Counting the number of Ertigas out on the road is like counting sheep – you will lose count and it will put you to sleep. There are many reasons behind the home-grown MPV’s popularity. It is incredibly practical, seats seven in comfort, is easy on the wallet, and – the biggest one of all – it gets a company-fitted CNG kit.
The Ertiga with a CNG tank has been the dream team for thousands and a facelift would have only upped its already stellar desirability. So that’s exactly what Maruti did by throwing on a few tweaks on the outside, introducing a whole new ZXi trim that brings with it more equipment, and a new 1.5-litre DualJet petrol engine to gently sip on that CNG.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: exterior
The highway toll operator might not notice the differences on the new Ertiga CNG’s exterior, but look closer and you spot a new chromed grille. Maruti calls it the ‘winged’ design, which does flaunt the chrome in style. Low down, since you now get the Ertiga CNG in ZXi trim, there are fog lamps on offer as well. Over to the side, the CNG now gets alloy wheels, again, courtesy the ZXi trim, but Maruti has avoided upping the tyre size like it did with the XL6, and instead you just get a new look for the 15-inch alloys. A move that might not be a positive in terms of visuals, but will surely aid the overall ride quality. At the rear, you will find a chrome strip trying to add a bit of jazz to an otherwise no-nonsense and clean design.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: interior
Inside the new Ertiga CNG, the first update comes before you open the door. It now gets keyless entry adding to the premium-ness and a push button start/stop as well. The dashboard layout remains unchanged, but the faux wood trim has been refreshed along with the seat upholstery. Still fabric, but in a different shade. Also updated is the infotainment system which gets a touchscreen in place of the archaic 2 DIN system on the older car. The SmartPlay Studio might miss out on a reversing camera, but it still gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The updates continue in the instrument cluster where you now have a colour TFT MID screen that displays the CNG level as well as the CNG-to-fuel ratio, along with the other usual information. The CNG level can also be seen in one of the two fuel dials that are distinctly marked. What we would have also liked on this update are cruise control and ventilated seats lifted from the XL6, since it is likely to be used for long distance journeys.
Passengers in the middle row will be comfortable as the Ertiga has plenty of space and a roomy bench seat. The large and airy windows are a highlight and you can also adjust the recline angle and the position of the seats for legroom. For safety, it comes equipped with four airbags, ABS with EBD, and a fire extinguisher under the middle row seat that is accessible from all three rows.
The last row of the Ertiga CNG is thankfully unaffected by the 60-litre CNG tank. With a little adjustment to the middle row, and slight recline to the back rest, even passengers over six feet can comfortably spend long hours in here. However, what does suffer is the boot capacity. While the CNG tank is well packaged in a way where you get the top half of the boot, it is a struggle to load up any luggage apart from soft bags. For airport runs or large hauling, you will need to drop down the third row like in most seven seaters.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: performance
Powering the updated Ertiga CNG is the new 1.5-litre K15C dualjet petrol engine. In petrol mode, it produces 100hp, but in CNG mode, the output drops to 87hp. That said, you will never feel the deficit on the move. The Ertiga starts off in petrol mode and switches to CNG once the engine reaches ideal temperature. It is also ill-advised to start the car in CNG mode on a regular basis as it can harm the engine in the long run.
Once you set off though, it pulls away with no fuss, and any stigma about the weak performance of a CNG car is diminished. The tuning with the engine is extremely well-calibrated and is something only a company-fitted system can achieve. Off-the-line responses are impressive, and even on part throttle, the Ertiga pulls smoothly. In fact, if you don’t glance at the MID screen, you wouldn’t be able to tell petrol mode from CNG mode.
In terms of outright performance, the Ertiga in CNG mode takes 15.5 secs to go from 0-100kph, and the petrol mode takes 13.9 secs for the same. And while that might sound a lot slower, the in-gear times is what counts in the real world. 20-80kph in third gear is a minor delta with the CNG nudging ahead by 0.6secs, while the split for 40-100kph in fourth gear results in the petrol mode winning by just 0.5secs. So, despite the 13hp drop in power from petrol to CNG, there is no major difference to the way it drives.
What helps its case further is the 5-speed manual gearbox that is perfectly calibrated. The gears are well spaced out and that gives it very good tractability at crawling speeds. You can stay in second all along without having to shuffle between gears and the light and progressive clutch helps with smooth starts without any embarrassing stalls.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: fuel efficiency
By far, the most important aspect of owning a CNG-powered car is its pocket-friendly nature. The 60-litre CNG tank can store between 9-9.5kg of CNG depending on the pressure of the pump. Maruti claims the Ertiga CNG will return 26.11km/kg, but to find out the real figures we conducted an efficiency test with a mix of city and highway driving.
It’s time for some maths – 100.9km of mixed driving later, the car took in 4.52kg of CNG, resulting in an efficiency of 22.32km/kg. And since it can take in around 9kg of gas in total, the CNG range turns out to be just over 200km. This figure will, of course, vary depending on driving style, amount of load and luggage you carry, and, as mentioned, the pressure at the CNG pump. But it is an impressive figure nevertheless.
By this calculation, running cost per kilometre can be estimated to be roughly Rs 3.4 in Mumbai, where the price of CNG is Rs 76/kg. Since the price of CNG in other states varies, the running cost will change as well. What we hope also changes are the painfully long queues at CNG pumps, which, if you’re a first-timer, is bound to be a frustrating experience.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: ride and handling
Having a good ride on a long-distance MPV is crucial and the Ertiga CNG, with its heavier kerb weight (50kg more than the standard car), fares well. With a full load, it won’t pitch and move about as much, but thuds at low speeds; especially with an empty car, it’s a lot more prominent in the cabin. On the highway though, stability over triple digit speeds is impressive and the car sits flat and composed overall. Handling isn’t its forte, so those expecting bustling feedback are in the wrong. It is a people mover with comfort and convenience at the top of its KRA, and by that logic the steering is just the right amount of light to help with parking and three-point turns.
2022 Maruti Ertiga CNG: verdict
Priced between Rs 10.41 lakh-11.54 lakh, the Ertiga is in a segment of its own. No MPV currently gets a company-fitted CNG kit, and that is the biggest trump card and the reason for a long waiting list for the Ertiga CNG. The availability of a higher ZXi trim opens the Ertiga to a wider set of audiences and the updated engine has aided its overall refinement and performance as well. Its core strengths, though, are still very much there with the hugely practical cabin and its pocket-friendly nature. If you’re in the market for a CNG-powered MPV for long hauls, the updated Ertiga CNG is the perfect and your only option.