Simply when many automakers are giving up on diesel, Maruti Suzuki has bucked the pattern and launched an all-new, in-house-developed 1.5 diesel motor below the bonnet of the Ciaz. Now, why on God’s not-so-green earth would India’s main auto firm danger investing in diesel powertrains, at a time when the long run for them appears bleak? Subsequent 12 months’s stringent BS-VI emission laws threaten to kill small-capacity diesel engines, together with the trusty Fiat-sourced 1.three Multijet diesel that has powered thousands and thousands of Marutis for over a decade.
Nonetheless, for the market chief to not have a diesel mannequin in its portfolio is a better danger. Diesel vehicles account for round 30 p.c of all Maruti Suzuki gross sales, and even when that determine is ready to fall publish April 2020, on account of expensive BS-VI that may push diesel automotive costs sharply north, there’ll nonetheless be substantial demand for them, particularly diesel SUVs. However, for a way lengthy? Maruti Suzuki doesn’t but have the reply to that worrying query, however it’s taking no probabilities – even when it meant coming actually late to the diesel social gathering.
Little question, Maruti’s timing might have been higher. This engine has been a very long time coming and there have been even rumours of it being shelved altogether, on account of an unsure future for diesels and excessive growth prices (to satisfy BS-VI laws) that threatened its viability. However, as talked about earlier, the prospect of getting no diesel mannequin in any respect, after the discontinuation of the ever-present Fiat 1.three diesel, was giving Maruti Suzuki sleepless nights.
Suzuki’s survival is determined by the excessive stakes Indian market the place it can not afford to go away any of its core segments vacant. This is the reason the Japanese automaker, regardless of no in-house diesel experience in any respect, took the plunge for the primary time, in its 80-plus years of historical past, to develop a diesel engine household fully by itself.
It was a steep studying curve that had a number of challenges alongside the way in which, particularly in reaching the specified ranges of refinement. This delayed the launch of the engine by over a 12 months, however it’s lastly right here. So, is it well worth the wait? Or is it too little too late?
What’s the new 1.5-litre diesel engine about?
The place to begin for the E15A, in-line, four-cylinder diesel engine wasn’t precisely a clear sheet of paper, however the Celerio’s E08A 793cc two-cylinder diesel, with which it shares the same structure, was a very good place to start. This new engine has the identical 77.0mm bore and is actually two Celerio diesels joined collectively however down scaled right down to 1,498cc (by lowering the stroke from 85.1mm to 80.4mm) to avail of the decrease tax advantages supplied to diesel vehicles with an engine cubic capability below 1,500cc.
The E15A additionally will get an aluminium cylinder block with cast-iron sleeves and is, therefore, a lot lighter than the 1.three Multijet’s cast-iron block.
Extra importantly, this new engine advantages from the laborious classes Suzuki realized while growing the Celerio’s underwhelming two-cylinder unit, which was additionally the corporate’s first impartial shot at a diesel engine.
Maruti says this engine is virtually all-new, with a stiffer engine block, a redesigned combustion chamber, revised valve gear, new consumption and exhaust manifolds and even a dual-mass flywheel.
Nonetheless, I have to admit, I used to be fairly sceptical about Suzuki’s newest diesel effort, given the corporate’s observe document first time spherical. The Celerio diesel flopped as a result of it was noisy, underpowered and something however a pleasure to drive.
However the second I fired up the 1.5 diesel, any misgivings I had shortly disappeared. Actually, I used to be totally blown away with how refined this motor is; it’s partly as a result of my expectations had been set low and likewise as a result of there isn’t any doubt that this all-new Suzuki diesel is correct up there with the very best at school, on the subject of NVH. It’s impressively quiet at idle, and once you rev it laborious, you do comprehend it’s a diesel, however noise ranges enhance in a subdued form of approach. There’s none of that annoying diesel clatter of the 1.three Multijet or the gruffness of the VW 1.5 diesels, and, fairly actually, I’d price this engine on par with the Verna’s 1.6 diesel, on the subject of refinement. Actually, once you’re cruising, the engine sound is so low that it’s drowned out by street noise, which mockingly exposes the Ciaz’s lack of underbody insulation.
