Proton Ertiga - fuel sipper extraordinaire

By RIZAL JOHAN | 20 January 2017

Fuel consumption is important to a lot of car owners because the lower it is then the more money you save and also, you can drive around a lot more before making the visit to the petrol station.

It’s also a matter of frugality especially with your foot on the accelerator.

The smoother and lighter you step on the pedal, the better the consumption.

It’s like the water tap in your house: turning it slightly releases a trickle of water while opening it up full just gushes it out in droves.

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The former was how most of us were driving from Proton’s Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam to Bukit Malawati as members of the media participated in an eco-run challenge to see who drove the most efficiently.

By the time we got to the historical site, driving between 60-80kph, the needle had not moved and we still had a full tank.

Impressed? You bet.

The fuel gauge didn’t even move after that even; we went up atop the hill where the 110-year-old lighthouse is located for a photoshoot and then headed over to the town of Sekinchan, about 27km away, for lunch.

It’s no wonder the Ertiga received Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV)-status.

Following the Ertiga's launch, it is currently being offered in two variants - Executive (5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic) and Executive Plus 4-speed automatic, priced respectively at RM58,800, RM61,800 and RM64,800.

It is powered by the 1.4-litre Suzuki K14B engine with variable valve timing (VVT) that delivers 92hp at 6,000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Yes, the Ertiga is a rebadge of the Suzuki Ertiga which the Japanese marque offered for the Indonesian market.

Officially, the six-seater MPV has a fuel economy (at a constant 90kph) of 5.7-litre/100km for the manual and 6.0-litre/100km for the automatic transmission.

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There are some Malaysians though, with their infinite knowledge of engineering, who will no doubt come to the conclusion that a 1.4 litre engine is simply underpowered to haul an MPV.

That isn’t the case however as we got onto the Ertiga in groups to be ferried up Bukit Malawati and there was no indication at all that the Ertiga struggled or was incapable of going uphill with six people on board.

But I digress ...

Besides sipping fuel, the MPV is spacious and comfortable.

There is plenty of headroom all the way back to the third row.

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However, there isn’t much legroom at the third row and for anybody above 5ft 8in, it’s going to get cramped.

There is a silver lining though, you are not going to sweat it out back there because the 3-speed four-vent ceiling mounted air-conditioner blower in the mid-row is powerful enough to cool down all your occupants.

The third row seats fold 50:50 while the second row is 60:40 and when both are folded you get a very spacious 735 litres of storage space.

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The Ertiga is also well equipped in terms of safety features as it comes standard with two front airbags, reverse sensors, anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution, ISOFIX childseat points and top tethers on second row seats.

The MPV was accorded the 4-star Asean NCAP rating.

The difference between the Executive and Executive Plus is that the latter gets additional equipment such as turn indicators on wing mirrors, front fog lamp trimming, driver seat height adjuster, audio system controls on steering wheel and metallic trimming for interior door release latches.

With all the travelling we did for this outing, the Ertiga is a fuss free car to drive.

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It handles well even though with a relatively high clearance of 185mm.

This was originally designed for the poorly paved and uneven roads in Indonesia.

Oddly enough when we were travelling from Bukit Malawati to Sekinchan, the road was covered with pothole patches and has some of the more extreme undulating surfaces I’ve come across.

And the Ertiga went over it like a charm - of course, you can’t drive through it on full bore but that clearance made all the difference.

Coupled with its firm suspension, it absorbs all the bumps and potholes very well.

After a short visit to the beach in Sekinchan, Pantai Redang, we headed back home using the highways.

For a car that has a high centre of gravity, it handles quite well around bends but it is not advisable to push it like you would a sedan.

The engine does roar when you step on it and it does flood the cabin with noise when you do so but if you are lightfooted, it offers a smooth and pleasant experience.

And since this MPV is marketed for families, you’d want to take it easy anyway.

It will save you a lot of petrol, too.