DRIVEN: Proton Ertiga – taking it out on the road

No shame in rebadging, if it serves up a remedy that would otherwise take as well long – and too significantly – to accomplish. Such is the case with the Proton Ertiga, which features the Suzuki MPV with the very same name as its donor. It’s the initial automobile to come about from the collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer, carried more than virtually wholesale for deployment in this market place.

As has been talked about ahead of, the notion behind the compact MPV’s introduction is straightforward adequate. Although the automaker has the Exora, not everybody needs a huge individuals mover, and price is often a paramount consideration at this level. With most just wanting as many seats for as tiny outlay as achievable, a B-segment supplying fits that short in the most appropriate style.

Which is where the Ertiga comes in. It opens up a complete new front for the national carmaker, affording it the means to take on long-standing and established competition such as the Perodua Alza with out possessing to go through the whole rigmarole of possessing to design and create one from scratch.

We take a closer appear to see if the off-the-shelf fix measures up. It is actually the second go with the Ertiga, but the initial was very significantly limited in scope, confined to the automaker’s test track in November last year. This time out, we put the MPV via its paces by means of a more reflective road test.

1st, a fast revisit of the automobile and its specifications. No revelations to be identified in those lines, even though the unfettered, generic shape must hold up well over the lengthy run. Compared to the original, the front finish of the Proton derivative functions a wider grille with a chrome bar running across the width. The front bumper has also been redesigned and functions larger fog lamp surrounds.

The rear, meanwhile, gets a mix of elements from the facelifted and pre-facelift Suzuki model, and the Ertiga sits on 5-split-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels across the model range, dressed with 185/65 GT Radial Champiro Eco tyres. A point about the centre caps, which wear the new Proton logo – fitment on the test mules didn’t look really flush or uniform, so that is one thing to boost on.

At 4,265 mm extended, 1,695 mm wide and 1,685 mm tall, with a wheelbase of two,740 mm, the Ertiga – which sits on a stretched Swift platform – is 327 mm shorter and 114 mm narrower than the Exora, but has a ten mm longer wheelbase. As for the Alza, it is major competitor, the Ertiga is five millimetres shorter and 65 mm taller, even though the Perodua has a wheelbase that’s ten mm longer.

The cabin is a dead ringer for that on the Suzuki, with every little thing brought more than in bulk, the only change being the Proton logo adorning the steering wheel boss. You get only one flavour for the interior, and that is a grey/beige colour scheme. Whilst the bright tone option lends a better perception of space, there are prospective troubles with going that route, but more about this later.

The drive presented a review of the rear dimensions of the interior via numbers. Past the rear aperture, you get 850 mm of available height, even though there’s 1,180 mm of width pre-wheel properly and 1,000 mm in in between the wheel wells. Depth, with the third-row seats totally folded, is 1,000 mm, growing to 1,820 mm with the second-row folded. With both rear row seats folded, there’s extremely decent cargo space to be had, at least to sight.

The Ertiga is offered in 3 variants, an Executive manual (RM58,800) and automatic (RM61,800) as well as an Executive Plus auto (RM64,800). A recap on gear. Normal across the range are front and rear fog lights, rear parking sensors, USB connectivity, two 12V power sockets (one particular in the second row), a rear air-con blower and a 4-speaker audio system.

The Plus adds on chrome garnish for the front fog lamp surrounds and the interior door handles, a driver seat height adjuster, a multi-function steering wheel and two front seat back pockets (as opposed to one particular on the base Executive). Also on, power-folding door mirrors with integrated LED indicators and and two dashboard-mounted tweeters to bump up the speaker count to six. No Bluetooth for the audio kit, although.

As for safety kit, the Ertiga is equipped with dual airbags, ABS with EBD and Isofix child seat anchors on the second row. There’s no electronic stability control offered for the vehicles right here, but regardless of this, the model is nevertheless worth a four-star ASEAN NCAP rating.

Energy comes courtesy of the Japanese automaker’s K14B 1.4 litre naturally-aspirated DOHC VVT petrol engine, familiar to all from the Swift hatchback. Here, it delivers 92 PS at six,000 rpm and 130 Nm at four,000 rpm, paired with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

The output figures aren’t all that hot (for instance, it has 14 hp and six Nm significantly less than the Alza), but it is nonetheless very good sufficient to get the Ertiga from standstill to 100 km/h in 11.eight seconds for the manual and 13.9 seconds for the auto.

What it lacks in output, it tends to make up for in fuel economy. On paper, the Ertiga is capable to achieve 5.7 litres per one hundred km (manual) and six. litres per one hundred km (automatic) on an European NEDC cycle run, which tends to make it the automaker’s first automobile to get an Power Effective Vehicle (EEV) certification. It is also the very first compact MPV in Malaysia to acquire the status.

On to the functionality. The day-long drive of the Ertiga began with a fuel economy challenge, carried out over a 72 km-extended route out from Proton’s Centre of Excellence to Bandar Malawati in Kuala Selangor. Cruising along for the most at speeds of 80-90 km/h on the motorway, the Ertiga felt smooth and largely poised, with the MPV very agreeable to the unhurried, light throttle approach we had been taking with it.

As for FC numbers, primarily based on the trip laptop reading, colleague Durrani Shahrom and I managed to coax 21.7 km per litre from the MPV more than the reasonably quick course. Unless you’re going to drive feather-footed and not encounter considerably site visitors situations on a daily basis, which is hugely improbable, this figure isn’t anyplace close to being realistic.

