The Ritz is another small car from Maruti launched in 2009. It is based on the Swift and is developed as a global car by Suzuki. In India it comes with the competent and modern K-12 series petrol engine and the 1.3CRDi engine sourced from Fiat. It will compete against the Ford Figo, GM Beat, Hyundai i20 and Fiat Grande Punto
2010 Maruti-Suzuki Ritz
India’s biggest autimobile manufacturer has got it right again with the Ritz
We’ve lost count of the number of cars that Maruti Suzuki has in the small car segment. The Ritz is probably number nine. Developed as a global car by Suzuki, the Maruti Suzuki Ritz was launched in 2009. Globally sold as the Suzuki Splash and also as the Vauxhall Agila, in India it has been positioned between the Wagon R and the Swift (the new Swift will be launched in August or September of 2011). With pricing starting form Rs4,13,130 to Rs4,70,769 for the petrol and Rs4,93,337 to Rs5,48,498 for the diesel variant ex-showroom New Delhi, it remains a strong contender despite new launches.
Sure the likes of Aston Martin, Maserati, Jaguar so on and so forth are desirable brands and so are their cars. And why shouldn’t they be aspirational, rather they better be since you’re paying through your nose. But here’s the thing. Small cars can be desirable as well. And no one knows that better than Maruti Suzuki. The company is after all the best in the world in making small cars and if I may add, make good small cars. And hopefully along the way they hope to make their small cars aspirational. It’s a tough ask but it is possible, take the Swift for example.
It’s important for manufacturers in the small car market of having their cars seen as aspirational. After all the lions share of all cars sold is in this segment. The brand positioning and advertising of the Ritz suggests that. And from what the name suggests, it is meant to convey an upmarket image; that of elegance of style.
Stylish you may say it is to an extent. First thing you notice is the tall-boy proportions but the height is well disguised by the pulled back roof, large smart headlamps, flared wheel arches but the part that we like the most is the rear with the boomerang shaped tail lamps. Other good design elements are the steeply raked windscreen, tipping forward stance and the rising beltline. The Ritz is the company’s sixth global car and in India it is vying for supremacy in an already crowded small car segment. The cutthroat completion in this segment requires cars to be distinctly styled and the Ritz delivers on that front.
The interiors are well designed, the petrol variants get blue inserts on the dashboard and doors, with the same colour used for the seat fabric. The silver surrounds of the air-con vents and the central console with the incorporated gear lever make for impressive interiors. There are some nice touches like the large white coloured speedo and the tachometer which is mounted on the dashboard. The ergonomics are good and while there is a lot of use of plastic, quality is an improvement from previous Maruti Suzuki cars.
The tall-boy design translates into a high driving position which is good for city driving and also lends an airy feel to the cabin. There is sufficient space for the front and rear seat passengers, knee room by small car standards is generous but interior space is nowhere close to the Tata Indica Vista. The Ritz has a large 236-litre boot which is bigger than the Hyundai i10 and it also has a 60:40 split rear seats.
The top-of the-line ZXi petrol comes loaded with steering mounted controls, front airbags, music system, ABS, and alloy wheels with 185/70- R14 tyres. There is no option for climate control like in the case of the Swift and the diesel version has no ABS.
Engine and performance
This is the area where the Ritz is sure to score over its competitors. When launched the Ritz was equipped with the all new K-series petrol motor. With its all-aluminium twin cam 16-valve design, throttle-by-wire, an offset crankshaft, and lightweight pistons and connecting rods, the engine is smooth with almost Honda like refinement.
Making use of the tax benefits the 1.2 litres produces 85PS of power at 6000rpm and 113Nm of torque at 4500rpm. 100kmph is reached in around 14seconds which makes the Ritz faster than its main competitor the Hyundai i20. With a claimed top speed of over 150kmph this predominantly city car is well capable of stretching its legs on the highway. The engine is matched to a 5-speed gearbox and it delivers an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 17.7kmpl, the figure is marginally less than the i20.
The diesel unit is the all familiar 1.3CRDi motor used in the Swift, SX4 and many Fiat cars. Though the engine is originally a Fiat unit, Maruti Suzuki has tuned it to be more refined, efficient and responsive. The diesel clatter is minimal, it revs and is enjoyable to use. Generating 75PS@4000rpm and a torque figure of 190Nm@2000 the Ritz reaches 100kmph in a little over 15seconds. This is faster compared to the Fiat Grande Punto, Ford Figo and the GM Beat. The 5-speed gearbox is nice and slick and the Ritz gives an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 21.1kmpl making it one of the most fuel efficient diesel hatches in India.
The ground clearance is high owing to the tall boy dimensions and the damping works well on all road conditions. With McPherson struts upfront and a torsion beam with coil spring at the rear, the slightly stiffer setting feels compliant and composed even when the car is fully loaded.
In the handling department while the Ritz is not as sporty as the Swift’s (shares the same underpinnings) it still manages to strike a good balance without compromising the handling. Body roll exists but the precise steering gives you a sense of control at all speeds
The current favourite is the Ford Figo with its diesel and petrol options. With its attractive pricing, interior space and ride, the Figo is the car from which Ford India has made the maximum money. The GM Beat now comes with a diesel unit and it has to be on your radar. Then there is the i20 from Hyundai which is still selling in large numbers and the Fiat Grande Punto with its awesome styling and ride quality.
The Ritz blends a super combination of a strong petrol and diesel engine, good interior space, practicality and fuel efficiency. We were impressed with the balance achieved between ride and handling which the company isn’t particularly good at. The build quality is better than what we have seen. The Ritz makes a sensible buy without being a boring car to drive.