The first thing I noticed upon seeing the Ciaz was its front grille and well shaped, clear headlights. I thought it was pretty, well designed and sporty from this angle. Before I go further, the Ciaz is up against some pretty big names in the industry such as the Toyota Vios, Hyundai Accent sedan, maybe the Mirage G4 and it’s closest rival the Honda City. Now going back to the Ciaz….moving along the side of the car things begin to look suspiciously familiar especially towards the rear quarter and rear section of the car. There are new features and some familiar bits and pieces in the Ciaz coming from a car maker who specialize in making small vehicles. In this segment, familiarity if played correctly could be a good thing, or a bad. I’m hoping for something good.
The good stuff starts with the overall design and great packaging. The Ciaz is bigger in every respect from its closest rival and it’s lighter too, thanks to Suzuki’s new modular-shared platform. That means the Ciaz can afford to have all the head room, legroom and elbow room without sacrificing weight which is essential for fuel efficiency and good driving dynamics. Now, if you ever had Suzuki cars in the past from 2012 onwards (Swift 1.4li, Jimny, SX4), you will find that the interior of the Ciaz all too familiar. Although there are unique interior design cues exclusive to the Ciaz like the design of the dashboard, one just can’t let go of that familiarity around the cabin. I sat down behind the steering wheel and I immediately thought, this was like my 2013 Suzuki Swift 1.4li. Familiarity starts with the similarly designed steering wheel (although the 2013 Swift had leather around them) this one being the mid spec was finished in urethane plastic, the switch buttons, power window buttons, gauges and meter clusters and even the automatic gear lever and hand brake. While this may seem to take some positive marks away from the Ciaz, one has to understand that being linked to the Suzuki Swift is a a bad thing. The Swift is a very popular and sporty hatchback that has sold 5 millions times since it was introduced 20 years ago. The familiarity is a good thing for first time Suzuki owners to experience and feel what Suzuki products are like in one single package in the guise of the Ciaz sedan. Another familiar aspect in the Ciaz is its (K14B) 1.4li VVT engine that has also powered the 2013 Suzuki Swift with the same 4 speed A/T. I know you will fret with the idea of only having 4 forward gears (as opposed to current industry standards of having 5 or 6 gears) but this transmission is a match made in heaven as with all the K series engines from Suzuki. Trust me, I have owned 3 Suzuki Swifts from 2008 to current. It maybe old fashioned, but the 4 forward gears manage to use the engine’s available power and torque quite well unlike its CVT counterpart. This engine (though small) has great low end torque useful for stop and go traffic and is equally happy at high revs which is useful when going out of town or overtaking. Another positive aspect of this car which is quite commendable for a compact car is the amount of space in the rear seat. From a visual perspective, I think it even trumps the Altis in terms of rear passenger room. Then there is that huge boot space, something the competition should be worried about. It can probably swallow 2 normal size golf bags with ease.
The downside, well there are quite a few especially if you pick the entry level and the mid-spec level Ciaz. Although cabin materials are solid and are put together well, the quality of the plastics around the cabin is just not up to par in this segment. We also talked about how the Ciaz offers much more interior space at the back seat and how the seat provides ample support for rear passengers, but seat cushion is just a bit too firm for comfort for those long out of town trips. With that in mind, it’s only wise to go for the higher spec Ciaz knowing that you will get so much more than the usual Suzuki’s solid reliablity and trust worthy engineering.
Do you find the Vios and the City too mainstream for your taste and do you want something new, something bigger, a practical daily ride and at the same time fuel efficient? The Ciaz might just be the compact sedan you are looking for. Suzuki may not be known for their sedans, but with close relationship to the Swift and other Suzuki vehicles for active lifestyle, the Ciaz is certainly not far from the family tree.