On the challenge, some heavier-footed drivers had been carrying out 17-18s, so primarily based on this a genuine-world average someplace in the 14-15s will be workable if you are judicious with the throttle, which is what the final reading was when we rolled in back to the COE in the evening, getting accomplished a lot more than 200 km. For the fuel challenge, we can only report our personal numbers, simply because the final figures elsewhere have been jumbled.

As expected, the steering has extremely small feel, but is light enough for urban function, and front seat comfort is decent. The second row seats, which can be slid backward and forwards as a lot as 240 mm, offer very good legroom if there are no third-row occupants, with the capacity to tilt the seat-backs becoming a boon.

Go with six, nevertheless, and it becomes a considerably tighter affair. To provide workable knee-space clearance on the very final row, second-row passengers will have to haul in the seats and have the seat-backs – completely – tilted up.

For short hops, this will not be an concern, and the rear-most seats are absolutely workable despite an apparent lack of headroom for taller passengers. Actually, that is quite considerably what they will be for, for brief runs within the city, since you can’t seat six and try lengthy-distance runs, not if you want to carry baggage, which presumably most do on out-of-town trips. If so, with 135 litres with the rear seats in position, these bags will have to be fairly little.

The Alza of course faces the very same concern, and has even much less space to boot (negative pun) with 83 litres, so one particular genuinely can’t complain about what’s offered on the Ertiga. If you do fold flat the third-row seating to accommodate luggage, this goes up to 400 litres, but then you’re basically left with a four-seater.

Now, the second-row 60:40 split bench can truly seat three, but with no lap belt in spot, that indicates the middle-most passenger goes without security. Not that it has stopped most, truth be told. An option permutation for five and cargo would be to deploy a single third-row seat and hope that half the accessible volume (about 200 litres) functions.

On to ride and handling. As opposed to the Perdana, exactly where at least there was some tyre-tuning on hand, the Ertiga rides and handles specifically as the Suzuki it was designed as. The latter aspect is not expected to be a forte on an providing such as this, and it is not.

Preserve it tidy and it is all quite manageable. Try corners at slightly larger speeds, even so, and you’ll discover fairly a bit of roll and only typical levels of grip, with a tail exhibiting a liveliness that isn’t all that reassuring. With no VSC present, even more so, and the latter is one thing that must be addressed.

The exact same can also be stated about ride elements. In an urban context and corresponding speeds there’s little to complain about, with secondary ride becoming fairly clean. The principal takes a bit more receiving used to, a lot more from the second row on, the stiffness brought about by the torsion beam set-up being evident.

At national highway speed limits and beyond, second row occupants will have to contend with a fair quantity of jiggle, amplified even additional on the third row. Makes you wonder what could have been had Proton’s ride and handling boys been provided the chance to work on the set-up.

Nonetheless, it is not uncomfortable, the Ertiga you just have to take a a lot more measured approach with it, as was noticed in the initial fuel economy component of the drive. In terms of civility, factors remain largely intact running into the 90-one hundred km/h variety, with 110 km/h becoming borderline in terms of NVH and general ride refinement.

Press on into and above the 120 mark and you’ll locate that while wind and road noise levels remain decent, the powertrain – and drivetrain – begins getting very raucous, and not extremely pleasantly so. The mill loses severe puff as well as the speed climbs, and even though it’s achievable to get the Ertiga to 160 km/h, inquiries remain as to how it will fare hauling more in the way of load, seeing as there have been only two in our car.

No surprises with the four-speed Aisin automatic’s functionality. You can really feel the transitions and the lack of gearing becomes apparent as you move higher up the speed scale, but it works well adequate in moving the MPV about in slower-paced urban applications.

A word about the auxiliary air-conditioning for second- and third-row occupants. The ceiling-mounted rear unit – which has its personal devoted cooling coil – takes in air from the cabin through a series of front facing intake vents, and the blower becomes really audible from the front row as a outcome of those apertures. No complaints about its efficiency although.

Some thoughts about the beige part of the two-tone colour scheme that adorns the interior. Light colours undoubtedly make the cabin really feel airier and bigger, and they always appear fantastic when new, but you can just see troubles cropping up down the road.

The seat fabric aside, high get in touch with wear locations appear to be the arm rest fabric on the door card and side panelling on the centre console. Actually, several places of the plastic trim appear like they will not be capable to escape inevitable scuffing (and the slow grind of gunk, more than time), so unless you’re fastidious, keeping it all pristine will be a challenge. The level of wear will rely on how often you taxi people around in the Ertiga, but it’s unavoidable.

So, the stick to-up report card on the Suzuki-derived Proton Ertiga returns a bit of a mixed bag of final results. There’s surely quite a lot of guarantee, but there are also shortcomings. Even though a day’s worth of driving does not truly reflect how it will shape up for most buyers more than the extended haul, there are some pressing points that look like they will unquestionably rear up.

The Ertiga is in its element approached in an urban context, as a individuals mover for city use, and if you are not in a hurry. Regardless of the shadow cast more than it by the Alza, it’s versatile adequate for what it is, certainly for the automaker in plugging a slot in a segment it previously had nothing at all in, but no matter whether the lack of pull and refinement when pushed will be an issue down the line will rely on the expectations purchasers have of it.

Paul Tan&#039s Automotive News

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