Maruti bets on Ciaz to cruise back into mid segment

Written by Anil Sasi | Jaipur | Updated: Sep 4 2014, 14:47pm hrs
Maruti CiazThe petrol engine makes 92.45 PS at 6,000 rpm while the diesel generates 90 PS of power at 4,000 rpm. (Image Courtesy: CarDekho)
For Maruti Suzuki, the launch of its new Ciaz marks a strong bid by the countrys largest car manufacturer to re-establish its presence in the midsize sedan segment, a category where both its earlier offerings the SX4 and the Baleno struggled to replicate the companys success in the small car segment.

The A3 plus category that the Ciaz is hoping to muscle into is currently dominated by the new Honda City and the Hyundai Verna. For Maruti Suzuki, which accounts for almost 45 per cent of the countrys 25 lakh units passenger vehicle market, claims of record mileage figures and aggressive pricing are expected to bolster efforts to notch up volumes in a segment that has eluded Maruti Suzuki so far. The City currently sells about 6,000 units a month while the Verna does about 5,000 units, followed by the Volkswagen Vento and the Skoda Rapid.

Designed largely in Japan, the Ciaz is being pitched as the most fuel-efficient car in India. Mayank Pareek, COO, sales & marketing at Maruti Suzuki said, The market size of the A3+ (midsize sedan) segment is about 16,000 units a year and we aiming for leadership. In the A3- segment, the Dzire is already the market leader.

THE PACKAGE

While the Ciaz does appear to be distinct from any of the other models in the Maruti fold, the Suzuki family look is reinforced by the four-slat chromed grille and an understated overall styling. What is evident, though, is the large size of the car. At just short of four and a half metres in length, the Ciaz has the largest footprint among all the mid-segment models.

Despite this, the car tips the scales at 1,010 kg and 1,105kg for the petrol and diesel versions, respectively, which is light for its size. This, according to Maruti engineers, has been achieved as the car has been developed on an all new modular ultra lightweight platform that uses high tensile steel across the body panels.

This, alongside efforts to sharply improving the cars overall aerodynamics and optimize tyre resistance, has helped Maruti to achieve mileage figures of 20.72 kmpl for the petrol and 26.21kmpl (ARAI-certified figures) for the diesel.

The Ciaz will also be one of the first car from Maruti to feature safety features like ABS and driver-side airbag in all but the base spec trim. The feature-rich top two trims get passenger side airbags too.

THE DRIVE

The car will be powered by the 1.4-litre K-Series petrol, which first debuted in the Ertiga, and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel, both of which have been tweaked for the Ciaz.

The petrol engine makes 92.45 PS at 6,000 rpm while the diesel generates 90 PS of power at 4,000 rpm.

The Ciaz does offer a planted stance and great ride quality, with a suspension set-up that is tuned on the softer side. Of the two mills, the diesel with its low and high-end torque is raring to be revved while the petrol engine appears to be a tad underpowered and there is some degree of engine noise that seeps into the cabin.

The pricing, though, could hold the key to how the new car fares in the mid-size segment slugfest. While bookings opened on Wednesday, indications are that the Ciaz will be launched in the first week of October at an estimated price of around Rs 7 lakh (entry level petrol) and about Rs 8 lakh (diesel).