Maruti Suzuki Ritz or the Swift, Age old question answered

ritz front view

The Ritz has clean front end with a nice integration of the grille and bumper.

Maruti Suzuki has quite a lot of good small cars in the Indian market. They are one of the few manufacturers who understand the budget petrol head in an Indian. For a car to be all about fun, or have a big engine or fat rubber is not needed and Maruti showed that with the first gen Zen, lightweight body and a small nice rev happy 996cc aluminum engine. And the Indians rejoiced with the car for 13 years, with Maruti finally putting the car to rest in 2003.

Until recently the car lived on as the Estilo but that’s in no way a successor to the Zen, a car that rocked the Indian racing scene with tuners taking that engine above 100 bhp. The successor to the Zen came two years later in 2005 when Maruti Suzuki decided to introduce the European Swift here. The car was expected to be a flop, with its impractical design and weak boot space, as all Indians want is a car with a  big boot, interior space to cram all your in laws in and a measly engine that gave 30 kpl. Well ha ha the joke was on the skeptics as the Swift has sold more than one million units here in eight years and still has a waiting period of about a month.

brake light Ritz

The rear of the Maruti Suzuki Ritz is questionable, the boomerang tail lights being the only highlight.

Yes the Swift has a hard ride, its interiors are a bit claustrophobic and the only person having fun will be the one behind the wheel. So you really like the Swift, but you wish it rode a little softer, was a little taller and more practical so that your children don’t hit the roof every time you go over a speed bump. The company also got the answer to that question and that is…… the Maruti Ritz.

After reading this you must be wondering why we’re doing a report on a car that is old news. Well despite the fact that the Ritz has been in the market for several years, it’s still selling strongly and we still get the same question. Ritz or Swift?

So us having been long-term owners of both cars, we will help you get the answer to your question, “Which one should I put my money on, the Swift or the Ritz?“.

Exteriors and Styling

side RItz

The side view of the Maruti Suzuki Ritz, shows the tall boy design and flared wheel arches.

Maruti’s Ritz is the ugly cousin of the Swift, so don’t expect too much from the car in the looks dept. It is a more practical car, so it has a tall boy design with flared wheel arches that house really skinny rubber. Both the Ritz and the Swift are severely small tired in the base variants so some fatter rubber would be nice as soon as you go through the first set of tyres. From the front, the Ritz looks decent with the new grille and fog lamp casings. The trapezoidal all black grille in this car is less on the bling with no chrome at all but looks fine, a subtle chrome boundry would have livened up the front a bit. Headlights are nice and large offering lots of light when driving at night, with the fog lamps providing further illumination. Bonnet is evenly contoured with no bulges, just a simple groove running the sides. The indicators are also integrated into the headlamps, making a nice clean uncluttered front.

ritz looks

The Ritz looks sharp from the front and resembles the Swift, cept for the tall boy design and the raked front wind screen giving it an MPV look.

From the sides too, it looks a bit like the Wagon-R as its shares a similar tall boy design. But it manages to pull of a slightly better job with the front end saving it, a bit. The rear is just okay bordering on ugly, with a weird body/rear bumper attachment, using the flared wheel arches.

ritz rear bumper

The integration of the rear bumper to the car may not suit to everyone’s tastes.

The MPV-like raked front windscreen does its part in making the interiors feel airy. It all looks clean and the bumper integration is nice with no gaps appearing like on the previous gen Swift which had bumpers that were as thick as an onion peel. The problem has been solved to a great extent in the new Swift though. Brake lights are unique with them being boomerang shaped, and a medium height loading lip with an integrated fog light at the bottom. The bold Suzuki emblem and the embedded reflectors on the rear bumper further add some bling to rear.

So the best angle to view the Maruti Ritz is from the front three by fourth angle, which shows of the front more and hides the plain Jane rear end.

Ritz rear

The loading lip of the Ritz is convenient along with the boomerang lights.

Talking about looks, you are better off with the Swift, which was built more for the eye and not for a utilitarian point of view. The subtle curves, the flared wheel arches make the car look sporty, prompting all them wannabe racers to slap on some alloys and fat rubber and other gaudy tinsels. The high set rear windows maybe a little claustrophobic, but a small price to pay since you will be behind the wheel most of the time.

