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Maruti Ritz test drive – review Maruti’s new hatchback.
[Image: suzukiritz_main.jpg]
There are few cars that fit the requirement of Indian hatchback car buyer better than the new Ritz. It has everything on paper that customers in this segment want, space, quality, modern engineering, and a choice of two very appealing engines. But is the new car as good as everyone expects it to be ? Here is an in depth first look.

The Ritz, also known as the Splash in other markets, is a car that’s built on the same platform as the very successful Swift. It has all the modern engineering that made the Swift so successful, as well as large size interiors and a generous dose of style. Unlike the Swift however, the target is not young style conscious owners who enjoy a spirited drive. The Ritz is designed to appeal more as a family hatch back.

You can tell this immediately from the tall proportions and upright stance of the cabin. But Suzuki has lost none of it’s recent appetite for style. The Ritz is a very interesting design that uses a tall two part, almost Audi like, grille and headlamps that are swept back. Big wheel arches are used to give the car a planted stance, the roof dips towards the rear and the car even uses the same wheels and tyres as the Swift. But it’s the boomerang shaped tail lights that will make this car stand out the most.

Under the hood of the petrol version is Maruti’s new K series engine. Called the K12, due to it’s 1200cc capacity, this is a very modern twin overhead camshaft motor that puts out a very strong 85 bhp. The diesel is the same exceptional Fiat 1.3 Multijet, called the DDis here, just like on the Swift.

This car has the best interior seen on a compact Maruti. The two tone dash is well designed, with the subtle grey inserts and an attractive looking central console. Familiar bits include steering and gearlever from the Swift and Dzire with the speedo and pop up tacho similar to that seen on the A-star. There are no cheap plastic bits and seat comfort at the front is very good as well. Legroom at the rear however is enough but not abundant. But this is partially taken care off by the high seat, which means you need less space for your legs. The boot however should have been a bit larger.

Maruti’s new motor is among the best 1.2’s around. Smooth, willing to rev hard and peppy, this motor gives the Ritz wings. You can feel the technology at work under the bonnet as the motor obeys your every command. The Ritz gallops forward to 100 in 13.3 seconds, making it almost as quick as the Swift, despite having a smaller motor. Low engine speed responses are not as good however and this motor needs a few more revs before it wakes up.

This is true of the diesel version as well. It seems like there is more turbo lag here than on the Swift diesel. You need to wait till around 2500 rpm for the power to really come in, but once you are there, the familiar rush of acceleration quickly puts the smile back on your face. 0-100 for the diesel comes up in 14.36 seconds. Still, you need to work the gearbox a bit sometimes in traffic and this gearboxes double syncro shift needs a bit of additional effort.

With it’s modern stiff chassis and well engineered suspension, the Ritz tackles our roads with aplomb. Maruti have raised and softened the suspension on the Ritz more than on the Swift and as a result roads that have been damaged are ridden over in comfort. It won’t ride as well as a Fabia, but the suspension takes the edge off most bad patches and you are seldom upset by a bad road. Straight line stability at speed is also pretty impressive.

Where as the softer Ritz doesn’t feel as enthusiastic too drive as the Swift, and rolls a bit too, it’s leagues better than Maruti’s other tall boy the Wagon R. And while pressing on in the Ritz isn’t as much fun as the Swift, it’s no white knuckle ride either. The steering actually feels more accurate than the Swift.

If you want a Swift with more space, comfort and a more comfortable suspension, this the car for you. It offers strong performance, distinctive style and character and feels like thoroughly modern and capable car. And then it’s a Maruti, so you can expect a very competitive price with it is launched on May 15th. A very accomplished family hatch that will deliver everything a premium hatch should, but with the added practicality of a tall boy profile the Ritz should be the next block buster from Maruti. Problem is which motor do you select, both are really good.
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