New Ertiga has a more confident presence, with its bullish grille, squarer headlamps and character lines down the side. Picture: SUPPLIED
New Ertiga has a more confident presence, with its bullish grille, squarer headlamps and character lines down the side. Picture: SUPPLIED

There is a trio of choices for those seeking a new seven-seater priced below R250,000. Consumers can pick from the Toyota Avanza, a staple of the public transport industry, or between relative newcomers such as the Honda BR-V and Suzuki Ertiga.

The second-generation Ertiga has been launched in SA as a longer and wider people carrier. From a styling perspective, the second-generation Ertiga appears to have sharpened its identity, straying from the nondescript template of before.

It has a more confident presence, with its bullish grille, larger, squarer headlamps and character lines down the side.

On the inside, you will find that black is the new beige: the latest Ertiga foregoes the default, light upholstery for the hard-wearing hue of coal. It’s far more conducive to disguising juice spills, paw prints and grimy fingers.

The seven-seat interior is roomier. All occupants gain additional shoulder room while those in the third row get an extra 15mm of shoulder space and 70mm of leg space. Access to the third row has been made easier, since the second seating row tilts and slides further forward.

With the fourth-generation Jimny in 2018, Suzuki debuted a new 1,462cc, four-cylinder, normally-aspirated petrol engine. This has been adopted by the Ertiga, producing 77kW and 138Nm in this application. Buyers can either have a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

The seven-seat interior is roomier. All occupants gain additional shoulder room while those in the third row also get more leg space. Picture: SUPPLIED
The seven-seat interior is roomier. All occupants gain additional shoulder room while those in the third row also get more leg space.  Picture: SUPPLIED

Overall, I came away pleased with the on-road persona of the multipurpose vehicle when driving it at the media launch. It’s steady at freeway speeds and happy trundling through the city — albeit requiring constant shifter work to keep the momentum up.

For brisk momentum in the cut-and-thrust of Johannesburg traffic, the Ertiga required vim from the right foot — with the tachometer needle receiving a full workout. Granted, we were chasing time as part of an interactive challenge set up by the launch organisers. And driven more gently, the registered consumption of 7l/100km would have likely improved. There are reservations, however, as to how it is likely to perform fully laden.

The entry-level GA version was not available to sample at the launch and we spent our time with the middle-grade GL. This offers reverse parking sensors, air conditioning (for the second row too), electric windows and an audio system comprising Bluetooth as well as controls mounted on the steering wheel. A variant with an even greater level of specification is on the cards for later in 2019.

The engineers were more liberal in their usage of insulation materials: thicker door seals and damping material in the roof and floor are more effective at hushing the din. On the safety front, dual frontal airbags, antilock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution are standard even on the entry-level GA version.

Suzuki has ensured its relevance with a product onslaught that is defined by affordability, frugality and durability. The Ertiga will strike a chord with buyers with versatility and keen pricing at the top of their list. It is a sensible seven-seater that will not leave thrift-seekers feeling shortchanged.

Pricing:

1.5 GA MT: R214,900

1.5 GL MT: R239,900

1.5 GL AT: R254,900