Proton’s first compact MPV EEV is actually a Suzuki

The launch of the Ertiga yesterday completes all new models that Malaysia’s national carmaker, Proton, had planned for 2016. The Proton Ertiga is available in three variants – the Executive (Manual), Executive (Auto) and Executive Plus (Auto), with prices from RM58,800 to RM64,800.

If you are a frequent traveller to Indonesia, the Phillipines or India, the new Ertiga might be incredibly familiar to you. The Proton Ertiga is essentially a rebadged Suzuki Ertiga, and clearly Proton had very little say as not much of the original – or even its name – has been changed. A stretched and raised Suzuki Swift platform with the same 1.4-litre K14B DOHC VVT engine underpins the MPV.

Ertiga is the homophone of R3 (in the Malay language) and refers to the vehicle’s three-row seating configuration. Although it could seat seven, the middle ‘seat’ in the middle row is narrow (but could still accommodate a slender person, we think) and doesn’t have a seat belt, so technically it is a six-seater. But knowing the way Malaysian drivers’ roll, that’s not going to stop them from overextending the vehicle’s capacity. So, a family with a smaller budget could opt for the Ertiga over the larger, more expensive Proton Exora.

One wonders why Proton would choose to rebadge the Suzuki model, with so little of it changed, assemble it (at Proton’s underutilised Tanjung Malim plant) from CKD packs from Suzuki’s Indonesian plant, and use only 15% local content (although Proton says it plans to increase that percentage).

For one, the Ertiga qualifies as an EEV, the Malaysian automaker’s first. The manufacturer claims that at a constant speed of 90 km/h, fuel consumption of the manual variant is only 5.7 l/100km while the automatic one only goes through 6.0 l/100km, just only meeting the criteria for B-segment EEV vehicles. Under the Malaysian National Automotive Policy 2014, EEV models receive customised incentives, which includes excise and import duty exemptions. And with the original Suzuki Ertiga receiving fairly good reviews, why reinvent the wheel, really?

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