Text and photos by Aries B. Espinosa

JUST a week after the Jan. 23 introduction of the second-generation Suzuki Ertiga compact MPV, Suzuki Philippines, Inc. mounted a ride-and-drive activity using the new model.
This ride-and-drive program, held on Jan. 31, was primarily meant to highlight the upgrades to the new Ertiga inside and out, as well as underscore the ingenuity behind the details of these upgrades.
The route was comparatively short for a driving activity — just about 130 kilometers to and from the Suzuki Pasig dealership and Tagaytay ridge in Cavite province — but the conditions were enough to stress Suzuki Philippines’ point: Small adjustments and improvements do mean big in the long run.
Still defined as a seven-seat MPV, the new Ertiga’s engine has been upsized from the first-generation model’s K14B 1.4-liter mill to the K15B 1.5-liter gasoline power plant, which churns out more horsepower (103 vs. the previous model’s 94) and torque (138Nm against 130Nm). This bigger-displacement engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission,
The engine upgrade could be seen as a way to manage a longer (by 130 millimeters), wider (by 40 millimeters) and taller (by five millimeters) Ertiga compared to the previous version. That said, the curb weight of the new Ertiga (on full specs) is 1,135 kilograms, which is 45 kilograms lighter than the curb weight of the first-generation model.
Most likely, what the upsized engine can actually compensate for would be the added rear cargo capacity of the new Ertiga, which can accommodate 153 liters (40 liters more than the previous model), for a total cargo space of 803 liters when the second- and third-row seats are folded down.
Kenneth Adia, Suzuki Philippines product supervisor for Automobiles, explained that the new Ertiga innovates further on the design concept put forth by Suzuki chief engineer Satoshi Kasahara when he envisioned “a vehicle that can accommodate seven passengers in a compact dimension, and offers a smart combination of driving performance.”
“The all-new Ertiga presents the strong and elegant qualities of an MPV, with its enhanced styling and comfort,” he added.
For a compact seven-seat MPV, every millimeter of added interior space means more breathing room to enjoy the little things. In the new Ertiga, more room has been accorded passengers on the third-row seats without taking anything away from those sitting on the second-row ones. This was done by adding five millimeters of headroom and 10 millimeters of hip room in the rear. More room in the third row also means that the seats could now be reclined further — by up to 16 degrees.
To make it easier for the rearmost passengers to get in and out of the car, the middle-row seats can now slide 240 millimeters forward. Rear door opening has been widened to 925 millimeters to make passenger access and luggage loading and unloading easier.
Creature comforts have been added for the driver’s and front passenger’s pleasure, too. Ventilated cup holders beneath the center console help prevent cold beverages from getting warm, and the infotainment unit features a 10-inch multimedia touch screen that can be easily seen even from the rearmost seats.
And regardless of where one is seated in the new Ertiga, one can actually feel the car’s improved ride. Credit here goes to Suzuki’s Heartect lightweight design platform, which increases underbody stiffness and reduces noise, vibration and harshness.
Suzuki Philippines director and Automobile division general manager Keiichi Suzuki, who went along for the ride-and-drive event, explained that the new Ertiga was the Japanese car maker’s answer to the “increasingly diversified demands of the local auto industry and needs of end-users.”
He added; “All the upgrades on the new Ertiga are designed to give Filipino riders the confidence to enjoy every adventure, knowing they and their family are safe and comfortable. Beyond making technological improvements on our vehicles, our goal is to always ensure that our customers have an optimum driving experience.”
And like what the group experienced firsthand with the new Ertiga, future owners and passengers of this MPV will appreciate and put to good use the elegant beauty of having more space to themselves.
The new Ertiga is priced starting from P728,000.