When looking for an Asian 4-door, sub-compact sedan, our market has a multitude of competitors. Right off the bat, you could be choosing one of six possible options. You’d have less probability of choosing the right car for you than choosing a correct answer in a multiple choice exam, and that includes having option E – None of the above. However, one car in this segment makes a strong case for itself. Much like college multiple choice tests, sometimes all the answers are sort of right, but, there will always be only one best answer. The Suzuki Ciaz certainly goes for trying to place itself as a potent choice in the sub-compact class.
Look and Feel – 8.5/10
The Ciaz is not an ugly car, but I wouldn’t say it was the most handsome especially with the Ford Fiesta sporting its Aston-ish grill. Its look is of a young gentleman. It has some aggressive features that may not necessarily be backed up by horsepower and heritage but, it still carries itself with a refined air. The best looking part of this sub-compact would be its headlamps. For something that has all that chrome effect, its lines are a reminder of the movie Tron. Now, if only it came in neon blue, the lamps would be mean.
Mentioning the chrome, aside from the internal garnish in the head lamps, there are other chrome effect pieces in the exterior. The window garnish, door handles, and, the grill with the very recognizable Suzuki logo which dominates the front of the car are a few. I’m personally not a fan of brown on cars, but the chocolate color accented by the bright work is a tasteful combination that would be appreciated by anyone with elegant taste.
Interior, Feel and Comfort
Inside, the driver and passengers are in for a treat. The GLX which was tested had a healthy amount of leathery panels, which included the arm rests for both the front and back row. Yes, the back row has an armrest with cup holders tucked away in the middle of the bench. The driver is encouraged to keep his hands on the wheel not just by the audio and Bluetooth call controls, but by the soft touch of the stitched, leather steering wheel. Probably, the only time a driver will have to take his hand of the wheel is to enjoy refreshments as he reaches for one of the two cup holders found in the center console.
The only major aspect of the Ciaz which let us down was having to worry about where rear passengers would place their heads. The Ciaz had very little headroom at the rear seats. However, I will admit that the people present during testing were of above average height so this might not even affect most of our countrymen who would be allowed into the back seat of this car. To add to the discomfort, the fixed headrests on the 2nd row makes for an awkward feeling for something hitting taller passenger’s napes. This, on the bright side, brings us to this car’s party piece, space.
What the Ciaz lacks in headroom it makes up in miles of space. With the front seat adjusted its maximum rearward position, the mammoth testers were able to sit at the back row without knees touching the front seats. These were the same testers whose heads were hitting the roof. Here lies the solution to the headroom problem, it may kill posture during long drives, but scooting forward onto the seat placed hefty bodies in a semi-comfortable position. Passengers also need not worry about luggage taking away all the precious space provided them. The Ciaz features a 495 Liter trunk. I’m not sure how to translate that to something more relatable, but, remember the hefty tester? He fit inside the truck. Sorry I don’t have photos of it.
With all that texture and space, the Ciaz makes for a very comfortable car for four adults. Unfortunately, I do mean four. If you had three slender beings sitting on the back row, I would consider amending that to five. Let’s put it this way. If the driver wanted to be more intimate with someone, they need not do anything other than invite that person to sit in front passenger seat. Automatically, they will be, literally, rubbing elbows over the shared arm-rest. If they happen to look at each other at the same time, they could share some awkward silence as suddenly intrude into each other’s personal space. Or, the driver can take a fast right-hander, and the passenger will automatically be just a few inches away. These are all good things until you find yourself sitting beside your bro.
Driving Experience – 7/10
The good thing is, I don’t think drivers would be inclined to take a lot of corners at a fast pace. Driving the Ciaz wouldn’t be called an endeavor, however, it wouldn’t be associated with words like sporty or fun. Staying true to its mature character, the Ciaz does not encourage, hooning about. With the traditional 4-speed automatic with “overdrive”, there are basically two ways to drive the automatic transmission it has – slow and frugal, or fast and stressful.
During normal operation, with the overdrive on, unless you mash the accelerator pedal to the floor, it will keep the engine revving low and fuel economy high. Unfortunately, doing this will also mean drivers will not get anywhere quickly. For moments when the power of the 92 horses stored under the bonnet is needed, it would be recommended to turn off the overdrive (O/D OFF) which will allow the engine to rev to healthy heights before changing gear. For people who need something between the slow and lumbering and the quick and screaming, flipping the overdrive on and off would be something to get used to. While it doesn’t necessarily defeat the purpose of an automatic, it does require letting one off the wheel to click a button found on the gear leaver.