Interiors

dash layout ritz

The dashboard is low set, so it is convenient for shorter drivers.

The Maruti Ritz interior is a nice place to spent time in and the first thing that will catch your eye will be that pop up tachometer which looks like an aftermarket kit. The all white dials are easy to read with a clock and a two trip meters on shown on a digital display with yellow back lighting. Fuel gauge is also electronic in the form of bars, which is annoying for a person used to a more accurate analogue reading, especially when you are nearing empty.

fuel gauge ritz

The digital fuel gauge shows irregular readings and cant be trusted fully.

ritz fuel digital gauge

The fuel gauge us inconsistent with the bars, nothing beats the convenience of a traditional gas needle.

The rev counter though cool to look at is a bit difficult to read when the engine is on full flow, but the white background complements the speedometer and all in all looks classy and sporty. On our review  car, the interiors were colourful, and not an all black theme, with the dashboard having a dull brick-red finish. Upholstery on the door pads are also matching red with designs on it. Plastic quality is also improved from the usual Maruti ones with the AC vents feeling sturdy and good to the touch.

RItz switches

The power window and central locking switches beside the driver side.

The Power window switches are all the same, pieces of plastic that allow you to pull and push them. Gear shifter positioning is also unique with this car, with it being dash mounted for easy access to the driver and the center console AC knobs and temperature controllers all are okay, nothing to write home about. Glove box is deep and offer good storage, there is also a small space to keep your mobile and other odds and ends. If you want more space, there is a secondary storage space above the center console. Door bags also offer enough space with a bottle holder in place too. Thoughtful front quarter-glass makes the front feel roomy and airy, giving a big cabin-like feel.

ritz rear head rests

Headrests are not fold able hence block the rear visibility.

Rear visibility is poor which is further blocked by the headrests which cannot be folded, rear parking sensors would have been really welcome. A useful feature, one that the absent-minded people will like is if you take out the key and open the door without turning off the headlamps or the parking lamps, the car alerts you by beeping continuously. 

seat belt rear ritz

The rear seat belt of the Maruti Suzuki Ritz.

Rear seats are set a bit higher than the Swift, so no claustrophobia effect, also the high roof gives more headroom and an airy feeling to the interiors. Also ingress and egress is also easier on the Maruti Ritz with the tall boy design.

tacho ritz

The popup tacho at night with back lighting looks really cool.

The Swift loses out on that pop up tacho and the cool retro white-faced dials, but the new Swift has a classier dial layout with the rpm meter integrated into the console. Rest of the interior components are more or less shared by the two cars.

Performance

ritz engine ddis

The Fiat sourced diesel engine doing duty in the Ritz.

The strong suit of the Ritz and the Swift are its engines, both the petrol and diesel being equally competent and offer good driveability and outright performance. 1.2K Series petrol engine offers a good mix of performance and average fuel economy. It’s a free revving motor, so it enjoys the frequent trips to the red line giving a nice mechanical whine when you take it to the limit for that quick overtake.

pedal system ritz

The pedals have enough travel and good fell, especially the brake pedal giving good feedback.

Power is distributed more less evenly through the rev band, but it’s a bit jerky in the low revs in first gear. Also in fourth gear at 40 km/h, the K Series mill was able to pull clean without any fuss, so it has enough low down torque too but it took a leisurely 23 secs to reach 100 km/h. The 30-80 km/h timings in third gear were better at around 14.5 secs.

Ritz interior tacho

The pop up tacho is a nice touch livening up the interiors.

Those who have driven the Swift diesel will know its punchy response after the turbo kicks in after 2000 rpm, in the Ritz its more tamer. The turbo is more user-friendly and slowly comes into action above 2000 rpm. Its like the engine has two modes, for crawling through city traffic you can keep it just below the 2000 rpm and if you want a sudden burst of power take it above the rpm.

RItz fuel tank

The fuel tank lid on the Maruti Ritz.