So, this time spherical, how did Suzuki handle to develop such a remarkably refined engine, one thing which even Honda couldn’t do? Aside from the same old measures that contain numerous sound-deadening materials, optimised engine mounts and consumption manifolds, Suzuki had two methods up its sleeve. Firstly, as talked about earlier, this motor will get a dual-mass flywheel, which is a really efficient (however expensive) option to dampen engine vibrations. Sure, a dual-mass flywheel is dear, and it took a very long time to combine it between the engine and gearbox (the primary motive for the delay), however it’s clearly been well worth the effort and cash.
The second secret is a low compression ratio of 15.9:1, which is far beneath the norm of round 17-18:1.
Decreasing the compression ratio results in smoother and progressive combustion, which has a constructive affect on noise ranges. One other profit is that combustion temperatures are decrease, leading to decrease NOx ranges. This leads me to the engine’s emission management techniques, which presently meets BS-IV requirements however could be simply upgraded to BS-VI norms as soon as the gasoline is prepared.
What’s the new Ciaz 1.5 diesel prefer to drive?
On paper, this mounted geometry turbo engine is the least highly effective 1.5 diesel in its phase, growing a fairly modest 95hp. Nonetheless, it makes up with a wholesome torque output of 225Nm – not fairly the class-best determine however, given the truth that, at 1,125kg, the brand new diesel Ciaz is the lightest automotive in its phase (a very good 20kg lighter than even its Fiat-powered predecessor), its adequate to provide this sedan adequate oomph.
First impressions are that efficiency is greater than ample and energy supply is much extra progressive than the peaky 1.three Multijet. Actually, you do miss the punchy mid-range, which is extra linear within the new engine. The shocker is the sturdy prime finish and the way free-revving this engine is, similar to the Multijet. When most different 1.5 diesels are working out of breath round four,000rpm, the Suzuki diesel will get a second wind and comfortably sails previous 5,000rpm. It will possibly rev on to a really un-diesel-like 5,200rpm, although energy tails off quickly at this level. What’s genuinely spectacular is the smoothness all through the rev vary.
Sadly, the E15A’s enthusiastic prime finish isn’t complemented by a robust backside finish. Although turbo lag isn’t as pronounced as within the Multijet-powered Ciaz, the brand new engine feels fairly sluggish at low revs. It’s all however lifeless beneath 1,500rpm and you should cross 2,000rpm for the engine to begin waking up. A giant motive for the fairly tepid low-end grunt is the comparatively excessive gearing. The ratios of the 6-speed gearbox are too unfold out, and the hole between the second and third gear ratios is especially extensive. Consequently, third gear is extraordinarily tall and that blunts pulling energy. Shorter general gearing would have made the Ciaz extra responsive at low speeds, however it might have come at the price of gasoline effectivity, one thing Maruti can be loath to sacrifice. Not surprisingly, the 1.5 diesel has the best-in-class fuel-efficiency determine (below normal situations) of 26.82kpl.
One small factor I did discover is that the engine has gentle flat spots in its energy supply, someplace low down within the rev vary, which means that engine calibration for this brand-new powertrain remains to be a piece in progress.
The 6-speed gearbox comes from the Suzuki components bin however is all-new for India, making its debut on the Ciaz. There’s little question that future Maruti fashions utilizing the 1.5 diesel may even get this transmission. It’s slick to make use of, pretty correct to fit and is complemented by a clutch that’s mild and progressive. Like with the engine, Maruti is not depending on Fiat for the gearbox both, which is able to now be manufactured in-house.
Aside from the brand new engine, there are not any modifications to the Ciaz, which suggests you get the identical spacious and ethereal cabin, a decently lengthy tools checklist and an opulent journey. The steering has no really feel to talk off, particularly across the straight-ahead place and reminds you that the Ciaz shouldn’t be a automotive for lovers. However then few diesels are.
Ought to I purchase one?
Maruti has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the brand new 1.5 diesel Ciaz, and it has turned out to be much better than anticipated, contemplating Suzuki’s lack of expertise with diesel expertise. Priced at Rs 9.97 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the beginning Delta variant, the 1.5 diesel is simply Rs 17,000 greater than the 1.three Multijet variant, which ultimately might be phased out.
The brand new engine is remarkably refined, has adequate punch and lives as much as Maruti’s custom of providing the best-in-class gasoline effectivity. The 1.5 diesel Ciaz feels extra polished and takes the battle to its arch-rival’s doorstep – the Honda Metropolis.
Extra importantly, the brand new 1.5 diesel comes at a time when a number of rival mid-size sedans gained’t have a diesel possibility subsequent 12 months. Perhaps Maruti’s timing wasn’t so unhealthy in any case.