Maruti Suzuki invests Rs 160 crore in new 1.5L petrol engine, Ciaz sales see uptick   

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 01 Oct 2018


Development of new 1.5L engine was led by Suzuki’s R&D team in Japan. Maruti Suzuki has localised 96% of the components with a few electrical sensors and Li-ion battery sourced from Toshiba.

After facing heat from fierce competition in the form of the Honda City and the Hyundai Verna, the country’s leading carmaker Maruti Suzuki has finally breathed a sigh of relief with the facelift version of its premium midsize Ciaz sedan giving an uptick to the model’s sales.

In September 2018, the Ciaz sold a total of 6,246 units, growing a notable 11.5 percent on a year-on-year basis (September 2017: 5,603 units). And in August 2018, it sold 7,002 units, up 8.4 percent  (August 2017: 6,457), 

Launched in October 2014, the Ciaz has till now sold a total of 233,958 units and sees its top-end trim contributing 41 percent to its overall sales.

In September 2018, the Ciaz sold a total of 6,246 units, growing a notable 11.5 percent on a year-on-year basis.

While the sedan had a good run initially, Maruti had been losing a lot of the Ciaz’s sales to the City facelift (January 2017) and more so to the second-generation Verna (August 2017), with the most affordable prospect in the segment immediately witnessing a 14 percent drop in sales with 5,603 units sold in September 2017 (September 2016: 6,544), after the launch of the Verna in August.

The pre-facelift Ciaz's sales had been a cause of concern for Maruti, with the numbers on a declining trajectory – overall volumes of 41,148 units between September 2017 and July 2018, recorded a sharp dip of 33 percent (September 2016-July 2017: 61,457).

No replacement for displacement
Clearly, given the segment's shifting trend towards petrol and Maruti falling short of the competition’s bigger and more powerful 1.5-litre (Honda City, 118bhp) and 1.6-litre (Hyundai Verna, 121bhp) offerings, it felt the need to update the Ciaz with a potent power plant and revive its dwindling sales.

The company finally updated the Ciaz in August, giving it a host of styling tweaks, and more importantly, a newly developed bigger 1.5-litre petrol motor, as against the 1.4-litre 92bhp K14B unit doing duty on the outgoing model.

The updated Ciaz now sees a completely redesigned front fascia with a new grille, which boasts a diamond-studded design and a chrome lip which flows into the revised headlamps on either side. The company has gone ahead to offer LED projector headlamps on the facelifted Ciaz, which are being locally sourced from Lumax in India and also offer a seamless LED DRL strip on their lower end.

On the inside, the refreshed Ciaz now sees birch blonde wood ornamentation, which is formed by plastic injection moulding and runs across the top portion of the dashboard. The cabin is further accentuated by brushed aluminium highlights on the AC vents and the door pads, with the overall beige upholstery theme enhancing the sense of roominess. The car gets a new 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display in its speedometer console, as well as cruise control, which has been added as the new feature for convenience.

Uprated engine components
The new 1.5-litre engine (K15B) on the updated Ciaz now offers respectable numbers, with the power topping at 105bhp (+14%) and torque scaling up to reach 138Nm (+6%). The engine, however, sees its fundamentals remaining in the 1,373cc unit with the company increasing the bore and the stroke length of the cylinders to up the displacement to 1,462cc. As a result, all engine internals including the bigger pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, as well as the, intake and exhaust ports are completely new.

The company has also been able to enhance the fuel efficiency of the motor by introducing Suzuki's Smart Hybrid Vehicle System (SHVS), which essentially is a mild-hybrid unit, and now also debuts on the company's petrol offerings in India while being there on the diesel for a while.

The SHVS comes equipped with an integrated starter generator (ISG), which offers idle start-stop functionality, as well as replaces the alternator with a starter generator. The system helps cut down on the engine power to the starter-generator during acceleration by recuperating energy from the brakes during braking, in order to charge the battery, and alongside also shuts off the engine at idle, thus, helping save fuel. 

In the Ciaz, however, Maruti has introduced the SHVS in a dual-battery form, where there is an additional Li-ion battery in place to store the energy regenerated from the brakes and to supply it to the ISG’s generator motor to assist the engine in power supply during hard acceleration. The company claims an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency figure of 21.56kpl (+4%) for the five-speed manual and 20.28kpl (+ 6%) for the four-speed torque converter automatic gearbox on offer as an option. 

Led in development by its parent Suzuki’s R&D team in Japan, the new 1.5-litre engine has been specifically brought up for the Indian market at a total project cost of Rs 160 crore, where Maruti Suzuki has localised 96 percent of the components with a few electrical sensors and the Li-ion battery being sourced from Toshiba in Japan. The company is even looking at localising the battery once the Suzuki-Toshiba-Denso battery JV bears fruit in India.