By Shubhodeep ChakravartyAlso Read - Diwali 2021 Offers: Here Are All Benefits, Discounts On Your Favourite Maruti, Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra, Honda Cars

The Ciaz has been gunning for glory in the C-Segment sedan category for a number of years. And it has fared reasonably well. Pushing forward past worthy rivals like the Hyundai Verna and the Honda City was never going to be a drive in the park but Ciaz managed to do just that to steer clear and in the lead. In recent times though, the car began looking a tad jaded and a bit too common, especially with the City and Verna both receiving appreciable facelifts. Also Read - Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Ciaz, Ignis, S-Cross: Major Festive Offers, Discounts On Nexa Models In October 2021

While both cars have since done good sales numbers, Maruti Suzuki has jumped back into the game and has launched the 2018 Ciaz – a car that gets subtle design changes and a new 1.5-litre hybrid petrol engine that promises to change the rules of engagement. Also Read - Maruti Suzuki Discounts, Festive Offers On Alto, S-Presso, WagonR, Swift, Dzire, Vitara Brezza. Details Inside

So, is the new Ciaz worthy enough to carry forward the legacy and bring down not just its direct rivals but competitors in the cross-over and compact SUV segment?

Exteriors:

The Ciaz was never the class-topper when the test was about looks. Hyundai used, perhaps overused, the Fluidic design philosophy to give the Verna sharp lines and curves while the City looked quite purposeful. And yet, supremacy through simplicity is what Ciaz hinted at and now carries forward.

The bulk of the changes in how the new Ciaz looks is up at the front with an all-new grille with short horizontal dashes and the ‘S’ badging on top. On either sides are flared LED headlights that add just that little tibge of sportiness – especially because of the LED DRLs. Below are the LED fog lamps and a redesigned bumped that runs the entire length of the front fascia.

The newly-designed 16-inch alloys are the only major changes in the side profile of the car.

The rear too is not tinkered with much – barring the LED tail lights that lends a character to the back profile of the car.

Interiors:

Maruti has decided to cabin of the new Ciaz as roomy and airy as ever but now with a bit of luxurious class. The beige colour tone, leather seats and the addition of a Birchwood trim on the dash make for a pleasant visual appeal while the quality of plastics used are not much to complain about either.

The touchscreen centre console with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto has generous proportions and can be accessed with ease. There is also a multi-information display unit now behind the steering wheel – which now gets an all-new cruise control buttons. The MiD displays vital information like power, torque, average fuel consumption and driving statistics.

The front two seats offer a commanding view of the road ahead and also provide decent lumber support for comfort during long drives. The back seats are quite a delight as well with generous shoulder room, big windows and acceptable levels of under-thigh support. The headroom though leaves a bit more to be desired and while the rear AC vents and charging points continue to be crucial for rear-seat passengers, the middle seat occupant would have to curl their legs just a little bit to fit in. This is especially valid for people taller than the Indian average.

Drive:

While there is an auto option available as well, this review focused on the manual petrol option. And the Ciaz passes most checks.

The change from the 1.4 engine to the new 1.5 engine is not merely a numerical upgrade but one that is felt evidently once the Ciaz comes to life. Maruti Suzuki’s K15B engine has more oomph and is amply helped by a slick five-speed manual transmission unit that makes changing gears an effortless task.

There is also an additional lithium-ion battery unit in the petrol version which, among other features, helps the car remain frugal while not compromising on performance.

Maruti says the ARAI figures for the new Ciaz are at 21.56kpl (manual) and 20.73 (auto) which are also a bump up from the outgoing model.

In terms of handling, the new Ciaz remains nimble as ever and would not have any trouble whatsoever in weaving its way in and out of city traffic. A bit of feedback though would have been appreciable while a flat-bottom – like in the Dzire and the Swift – would have lent a sporty touch.

Maruti claims that the suspension set-up in the new Ciaz has been tweaked a little bit and that too is amply evident when taking the car over potholes. It manages to cushion passengers over most of what Indian roads have to offer and body roll on sharp turns is also mostly in check. Ground clearance though remains a concern and in this review, the car scraped unforgiving speed breakers on more than one occasion. A fully packed car over speed breakers would almost always mean scrapes for the chassis below.

The drive is where the Ciaz truly shines with a smooth and linear performance all the way to 1800RPM. The 105hp at 6000RPM and 138Nm of torque make for a sufficiently powerful drive even if the Verna and the City have superior figures. Taking the Ciaz beyond 1800RPM is where the driver’s input is required and while enthusiasts might feel short-changed, others would fare well as long as they plan overtaking moves in advance and with confidence.

The car is reasonably stable at high speeds as well and now comes with a speed warning system. Two beeps every 60 seconds at and after 80 kmph and a continuous beep at and after 120kmph seek to remind drivers to exercise caution. And when the drive is done, the optional Suzuki Connect telematics system can be used to examine the car, the driver performance and the overall experience itself.

Verdict:

The 2018 Ciaz builds on the strengths of the outgoing model and adds just that little extra to remain a formidable sedan. The new petrol engine is a major shot in the arm for Maruti Suzuki and undercutting the competition in pricing means that this here has the potential to remain a sought-after sedan in the Indian market.