Maruti has launched its seventh small car, and of course, we’ve driven it! While you have to wait for the June issue of BSM for a detailed drive story, here are over a dozen things you wanted to know about the Suzuki Ritz, but didn’t know whom to ask
Is it bigger than the Swift?
It is not bigger than the Swift, though it is taller overall. It shares the same platform as the Swift.
If it is known as the Suzuki Splash abroad, why is it not called the same in India?
Because the title 'Splash' is registered by Ford in India. So expect a Ranger pick-up version called Splash soon.
Is it easy to get in and out of the Ritz?
Yes, your parents will find it convenient to get in and out of the Ritz. You simply walk into the car — no more bending. Getting out is a breeze too. The near-SUV-like driving position is great when you have to spend long hours in traffic.
Why should you consider the Ritz when you can buy the established Swift, in both petrol and diesel?
Well, you should stick to your guns and buy the Swift if what you are looking for is out and out driving pleasure. The USP of the Ritz is a funkier and yet practical body style along with an airy, refreshing cabin.
What is so unique about the Ritz interior?
A two-tone colour-coordinated interior makes it look less plasticky, to begin with. Then there is the dash-mounted gear lever (yes, it is creeping back towards the steering column!), pricey bits from expensive cars like the SX4 (steering wheel), a large single speedo (like in the new Mini), a very ‘after market’ tachometer and brilliant ergonomics. We loved it.
Is it the same petrol engine as in the Swift?
Well, the petrol engine is all new — designated K12, this DOHC unit displaces 1197cc to develop 84 bhp at 6000 rpm and 11.3 kgm at 4500 rpm. It is expected to return 13-14 kpl.
How about the diesel?
The diesel unit is similar to the one that powers the diesel versions of the Swift and Swift Dzire. This 74 bhp engine has lots of torque at 19 kgm and can return 15-20 kpl depending on driving conditions.
Is it still being produced in Europe?
Yes, it is a very successful car under the name Suzuki Splash in Europe. Actually, this car was designed in Europe with European sensibilities in mind.
Is it quick and spirited to drive?
It is adequately quick and fast, if not spine-chillingly so. Want more involvement? Then buy the Swift.
How does it handle potholed roads?
Ride quality on bad roads is way better than that of the Swift, thanks to improved shock absorbers. The car is well planted around corners too, if you are interested.
Can I buy it with airbags and ABS?
Yes, the ZXi version with the petrol engine comes with ABS-EBD (anti-lock braking system and electronic brake distribution — prevents the wheels locking up under heavy braking. For example, you can steer around a cow or a pedestrian while standing on the brake) and airbags. If you are a diesel car buyer, you cannot avail of passive safety in the form of airbags, but you can still opt for ABS+EBD in the VDi variant.
What else can I consider, if not the Ritz?
Well, you have the Hyundai i20 with its 1.2-litre petrol engine, for starters. It’s a quality small car with lots of space, but the engine lacks grunt. Another choice is the Skoda Fabia, that also boasts of great build quality, good space and ride. But the engines (1.2 petrol and 1.4 diesel) are adequate at best and the car is pricey to buy and maintain too. The upcoming Fiat Grande Punto and the Honda Jazz could upset matters here for the Ritz, but it all depends on how they price it.
One thing we would do to improve the Ritz package?
Launch a version with matte-black bumpers and offer it in taxi colours — this car, with its enormous interior space and with a frugal diesel engine, makes for a brilliant taxi cab.