Friday, May 15, 2009

Maruti Suzuki Ritz first drive : Maruti's grown-up hatchback

The Ritz's design ensures you get more than a glance on the road.

Maruti knows how to make and market a small car. They’ve got something for everyone’s tastes. Want the world’s cheapest car, bar the Nano? They’ve got it. Want one of the most fuel-efficient diesels in the country? They’ve got it as well. However, Maruti’s been looking at what we didn’t know they didn’t have, and are filling in the gaps in their stable. Enter the Ritz – Maruti’s big hatchback for families.
    The Ritz is known worldwide as the Splash, but has been renamed for India. One of the reasons is copyright issues. Maruti could have purchased it from the owner, but the car, as with most modern Marutis, has been re-engineered for India, hence the change in name. The shape of the car is unusual, the tall body and wide hips combining with the slightly concave rear making everyone do a double take when they first lay eyes on it. The front houses large headlamps and a grille that any Audi fan will recognise. The glass area on the side has quarter glasses both front and rear, and the window line rises steeply towards the rear, giving it a sporty look. The rear three-quarters is the most interesting angle, with the well-designed tail-lamps our favourite design feature.
    The interior is the place to be. The front seats are so high off the floor, you feel like you’re sitting in an armchair. An offshoot of sitting so high is that you don’t feel like you’re sitting in a small car at all. Grey and black are combined well – some of the exterior colours offer the option of blue and grey as the interior combination. The driver has a single large speedometer with warning lamps surrounding it. The tachometer is placed in its own pod on top of the dashboard, just like a drag-racing car. All that’s missing is a shift light! The gearshift is short and positive, like the Swift’s, but the lever is now positioned at the bottom of the centre console, like the i10’s lever. The mirrors are large and show you all you need to see in them – the outside mirrors are convex, but the one on the inside is a plane mirror, because it has an anti-glare coating that works automatically. There aren’t any blind spots, however. The front seats are very comfortable, but if a six-footer sits in front, the rear passenger may have to compromise on space. There is a storage space above the glovebox, which is thoughtful, as is the coin holder and press-to-open flap on the dashboard, like the Ford Fusion’s. The door pockets can hold maps or small bottles. The boot is a little small for our liking, but isn’t cause for concern, since this is primarily a city car. - Used cars, new cars, buy cars, sell cars, car finance, car insurance, car values You can choose motive power from the 1.2-litre K12M petrol with 85bhp, or the ubiquitous 1.3-litre, 75bhp DDiS engine. They have claimed fuel efficiencies of 17.1 and 21.1kpl respectively. Our pick is the diesel – it may not truly wake up until after 2000rpm, but it gets up to 130kph without too much strain. The petrol is related to the A-Star’s KB10 engine. This one is a four-pot and sounds really very good – but will disappoint the enthusiast. It pulls well at low revs, but there is no joy to be had by spinning it to the redline. We were surprised, because Suzuki’s petrol engines have always been good fun, right up to the A-Star’s powerplant, and this is the first time we’ve encountered a petrol-powered Maruti that didn’t like being revved hard. This isn’t really a problem, since the target customer isn’t the racy type, but we’d have liked it to be a little enthusiastic. It redeems itself in the emissions stakes – this is India’s first BS-4 compliant car.
    Our test drive was on one of the smoothest roads in Mumbai – Palm Beach Road – so we cannot form a definite opinion on the Ritz’s ride, but from the few patches of rough road we encountered, we can say that it’s a big improvement over the Swift. It keeps bad roads out, yet offers competent handling without too much body roll. Maruti says that crosswinds do not upset the car, despite its tall stance.
    Pricing for the car hasn’t been revealed yet, but expect it to slot in above the Swift. We think Maruti’s got another winner on their hands, and expect long waiting periods for the diesel, as with the Swift and the Swift Dzire.

Better ride/handling compromise compared to Swift, interior space, frugal engines

Unenthusiastic petrol engine


Ramesh Oberoi said...

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Ruchi Parihar said...

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