Although given Maruti Suzuki’s position, no segment should be difficult for it, but it clearly took the brand some time to make a substantial presence in the mid-sized sedan segment. And that would have been impossible had it not been the Ciaz bearing the flag for the numero uno carmaker in the country. Now, after having received a mid-life facelift, the Ciaz is now more focused than ever.
While SUVs continue to be sold on their butch appearance and the hatchbacks can depend largely on practicality, selling sedans isn’t as easy. First they need to be more desirable than anything else on the market (in the segment or the one above), have an insurmountable class, and eventually be only as expensive as the target buyer can afford. The Maruti Ciaz ticks almost all these boxes. And as is clear from its classy styling, it’s made keeping the style-conscious owner in mind. The mix of chrome and black surfaces along with paints like the new deep blue work exceptionally well. The nice alloy wheels leave a lasting impression, too.
Like the exterior, the interior too is unlike any lesser Maruti Suzuki product. Be it the layout or the choice of colours for upholstery, it’s clear that the Ciaz is positioned to tackle the more demanding customer. Like someone who would otherwise go for a Honda City or a Hyundai Verna. The Ciaz’s interior might not offer as many airbags or novelties like ventilated seats or touch-panel controls for the AC, it has a similar look and feel. On the bright side, there’s a lot of space inside, both inside the cabin and in the boot.
The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz clearly enjoys being the only car in the class to be offered with a mild hybrid setup on both petrol and diesel engines. Called SHVS, the system utilises energy more efficiently and aids the car’s fuel economy — and although it’s not been advertised — it’s bound to be a fair bit less harsh on the environment, too. It features brake energy regeneration, idle stop-start, and torque assist function. The engine choices at the moment include a new 103-bhp 1.5-litre petrol and an 88.5-bhp 1.3-litre diesel. The latter is a Fiat-sourced unit with a variable geometry turbo but is bound to be replaced by Maruti’s own 1.5-litre diesel. Both versions are available with a 5-speed gearbox but the petrol can also be specced with a 4-speed AT unit.
With features widely spread across the range, even the base versions make a lot of sense. Prices for the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz (P) start at Rs 8.19 lakh, while the Ciaz (D) is a lakh dearer at Rs 9.19 lakh.
But not only in terms of features, but cars like the Hyundai Verna do also give the Ciaz a hard time with more aggressive pricing. The Hyundai Verna 1.4-litre petrol model retails at Rs 7.89 lakh, ex-showroom. The Verna diesel on the other hand — with a more powerful 1.6-litre engine — is priced at Rs 9.59 lakh. The base Honda City (P) is priced at Rs 8.77 lakh, which isn’t too far from the Ciaz’s position, but at Rs 11.1 lakh, the City (D) is about two lakhs more expensive than the Maruti.