The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz you see here is the first model to get Maruti’s all-new in-house developed 1.5-litre diesel engine. It comes at a time when the future of the diesel engines is looking uncertain owing to the upcoming BS-VI emission norms. But as we know that the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel was getting a little long in the tooth and would soon become obsolete. Whereas this new 1.5-litre DDiS is here to stay. While the 1.3 was the workhorse for Maruti, having powered millions of cars in the last decade, this new engine has a lot going for it as well. It is already being offered in the Ertiga and will make its way under the hood of the Vitara Brezza and S-Cross as well.
With the larger 1.5-litre displacement, the Ciaz now also comes up to the mark to its competitors, namely Honda City and Hyundai Verna. You can have this 1.5 diesel engine in three trim levels – Delta, Zeta and Alpha and it commands a price premium ranging between Rs 17,000 and Rs 47,000 (depending on the variant) over the older 1.3-litre engine. Nevertheless, to make things clear, this new 1.5-litre DDiS225 engine is not BS-VI compliant yet and doesn’t get Maruti’s SHVS mild-hybrid system either. And it can only be had with a manual transmission.
In terms of appearance, the Ciaz 1.5 diesel remains identical to other versions which were introduced last year as a part of the mid-life update. So there are no differences whatsoever in terms of design, features or even equipment as compared to the 1.3-litre or the petrol-powered version of the sedan. So you get the same new black-mesh grille, projector headlamps with LED day-time-running lights and LED fog lamps. There are chrome inserts on the fascia which might not be to everyone’s liking, but truth be told, Indian buyers love that kind of bling on their cars.
At the back, the LED taillamps look handsome and are complemented by more chrome inserts on bumpers. Adding to the style quotient of the Ciaz are those 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels which surely make the Ciaz look more upmarket. Whereas, the lower-spec models have to make do with 15-inch wheels size. Moreover, this model doesn’t get Maruti’s Smart Hybrid badge on the boot as seen on the 1.3-litre model.
Things remain unchanged on the inside as well. As we have seen, the wooden trim running across the dashboard and onto the doors instantly catches your attention. Another eye-catching feature is the large multi-colour driver information screen. It gives out a plethora of information such as average and instantaneous fuel consumption, gear indicator, comprehensive trip details, and power consumption based on throttle inputs. Also, one can alter settings for lights, displays and door locks via the system too.
Meanwhile, the centre console is dominated by Maruti’s SmartPlay infotainment system below which there are controls for automatic air-conditioning and a large storage compartment which can be closed as well. Additionally, the seats are large and supportive and come with driver height-adjustment providing a comfortable driving position. Adding to the premium feel of this rather simple cabin is the faux leather upholstery finished in beige. Overall visibility is great thanks to the thin A-pillar. Besides, the practical cabin gets large bottle holders on the doors and there’s some space under the driver armrest too. In the second row too, the Ciaz continues to offer the segment-best legroom and headroom. There’s foldable armrest too with integrated cup holders. That said, we would prefer more under-thigh support on the rear bench. Subsequently, the large boot of 510 litres is more than adequate as well.
In terms of features list the Ciaz comes standard with driver and passenger seatbelt alert, ISOFIX for child seats, dual airbags, ABS and EBD, and high-speed warning. In the top-spec trim that we have here, there are useful features such as push-button start, cruise control, automatic headlamps, electrically folding ORVMs, climate control, rear AC vents, and six-speaker system with connectivity like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. However, the Ciaz misses out on features like sunroof, cooled seats or rain-sensing wipers which are offered in the competition.
Powering the Ciaz 1.5 diesel is the Maruti’s very own DDiS225 engine. This four-cylinder turbo-diesel puts out 94bhp at 4,000rpm and a twisting force of 225Nm between 1500-2500rpm. Which means the power and torque is up by 5bhp and 25Nm respectively compared to the 1.3-litre DDiS200. Maruti says that this engine employs a dual-mass flywheel (DMF) along with optimized compression ratio to reduce engine fluctuations and improved NVH performance. And it shows once you press the engine start button.
At idle, the engine is silent and has none of the raucous clatter usually associated with diesel engines. And off the line, there’s enough grunt as well since all of the available torque is accessible from 1,500rpm. There’s some engine noise though as you shift from first gear to second while gaining momentum. But following that it all becomes silent and the engine is smooth and refined in rest of the gears. This motor is very much tractable as well, and you can potter around in the city while in second or third gear all day. There’s very little turbo lag and the engine comes alive between 1,500 and 3,500rpm. At cruising speeds, the motor is comfortable, refined and you only need a little dab on the throttle to get it up to higher speed as there’s ample torque available in the mid-range. It needs to be pointed out that this is a high revving engine, unlike other diesel engines, but the power tapers off by around 5,000rpm. On the flip side, this engine is best driven sedately and is not the best choice for enthusiastic driving. Also, the motor feels quite sluggish below 1500rpm which might be because of the tall gear ratio. Which brings us to the transmission. This 1.5 diesel only comes with a six-speed manual gearbox which is an all-new introduction in India. This new gearbox is slick, has crisp gear shifts with little to no notchy feel to it, and is complemented by a light clutch.
In terms of ride and handling, the Ciaz has a comfortable and cushy ride as the suspension soaks up bumps and uneven surfaces with ease. However, the sharp edged potholes can be felt inside the cabin and the Ciaz can do better in terms of NVH. However, the lack of appropriate underbody NVH insulation can be felt at highway speeds, and that is a bummer especially since the rivals offer much quieter ride. As for the steering, it is light and hence makes city maneuvering a breeze. However, it tends to feel vague around the dead center, and it could also have weighed-up better at higher speeds. Besides, the Ciaz remains planted at highway speeds as well and the body roll isn’t as much to complain about.
Lastly, this new engine – in typical Maruti fashion – is fuel-efficient as well. In our test, the Ciaz 1.5 diesel managed a best-in-class fuel efficiency of 18.53kmpl in the city and 21.14kmpl on the highway. And that’s without Maruti’s SHVS mild hybrid system.
Pictures By - Kapil Angane