Suzuki’s Ciaz masquerade
Is the Suzuki Ciaz a compact car masquerading as a subcompact sedan?
That question pops up since the Ciaz has the dimensions and most of the gizmos of a compact, but the retail price of a subcompact.
Launched by Suzuki Philippines last April to replace the SX4 sedan, the Ciaz (acronym for “City from A to Z”) is poised to grab market share from entrenched subcompacts like the Honda City, Toyota Vios and Kia Rio.
Since its intro last year, the Ciaz has been frequently compared to the City as its sides and taillights look similar to those of Honda’s best-selling model.
Comparisons with the Honda City aside, the Ciaz has caught the attention of first-time car buyers because of its low retail price.
Three variants of the Ciaz, all gasoline-fed, front-wheel drive vehicles, are available: the GL with 5-speed manual transmission (M/T) P738,000; the GL with 4-speed automatic transmission (A/T) P773,000 and the GLX with 4A/T, P888,000. The GLX sports 16-inch alloy wheels while the other variants have 15” rims.
Compare the suggested retail price (SRP) of the top-of-the-line Ciaz GLX to the top-of the line Honda City VX+ Navi CVT (P998,000), the Toyota Vios G A/T (P902,000), and the top-end Kia Rio 1.4 EX A/T HB (P895,000).
Compared to these rivals, the Ciaz has the longest wheelbase (2,650 mm), overall length (4,490 mm) and biggest overall width (1,730 mm).
The larger dimensions translate into spacious rear seat legroom, knee room, headroom and shoulder span, all enhanced by the Ciaz’s bigger door cutting.
Even when the front seats are pushed back to the max rearward position, ample knee room remains for the rear seat occupants.
Being bigger, the Ciaz has a deep trunk that offers 495 liters of cargo capacity. The trunk lid opens wide, making it easy for golfers to throw a golf bag inside.
Moreover, the Ciaz GLX contains all the tech and toys that its top-of-the-line subcompact competitors have: leather seats, proximity keyless entry, start/stop pushbutton, power folding side mirrors, Android OS audio unit with touchscreen, navigation system and six speakers, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, preloaded apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Facebook and Waze, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio and mobile phone controls, automatic climate control plus center armrests front and rear.
On the other hand, the Ciaz GLX does not have a reverse camera or rear parking sensors and the headrests on the rear seat are fixed, not adjustable.
Sensible and bright
The exterior styling of the Ciaz won’t turn heads or win an award for aesthetics, but it is sensible, inoffensive and brightened by a lot of chrome: a four-slat chrome grille with Suzuki’s “S” badge at the center, internal garnish in the swept-back headlamps, chrome garnish on the windows and door handles and a slim chrome slat connecting the taillights.
The Ciaz is powered by the same 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve engine with VVT (variable valve timing) that drives the Ertiga, Suzuki’s AUV, and produces 92 hp and 130 Nm max torque.
In the GLX, the engine is mated to a 4-speed A/T. It seems logical for Suzuki to equip the Ciaz with a 4-speed A/T instead of a 6-speed one to keep the car’s retail price low.
The 4A/T’s limitations do not seem to affect the engine’s perky acceleration and fuel efficiency.
While the Ciaz is by no means a sports sedan or fun to drive, it nevertheless retains a bit of the sporty, can-do attitude characteristic of all Suzuki cars.
With its electric power steering, the Ciaz GLX was pleasant and easy to drive on the open expressway at speeds exceeding 120 kph as well as in slow, bumper-to-bumper city traffic.
Steady and composed
The Ciaz does not have the solidly built feeling of more upmarket brands, but it remains steady and composed whatever the speed.
The structure does not rattle or squeak traversing rough surfaces and the car handles corners with adequate aplomb.
The suspension consists of MacPherson strut in front and torsion beam at the rear with coil springs fore and aft.
Other features: ventilated disc brakes in front, drums at the rear, dual airbags in front, anti-lock brakes with EBD, childproof rear door locks, immobilizer, defogger and side impact beams.
But what really sells the Ciaz is its fuel economy. In the 2016 Department of Energy-Petron 230-kilometer Euro 4 Fuel Economy Run, the Ciaz GL M/T scored the best fuel rating for a sedan, gasoline category, by getting up to 27.94 kilometers per liter in controlled highway driving conditions.
Summing up, the Suzuki Ciaz—whether it is a compact car masquerading as a subcompact or vice versa—offers substantial value for money because of its frugal fuel-sipping engine, outstandingly roomy cabin, high-tech kit and extremely affordable price.
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