Maruti understands the Indian car market better than anybody else and with its unrivalled brand loyalty and vast sales network it only made sense for Maruti to launch products occupying some of the remaining segments. You see the Maruti Dzire has been a huge success and sells in vast numbers every month but when anyone would upgrade they would have to move to another brand. Maruti knew that and the SX4 was launched to counter that but ever since its launch it has faced stiff competition from its rivals.
Now enter the Ciaz and this time Maruti has carefully crafted the Ciaz to suit the buyers in this segment. Thus unlike the SX4 the Ciaz comes with a diesel engine also plus has an automatic option from the start. Then it looks much more modern and is packed with features. To be launched within a few days we drove the petrol Ciaz to find out whether the Ciaz could be the new mid-size king.
How does it look?
Immediately the Maruti Ciaz impressed us here as it simply looked as a car that belonged to a higher segment. It is longer and wider than its main rivals and that gives it a lot of presence plus you will notice the sleek styling. Yes while some of the aggression which was present in the concept has been toned down you have to say that the Ciaz is one of the best looking cars in the Maruti Suzuki range today.
You will also notice familiar Suzuki styling cues draped all over the Ciaz and notable mentions in the looks include those fantastic looking projector headlamps (which comes standard), 16 inch alloys (on top-end Z+ variant) and those big curvy tail-lamps. Things like build quality and the paint finish are quite good.
What about the interior?
Again the Ciaz interior has been carefully designed to meet requirements of customers of this segment. The large windows, interior colour and flat floor instill a sense of space inside. The big talking point here is the rear seat comfort and here three can sit comfortably plus there is excellent legroom and decent thigh support along with features like rear ac vent, rear accessory socket and rear sunshade.
As a chauffeur driven car then the Ciaz would make for an excellent choice. When it comes to storage the door pockets are big plus there is a sunglass holder, illuminated front console box etc. Boot space is also generous with 510 litres.
At the front you would have to agree that it is the best interior yet from Maruti. While there is nothing mind-blowing about the design with its sober styling, the materials, fit and finish is good. The wood finish and the chrome lift the cabin ambience though you do spot some stuff taken from other Marutis.
What gets your attention the most though is the 7 inch touchcreen which has the SmartPlay infotainment system housing various functions like rear camera display, navigation, Bluetooth, video playback, USB, Aux, ipod etc. There are other features too like steering controls, voice commands etc. You can read our detailed article on Ciaz features and variants elsewhere. Requiring a mention is the voice command feature which unlike many others works well.
How is it to drive?
This review is for the petrol Ciaz and the numbers are 91 bhp and 130Nm of torque. It is the familiar 1.4 K-series petrol albeit tweaked for better fuel efficiency. Yes speaking of fuel economy the Ciaz petrol manages 20.73 kmpl which is excellent and that is also due to the fact that the Ciaz is quite light for its size (chassis is made from high-tensile steel which keeps the weight down).
First impressions are that the Ciaz petrol is an effortless car to drive in the city. The light steering, clutch and reasonably slick 5-speed manual gearbox makes you navigate the Ciaz like a hatch. Performance at low revs is quite good too and you do not need to constantly shift through the gears.
Up the speed and here the Ciaz does decently but in the highway you do crave for more horses and engine gets a bit strained. Still it offers decent blend of performance and owners will appreciate its driving manners in the city a lot.
Okay, what about the ride and handling?
The Ciaz offers a good ride and the suspension gobbles up most bad roads with ease. During our test we took it through some bad roads doing serious speeds and the Ciaz did not skip a beat even once. High speed stability is also excellent as it comfortably sat through big triple digit speeds with ease. Handling wise the soft suspension and light steering means it is not an enthusiast car but body roll is not present in large quantities and we would say handling is decent.
Final thoughts then?
Prices have been announced and a starting price of Rs 6.99 lakh means the Ciaz is surely value for money. Available in four variants the Ciaz does everything well and Maruti has made sure it has all the qualities a buyer in this segment is looking out for. It has got the looks, features, space plus the efficient engines complete the package.
It is not something that you would want to attack the twisties with but as a comfortable, well equipped midsizer the Ciaz is easily the one we would recommend. Oh and factor in the huge Maruti sales and service network then it's the cherry on top of the cake.