 120 000 sold in India and 100 000 in Indonesia. Suzuki is hoping for sales of 150 a month against what it sees as its main competitor – Toyota’s Avanza.

Apart from the Suzuki reputation, the newcomer will wield price as a hefty marketing weapon against the Toyota which was re-launched back in 2012 as a more upmarket model. Here’s how they stack up pricewise:

2014 Ertiga
Suzuki Ertiga GA – R159 900
Suzuki Ertiga GL – R179 900
Suzuki Ertiga GL a/t – R194 900
Suzuki Ergita GLX – R192 900
Suzuki Ertiga GLX a/t – R207 900

2012 Toyota Avanza in 2012
Avanza 1.3 S – R155 900
Avanza 1.3 SX – R168 800
Avanza 1.5 SX – R175 500
Avanza 1.5 SX AT – R189 600
Avanza 1.5 TX – R202 200

2014 Toyota Avanza
Avanza 1.3 SX - R188 200
Avanza 1.5 SX R195 500
Avanza 1.5 SX a/t - R211 000
Avanza 1.5 TX - R224 700
(For more information to compare the Avanza go to Toyota SA)

Back to the Ertiga... Suzuki says it has extended its car offering for South Africa "with the spacious, versatile and attractive Ertiga, a compact life utility vehicle (LUV) that links the response and manoeuvrability of a compact car to the space, versatility and practicality of an MPV".

It can accommodate up to seven humans while its front-engined, front-wheel drive layout allows what Suzuki describes as “a surprisingly generous interior, despite the vehicle’s compact footprint and wieldly character”.


Suzuki adds that the Ertiga brings "class-leading standards of interior accommodation and cargo space" - should you care to fold the third, and then the second, seat rows of seats - to the small MPV segment while "maintaining the high standards of engineering, design and quality for which the Suzuki brand has become renowned".

The Ertiga is powered by Suzuki’s latest-generation, fuel-efficient K14B four-cylinder engine. The fuel-injected 1.4, Suzuki says, "already enjoys a strong reputation for performance and fuel efficiency, ensuring that the Ertiga can also count lively responses and class-leading fuel consumption among its many talents".

“The arrival of the Ertiga breaks new ground for Suzuki in South Africa,” says Francois van Eeden, Suzuki Auto SA’s national marketing manager. “The brand’s reputation for producing exceptional compact cars is already well established, and the Ertiga extends those virtues to the small MPV segment for the first time.”

Van Eeden says the newcomer “links space, versatility and practicality to the zip, thrift and style for which Suzuki’s established compacts, such as the Swift hatchback, have become renowned”.

“Sleek aerodynamics, space-efficient front-wheel drive and handsome, car-like proportions,” Van Eeden added, “equate to a ‘life’ utility vehicle that appeals on all levels, but with keen pricing.”


Efficient use of space was, the automaker says, a strong theme of the Ertiga design, with the need for a three-row seating configuration and ample space for seven occupants identified as a core requirement from the outset.

"Vitally, the third seating row is not just an emergency seat, but has been engineered to provide sufficient space for two adults through intelligent packaging, including careful positioning of the fuel tank, and the efficient configuration of the floor area and the seats."

OK... well, we loaded six adults, large males, into an Ertiga for the run to EL airport and it was a squeeze at the back. For two youngsters, no problem, but I suspect buyers will prefer to leave the seats folded into the floor to create a proper boot space - though even with the seats erect there is space for several supermarket bags of groceries and a supplementary 22-litre space below the floor, just inside the boot lip (GL and GLX).

The car is 4265mm long, 1695mm wide and 1685mm high. The cabin dimensions, Suzuki says,  "are impressive", with an interior length of 2665mm, an interior width of 1415mm and an interior height of 1310 mm.

The three seat rows can go from seven up to five down - which creates a cavern of a cargo volume. With all three seating rows erect the boot volume is 135 litres, growing to 482 litres when the third row folding into the floor. Drop the second row and the volume grows to 736 litres with dimensions of (want to move a fridge or something?) 1180 x 1840 x 860mm. The cargo hatch measures 860mm high and 1180 mm wide.

The second row can also split 60:40 and slide fore/aft through 240mm - for legroom and to allow access to the third row.

The Ertiga also has cupholders and storage bins, among them "glove" compartment, facia rack (think cellphone storage), door pockets, seat-back pockets and bottle holders. The exact combination of storage options varies between the three models.


The five-model Suzuki Ertiga range kicks off with the Ertiga GA, manual transmission only and focused on utility and price. It runs on 15" steel rims with centre caps, front and rear mud flaps are standard, exterior mirrors are manually adjustable.

Standard are tilt-adjustable steering column, power steering, digital trip computer with odometer, trip distance meter, digital clock, instantaneous fuel consumption display and fuel-range indicator. Air-conditioning is standard across the range.

There are cup holders in the dashboard and the centre console, as well as bottle holders in the front and rear door side pockets, as well as in the three-quarter panels adjacent to the third seating row. The front and rear doors also feature storage pockets, and a lidded glove compartment is also included.

One step up is the Ertiga GL which add full wheel covers for the 15" steel rims, colour-coded door handles and exterior mirrors, the latter with integrated turn indicators, and colour-coded mud flaps.

The cabin has smarter upholstery, silver accents for the door trim and gear-shifter and chromed interior door releases. The more comprehensive instrument binnacle has dual analogue dials for speed and revs, the same digital trip computer and an FM/AM CD tuner compatible with MP3 and WMA music files.

The four-speaker system incorporates a USB port, allowing compatible music files to be played from memory sticks and devices such as iPhones and iPods.

The GL also gets a rear demister and wiper/wash system, four power windows, remote-operated central locking and front and rear aircon. All seats have head restraints, the immobiliser is backed by an alarm.

The Ertiga GLX adds spoked 15" alloy rims and front fog lights, the steering wheel has audio controls, the digital trip computer gives external air temperature and two tweeters are added to the sound system.

The driver's seat gets height adjustment.

• Oh yes, the name... We're told to model at first had a build designation R; and 'tiga' is Indonesian for three (the seat rows). Hence, ER-TIGA. But'were open to correction...

Read more on:    suzuki  |  eastern cape  |  east london

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