Maruti Suzuki started working on a 1.5-litre diesel engine for the Indian market when oil-burners were still a preferred choice for urban commuters. The move took into consideration the dependency the carmaker had on Fiat, from which it sourced its diesel engines (the 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre Multijet units) and hence wanted to reduce the same eventually. However, with the introduction of stringent Bharat Stage 6 emission regulations, which comes in effect starting April 2020, the development of the new 1.5-litre diesel engine seemed like a not so obvious choice. That said, Maruti Suzuki decided to introduce the same in the Indian market nevertheless in its C-segment sedan Ciaz considering the amount of money and time that it has invested in the development of the same.
The introduction of an in-house developed diesel engine, churning out 95 BHP of power along with 225 Nm of peak torque, the DDiS 225, marks a significant step for Maruti Suzuki despite considering the current market sentiment towards oil-burners. The importance of the same increases even more so after the automaker's recent announcement that it will discontinue all diesel engines from its portfolio from April 2020. And hence, the Ciaz with the 1.5-litre diesel could be your last chance to buy a Maruti Suzuki with an in-house developed oil-burner at heart. But should you? Is Maruti's first attempt at a diesel engine worth investing your money? We answer these and all the other important questions related to the same in this detailed road-test review. Read along!
The major inhibitions that we had pertaining to this new engine were related to its refinement levels. Suzuki, Maruti's parent company has predominantly focused on developing petrol engines in the past and this is only the second time that the company has developed a diesel engine in-house. Honda, Suzuki's Japanese counterpart took a really long time to smoothen out the NVH levels of its first in-house developed diesel engine. So does Suzuki's second attempt suffer from the same problem?
Well surprise, surprise, it does not! The moment you start the engine, you become aware of the fact that Maruti has invested a lot of effort in making sure that this engine offers high-levels of refinement. In fact, one of the major reasons for the delayed introduction of this engine in Maruti's fleet, under the hood of the Ciaz, is that the carmaker was not initially convinced by the refinement levels offered by this engine. Considering the lack of refinement in Maruti's first in-house diesel engine (2-cyl mill for Celerio) one has to applaud the effort put in by Maruti engineers to smoothen this unit out.
The 'clattering' which is synonymous to a diesel engine is not audible even when the motor is idling. However, the vibrations of the same can be felt through the pedals at times. Once on the go, the realisation that you have a diesel engine under the hood only becomes apparent if you push it too hard. Under city driving conditions, with light throttle inputs, the NVH levels of this 1.5-litre unit are at par with the best in the segment.
In terms of performance, this engine provides the required grunt to take on any challenge a day to day city traffic is going to throw at you. However, you do have to make sure that the engine stays above the threshold of 1,500 rpm, as the response is quite dull below the same. As a result of this, we found ourselves downshifting on several occasions when the need for a quick overtake was at hand. It is in these conditions that the torque assist function that comes with Maruti's SHVS system, would have improved things slightly. However, the same is currently not offered with this oil-burner.
Since this engine has been tuned to serve its power in a linear fashion, it's performance is not outright as ballistic as, let's say, the 1.5-litre oil-burner available in Ford's arsenal. As a result of this, more often then not, you are left wanting for more. That said, considering the fact that an average Ciaz buyer is not going to thrash it around and will be using it in the city or for occasional highway stints, this engine does not disappoint.
Maruti has paired this engine with an all-new 6-speed manual gearbox. Operating the same is very convenient. The gears slot in with positive feedback, while the clutch operation is very light, again, perfect for city driving conditions. Our only gripe from it is that the pedal travel is a bit too much and might become inconvenient for shorter people, especially if stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for a long time.
In addition to this, since this 1.5-litre diesel engine is slightly heavier than the petrol unit, the suspension of the Ciaz has been slightly altered to accommodate the extra weight. Though the ride quality is good, things do get slightly bumpy at times. That said, this slightly stiffer suspension works like a dream when travelling at highway speeds by keeping the car stable.
To sum it up then, the all-new 1.5-litre, DDiS 225 diesel engine, plonked under the hood of the all-new Ciaz, makes a strong case for itself. It is one of the most refined diesel units amongst its class and offers decent levels of performance considering the vehicle and segment it caters to. Paired to a smooth operating 6-speed manual transmission, and offering a decent fuel-efficiency figure of 20 km/l (Test Figures), it showcases the big technical strides taken by Maruti Suzuki. However, the main question that stands in front of us is if it will be accepted by the masses under the current market sentiment? Will Maruti Suzuki last hurrah carve out a niche for itself or get lost in the history books?