The C-segment in the Indian car market is being revived as roughly every automaker exists in this segment has launched or gearing up to launch either the facelift or successor of their already deployed models. This year, 2014, started with launch of the new Honda City that has taken company’s sales to new heights. After that, Hyundai introduced the updated Verna fluidic with minor cosmetic as well as mechanical changes to take the heat off itself and defend its position in the market. Thenceforth, just two months back, Nissan contributed its share by introducing the 2014 Sunny facelift while, around the same time, Ford India managed to turn heads by reinvigorating the older nerdy Fiesta into a slinky thing of beauty.
Remaining players like Volkswagen, Skoda and Renault are also sowing their seeds and garnering diminutive share with the Vento, Rapid and Scala respectively. Well, the latest entrant that’s all set to step in to this arduous rivalry is the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz – India’s largest carmaker’s second masterstroke in this year. What more interesting about the Ciaz is it’s arriving not only as a replacement of the excessively bold SX4, but Maruti staking its reputation on it to redefine its brand image as a premium car maker, which none of the Grand Vitara, Kizashi, SX4 and Baleno has failed to accomplish over the past few years even after being superior in some ways to their competitors.
Anyway, what we are getting now is a new contemporary car that arguably looks a cut above its competition. However, the Ciaz is completely based on its concept that was debuted at the 2014 Auto Expo but, personally, I find its fundamental design-inspiration has been taken from the now-discontinued Kizashi. Behold its sharp-edged headlights, chrome-laden grille, broad dimensions and low slung stance that however seem absolutely modern but are echoes of the Kizashi. Its natty style has been improved further by adding bold character lines on the flanks, adding substance to rear-end by fitting angular tail lamps and all in all executing whole of the bodywork in a sober manner. The Ciaz is measured at 4490mm in length, 1485mm in height, 1730mm in width and has a large wheelbase of 2650mm- longest and widest in the segment so far – while boot space is 510 liters. It’s also ready to set benchmark in terms of cabin space, evident from its interior images surfacing over the web world.
The cabin of the Ciaz is well executed and design layout is modern and classy too. Unlike its predecessor, it has turned out too angular. The dashboard sports horizontally placed closeable AC vents while a 5-inch large touchscreen infotainment system at the center console uplifting cabin appearance. More importantly, rear legroom is colossal and retractable blinds for rear windows, dual-air cons and a 12V charging point have been featured to uplift comfort for the rear passengers. Additionally, features like engine start/stop button, rear parking camera with display on dash, Bluetooth, aux-in, USB enabled audio system with 6 speakers, audio controls on tilt-adjustable steering wheel, voice recognition, rear defogger, all four power windows, front airbags, projector headlamps and much more has been on offering on the new sedan. Anti-lock braking system and Electronic Brake-force Distribution will be offered as standard on all diesel variants.
Under the skin, the Ciaz is not much of an all-new construction and essentially is built upon Maruti’s tried-and-trusted unibody platform. This platform is being used by a large number of cars from Maruti portfolio including the Swift, Dzire and Ritz. However, the new sedan uses an extended version which the Ertiga MPV and the SX4 sedan are also based upon. Available in diesel and petrol engine options, the new sedan shares its power plants with the Ertiga MPV. Thus, a 1.3-litre DDiS engine, producing 90ps and 200 Nm of torque, in VGT form is bolted under the hood of diesel lineup, while a 1.4-litre K-Series motor, churning out 92.45ps and 130 Nm of torque, serves duty on the petrol variants. All engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox but petrol buyers will also have a choice of 4-speed automatic gearbox. These engines deliver an impressive ARAI certified mileage of 20.73 kmpl in the case of petrol and 26.21 kmpl in the case of diesel. The petrol model Ciaz tips the scales at 1010 kg for petrol and 1105 kg for the diesel.
The Ciaz will be offered in 8 variants, four – VXi, VXi+, ZXi, ZXI+ for petrol and VDi, VDi+, ZDi and ZDi+ for diesel. Ground clearance measures 170mm while top-of-the-line variants will be offered with 16-inch wheels. We also expect the Ciaz to be a better handler than the SX4 as stretched wheelbase and low slung design might have benefit it better stability and sharp steering response at high speeds.
Indeed, the Ciaz is an all-round package that’s loaded with all bells and whistles to appeal to a wide segment of buyers. It has arresting looks, spacious yet comfortable cabin and carries an executive road presence that’s fresh and is not much of a typical Maruti. Further, Maruti’s extensive sales and service network at its back is no less than the icing on the cake. However, in terms of performance, it will probably have a not-so-exciting character but that should not emerge as a downside as both power units are performing well and have been widely accepted by the Ertiga MPV buyers. The company has started taking bookings for with an initial amount of Rs 21,000. (Read here)
Rivaling this new Cat in town will definitely be a tough row to hoe for existing players in the market.
Launch Date – By Mid-October
Price Range – Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh (expected)
Competitors – Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Volkswagen Vento, Nissan Sunny, Skoda Rapid, Ford Fiesta, Renault Scala