Test Drive: Suzuki Ciaz

When someone says car, nine times out of ten, the image of a sedan will pop into your head, and for good reason. The sedan’s size, comfort, and performance are all things people appreciate. It’s a curious thing then, that Suzuki, one of the largest manufacturers of things on wheels, has just released their first sedan in the Ciaz. Will their expertise in the world of small cars translate into larger vehicles as well? We got to give it a spin to try and find out.

DESIGN 4.0 / 5.0

The Ciaz has subdued styling that isn’t flashy, or overly aggressive. It is simple, with classical lines, and the slightest of accents here and there to separate it from the crowd, but nothing outlandish or over the top. As you make your way from the Suzuki emblem on the front grille, along the car’s low-slung profile, and around to the back, you get the idea that it’s a little longer than other cars in its class. Looking at the Ciaz from the back though, and it’s like a different car altogether. Like a coy lady who knows her assets, this car knows what’s hot about it and keeps it hidden until you think you’ve gotten it figured out. More than once, I caught friends and strangers checking out the rear end of Suzuki’s city car. Beautifully angled lights, a raised tail, and tight lines all call attention to the back end of the Ciaz—if ever this car had a photogenic side, it’s when you’re following it.
Inside, the Ciaz exudes quiet elegance. The top-of-the-line model which we tested has an abundance of leather—things you’re in contact with most, such as seats and the steering wheel are clad in it, lending to the premium feel of the vehicle. To further this sense of luxury, the inside is exceptionally roomy, with legroom aplenty for front and rear passenger alike. Once you get inside the car, it feels like a personal assistant and body guard are about to get in next.

The dash is a classy combination of black with silver accents, which carries over to the steering wheel and its audio controls, the center console, and shifter. I could (and did) sit in the driver’s seat and appreciate it all day.

HARDWARE 4.0 / 5.0

The Ciaz is powered by Suzuki’s tried-and-tested 1.4L, 4-cylinder, 16 valve engine, mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. Suzuki knows how to do small engines right, and the one in the Ciaz is no exception. It gives you 92 HP at 6,000 rpm, and 130 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Safety features also abound. You have front airbags, electronic brakeforce distribution, and ABS, as well as rear parking sensors. Creature comforts include rear A/C vents, which is always a welcome addition, Bluetooth and Aux-in connectivity, and a keyless push-to-start system. The icing on the cake is an eight-inch Android-powered head unit. It’s basically an Android tablet that you use to run the entertainment system in the car. As such, you can install apps such as Waze, YouTube, Spotify, and practically anything else you want, as long as it’s on the Google Play Store. Your inner nerd will be pleased.

USER EXPERIENCE 4.0 / 5.0

I have to say, I don’t look for a whole lot in my cars, but I am a stickler for details. The Ciaz sees that, and raises it. Firstly, there’s the leather. Who doesn’t appreciate the feel of a leather steering wheel? It almost made me want to hit traffic on the way to work. That feeling was furthered by the excellent Android-powered entertainment system. While it doesn’t have its own data, running a hotspot on my phone enabled me to run all the driving apps I need, right on the screen, without having to take my phone out of my bag, only to drop on the floor. I could then very easily control functions through the screen, or the convenient controls right on the steering wheel with no additional hassle.

The Ciaz handles like a dream. Steering is light, without being floaty. You get just enough feedback to feel connected to it, without it being tiring. It’s also very peppy. The engine and transmission are both on point—even with the meager power produced by the 1.4L engine, at no point was I left wanting for more go. Zipping along, quickly accelerating to overtake, or shooting into position in traffic were no trouble at all, and at times, it felt like I was driving a tiny little hatch.

Comfort levels are also a lot higher than a lot of the cars I’ve been in lately. It’s not floaty, or stiff, but the suspension smooths out our rough roads very nicely. The cabin is also noticeably quiet, which is great for sleepy passengers, and just a little detrimental to a sleepy driver. Do feel free to put on some music so you don’t zone out. It was so comfortable, one of the days I was stuck in traffic for about four hours, I didn’t even mind. I just put a few videos on YouTube (ones that I could listen to, learn from, and enjoy, without having to see the screen), turned the air up, and waited. It’s hard to explain just how comfortable a little extra room, and a quiet interior is, but there you are.

The extra room extends into the trunk. As part of a challenge during the media drive of the Ciaz, I had a picture of myself setting up my mobile office in the trunk of the car, and doing so quite comfortably. I see no trouble loading the car full of passengers, and having all their luggage fit into the trunk.

Being a small engine with a great transmission, I was able to consistently get more than 10 km/l in Metro Manila traffic, which for the level of comfort, and zippiness of the engine, is really quite remarkable.

The Ciaz isn’t without a few niggles though. For some reason, I felt that the windshield was a little smaller than I was accustomed, and there were times I felt my view was slightly obstructed. It can take a little getting used to, so maybe spend a little time in the driver’s seat to see how you feel about it. The head unit, while being an awesome Android-powered affair, also does take a little time to start up.

VALUE 5.0 / 5.0

At PHP 888,000 for the highest-spec’d model, this is a steal. It has features that aren’t available in cars more expensive than it, and Suzuki’s mastery of the small engine has allowed them to keep the displacement low and efficient, while having a large, comfortable cabin. It’s an amazing car, and one worthy for your hard-earned cash.

What’s Hot:

  • Premium features all around
  • Roomy
  • Fuel-efficient, without sacrificing performance

What’s Not:

  • Small view through windscreen
  • Head unit takes a while to boot

Bottomline:

Suzuki might just have come up with my favorite city car to date.

 

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE June 2016 issue
Words and photos by Ren Alcantara

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