Aside from the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde driving styles, the two pedals, accelerator and brake, seem to have opposing characteristics. On the one hand the brake pedal feel has very abrupt engagement. One moment you’re slowly arriving at a halt, and the moment additional pressure is placed on the pedal, passengers lurch forward because of a sudden stop. In contrary to this, the accelerator pedal has a very intuitive feel. This level of control helps the driver make small movements possible which is essential in traffic and parking situations.
Technology – 8/10
So far we’ve found that, the Ciaz is a comfortable place to be in and is happy chugging along at a relaxed pace. So since we weren’t getting anywhere fast, Suzuki was very nice to provide us with a good infotainment system. We believe it’s the only subcompact in the price range that features Android Auto. It’s the works. Android users can either mirror devices directly to the integrated 7-inch touchscreen via Mirror view or share your phone’s or mobile hotspot’s Wi-Fi connection and use the infotainment apps. No longer would you need a phone mount as everything could be played via the Jellybean OS. Waze, Spotify, or (though not recommended) YouTube can all be accessed directly from the console.
The toys doesn’t stop there. The Ciaz is coaxed to life via a Start-Stop button. With keyless operation, all you need is the key fob on your person. While driving, you can easily control your music with controls on the steering wheel, as well as pick up and make phone calls. Once parked, side mirrors can be folded with the push of a button. The inside temperature is even monitored via automatic climate control. The only one gadget I would have wanted to see from the factory was a reverse camera to assist with parking backwards. However, this is well forgiven whence cost is considered.
Cost – 9/10
With the Ciaz, you buy the toys mentioned above, a frugal engine and transmission combination), tons of real estate, for a price that sits quite comfortably in the middle of the market.
Ciaz GL Manual Transmission – Php738,000
Ciaz GL Automatic Transmission – Php773,000
Ciaz GLX – Php888,000
One might wonder how frugal the GLX really is. The automatic scored a 22.93 Km/L in the Petron-DOE eco run. However, these are not figures buyers should expect on a daily basis. The fuel economy test result shows us what this car is capable of in an ideal scenario. Now, with all the heartbreaks and disappointments of the real world, actual fuel economy is far from ideal. While I had the Ciaz, I did a lot of driving in traffic, and spirited driving, stopping for photos, and some coasting on highways. During the first couple of days, it got a relatively okay fuel economy of 8.43 Km/L, which was close to what the trip computer indicated. However, by the time I settled down and used the Ciaz as the city runabout it was, we got figures closer to 12 Km/L indicated.
The GLX which was tested comes only as an automatic which would be the better choice between the given variants. Aside from the letter “X”, you’d forego accessories and upgrades that would cost well more than the 115,000 difference in price. I feel that is very much worth it.
With at least 3 other similar sub-compacts in the market with a higher price, there is a great deal of value for what the Suzuki Ciaz GLX is asking for. One way to think of it is, radio, wheels, start – stop button, and leather seats are all things that you may be able to purchase aftermarket. But, legroom and trunk space is something you’ll have to live with after buying in a vehicle. With the Ciaz excelling thin these areas, there is no reason why anyone should pay more than the Php888,000 for a decent, comfortable, fuel-efficient subcompact.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Given everything discussed maybe it’s time for a quick test. What would be the best value for money automatic, gasoline powered, sub-compact in the market?
a) Honda City VX+ Navi CVT – Php998,000
b) Toyota Vios G A/T – Php902,000
c) Suzuki Ciaz GLX A/T – Php888,000
d) Kia Rio A/T – Php895,000
Based on everything we’ve seen, we’d have to say, C is the key.
Horrible pun aside, let’s review why. The Ciaz has the most space for occupants and has a cavern of a trunk. It has elegant looks that wouldn’t make me ashamed of pointing out which car I’m driving in a parking lot. It has a good amount of toys and tech, most notably as the only one in the given options with Android Auto. And lastly, it costs the least. The only factor that lets it down would be the lack of fun factor while driving. However, it’s easily defended by its overall character not being geared towards spirited driving. After everything, the Ciaz just gets an above average of 4 Jacks with a score of 81% in our YugaTech Scoring matrix. If anyone picked anything else from the options, please comment below to defend your answer.