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Maruti Suzuki Ertiga CNG, Common sense and CNG

On an average, a car loses about one-third of the boot space when it is fitted with a CNG cylinder. But not the Ertiga, which possibly has the best CNG packaging for a passenger vehicle in India.

In the Ertiga, the CNG cylinder doesn’t take up one-third of the boot space as it does in most other cars. But it raises the floor of the luggage area and makes it tough to load and unload heavy bags. Rising price of the CNG fuel is also playing a spoiler.

On an average, a car loses about one-third of the boot space when it is fitted with a CNG cylinder. But not the Ertiga, which possibly has the best CNG packaging for a passenger vehicle in India. In it, the CNG cylinder is subtly placed inside the boot cavity (floor of the luggage area), and neatly covered by a strong hardboard.The only flaw is that this raises the floor of the luggage area and makes it tough to load and unload heavy bags.

What is the Ertiga CNG?
Launched last month, the Ertiga CNG is actually Ertiga CNG plus petrol. In addition to the 45-litre petrol tank, it also gets a 60-litre water-equivalent (9 kg in gas) CNG cylinder. This combo makes the Ertiga one of the longest range cars in India.In the Ertiga, Maruti Suzuki claims the fuel efficiency of petrol as 20.51 km/litre and of the CNG as 26.11 km/kg. Theoretically, 45 litres of petrol tank will give you a driving range of 923 km and 9 kg of CNG another 235 km, and therefore the overall range of the Ertiga CNG is 1,158 km (real-world range should be 900-plus km).

How does it drive on CNG?
Despite the fact that in the CNG mode the engine develops lower maximum power and lower maximum torque as compared to the petrol mode, there is no difference in the way the car behaves on the road. Therefore, even in the CNG mode, the Ertiga feels peppy.The changeover from CNG to petrol and vice-versa is at the touch of a button.

Does CNG harm the engine?
On the contrary, experts say CNG is beneficial for a petrol engine. The reason is CNG doesn’t have carbon and so it does not contaminate crankcase oil, giving a new lease of life to the engine. The absence of any lead content in CNG helps avoid lead fouling of plugs, thereby enhancing plug life. As CNG enters the engine in the form of a gas (and not as a spray or mist like petrol), no carbon is generated during the combustion of CNG, reducing the chances of wear and tear.

Is it a good buy?
The Ertiga CNG retains the advantages of the Ertiga—spacious cabin, fun-to-drive character, and easy entry and exit into the third row—and is cheaper to run, but the recent price rise of the CNG fuel has played a spoiler. In Delhi, for example, CNG prices have increased from about Rs 45 per kg last year to about Rs 75 per kg now. That means the running costs of Ertiga CNG have gone up from about Rs 1.7 per km to about Rs 3 per km (running cost on petrol is about Rs 5.5 per km). That doesn’t justify Rs 95,000 extra you pay for the CNG variant.Last year around this time, much before it was launched, the Ertiga CNG would have been a great buy. Not anymore.

Specifications

Engine: 1462cc (petrol + CNG)Fuel efficiency: 20.51 km/litre (petrol)Fuel efficiency: 26.11 km/kg (CNG)Petrol tank: 45 litresCNG tank: 60 litres (about 9 kg)Petrol-only range: 923 kmCNG-only range: 235 kmOverall range: 1,158 km(Range calculated using carmaker’s claimed fuel efficiency figures; actual driving range may be lower than this)

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