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A worthy contender

2016 Suzuki Ciaz GLX

GLX 1When it comes to sub-compact cars, the Honda City and Toyota Vios are typically top of mind. But there’s one contender that’s begging for your attention, and it properly deserves it.

Suzuki is no stranger to small cars, having manufactured some of the best in the industry, and while the Ciaz would hardly be considered small by today’s standards, Suzuki’s attention to detail and excellent build quality have translated nicely to the sub-compact.

 

Subtly stylish

The Ciaz isn’t one of the flashier cars in the segment, but remains subtly handsome in its own way. Instead of following the trend of heavily stylized headlamps and aggressive front grilles, the Ciaz presents a pleasant, more mature fascia that emphasizes sophistication over flamboyance. Its well-proportioned side profile comes together with a slick rear end, complemented by angular, wrap-around taillights. It could be said however that Suzuki played the conservative approach a little too well when it came to the wheels, as the Ciaz’s looks would have improved tremendously with more modern looking rims.

 

Impressive insideGLX 3

Inside, splashes of Suzuki’s attention to fit and finish shine through. Everything looks and feels solid, with the leather-wrapped steering wheel adding a nice touch to the cleanly laid-out interior. The seats are leather as well, and are one of the more ergonomically impressive seats in the segment. Offering acceptable levels of side and thigh support, they also provide the driver with a commanding view of the road.

The instrument cluster, while clear and easy to read, is not as well lit as it could be, and I’d often find myself looking for ways to increase the backlight.

One shining aspect of the Ciaz is its sizeable touchscreen infotainment system. It’s pretty much an Android tablet (running Android OS version 4.4) with a GPS system built into the car, and with it comes all the possibilities an Android tablet brings. Log in to your Google account, set your phone as a mobile hotspot for data, and you’ll instantly have hands-free access to all your favorite apps such as Spotify, Waze, Google Maps, or any video or music player you fancy. If it’s on the Google Play Store, it can be installed to the head unit. This kind of accessibility and function rates it as one of the most appealing head units of any car in this price point, and the Ciaz’s six speakers and steering wheel controls for audio and communications cement it as one of the best infotainment systems in the segment.

Another key aspect to the Ciaz’s appeal is its spacious rear legroom; perhaps something carried over from being based on the Ertiga platform. Passengers seated at the back are treated to generous amounts space, both for legs and shoulders, which makes long-distance drives infinitely more tolerable. Unfortunately, the extra leg room does sacrifice trunk space a bit. You’ll be able to fit around three medium-sized bags in there, but that’s about it. Flexibility is also limited as the rear seats don’t fold in.

GLX 2

Peppy performance

The Ciaz is powered by Suzuki’s K14B engine that outputs 92 hp and 130 Nm, providing adequate push for its lighter frame.  It’s perfectly fine for city driving, but its limits become apparent during the rare instances when you’ll have to accelerate to overtake at speeds that exceed 100 km/h. Its gear ratios are short for the first three gears, making it perfect for zipping around the city. Fuel economy is average, but well within acceptable ranges of 9.5-10.5 kilometers per liter on mixed highway and city driving. Its handling also finds itself in the median — it’s not as agile as a sportier sub-compact, but it doesn’t wallow either; and this comes together to provide a comfortable, quiet ride with the car easily absorbing tears and bumps in the road.

It’s a shame the Ciaz isn’t as popular as its rivals from Toyota and Honda, or even Mazda, as it offers excellent value for money at P888,000. It feels extremely well-put together, and is another testament of Suzuki’s reputation in manufacturing excellent small cars. If you’re in the market for a sub-compact, do yourself a favor and include the Ciaz to your shortlist, as I would definitely add it to mine.