Driveability of the engine is another key factor which translates to lesser gear shifts. The DDis mill takes 12.5 secs to reach from 30 to 80 in third gear and about 15.5 seconds from 40 to 100 in fourth gear. Diesel clatter while idling is prominent and is a bit noisy but it is minimal inside the cabin with the glasses rolled up. The petrol engine is the exact opposite and is almost as silent as a monk while idling, prompting you to crank again as if the engine has cut off.

gear knob ritz

The five speed gearbox is nice and slick, with the gears going into the linkages with minimum effort.

The diesel will crack the ton in under 14.36 secs and the petrol under 13.33 secs. If you cover a lot of mileage in a month and the way petrol is priced in India you will be better off with the 1.3 diesel which gives about 15 kpl in the city and around 19 on the highway. The 1.2 petrol is more engaging to drive and returns around 12 kpl in the city, but it went up to 16.5 in the highways where we could us the tall fifth gear.

speedometer white Ritz

The large speedometer is all white and legible. They resemble the ones on the Mini.

Keep the engine on the boil and you will be rewarded. For the petrol you have to work the gearbox a bit to stay in the power band and stay in the 1500 to 2500 rpm for the turbo whoosh and that ‘push into the seat’ experience in the diesel for effortless driving. Third gear is the best place to be with both engines as it stays in the sweet spot, ready for action.

sound clatter engine

Sound deadening keeps out the engine clatter from inside the cabin.

Ride and handling

Ritz suspension

The suspension set up of the Ritz is softer than the Swift.

The favorite part in a road test for a petrol head, attacking the corners, tires squealing, a quick up shift to keep the engine on the boil, heaven. And when you get tired of all that slot it into fifth soak in the nice ride and just cruise. So is the Ritz all of the above, well it does a pretty good job at both tasks. Ritz has a more comfortable ride with the suspension is set up slightly softer to absorb the bumps, so people sitting at the back have a more pleasant experience except for crawling speeds where there is some bounce and body roll involved.

ritz inside

The interior is nice and roomy in the Ritz.

This hasn’t affected the handling much and the Ritz is one of the best handling tall boy car all thanks to that chassis. Stability at three digit speeds is also confidence inspiring. Steering is also a bit heavy but offers lots of feedback at low and high speeds, but it has a bit of play when cruising at high speeds.

seats front ritz

The front seat is nice and comfy with adjustable headrests, seat angle can also be adjusted.

Rear seat is also a tad higher for a more airier and less cramped feeling. Base versions of the Ritz are severely under tired with 165/80 R14s and that affects the handling part, with some body roll creeping in. A tyre upgrade should sort things out for the better. Maruti engineers have hit the perfect spot in tuning the engines for the Indian conditions and with a ground clearance of 165 mm prevents any ground scraping. A thing for concern would be to watch out for the low lip of the front which can scratch the ground if you don’t take care while negotiating deep pot holes.

ritz view

Maruti Ritz looks the best from the front three fourth angle.

Well need I say anything about the Swift in the twisty parts, it’s a delight and will bring a smile when you take that long curve on the expressway at around 80-90-100, with slight body roll, stable and planted. But mind the potholes and the speed breakers, any small undulations on the road will be felt by all the passengers especially the ones at the rear.

Also brake bite on both cars is sharp, thus making it more confident to ride more aggressively as you have adequate stopping power, no wonder we see many rear ended Swifts/Ritz on the roads.

Summary

ritz front headlight

The headlight is integrated with the turn indicators and parking lights.

So the final verdict, the Ritz gets the thumbs up as well as the Swift. The car has a good set of engines, and a decent chassis that complements the fun to drive characteristics. In spite of having a tall boy design, on road manners are good with controlled body roll and good high-speed manners. The looks are questionable especially that rear with the boomerang shaped tail lights, well you have to sacrifice on some areas. Some of the faults of the Swift have been sort of solved with the Ritz, with more head room at the back and a more supple ride. The turbo kick has also been smoothed. So when choosing between the Swift and the Ritz, its a heart over head matter. The Swift will bring a smile to your face, the Ritz wont lag too much behind in that dept too but like I said listen to your heart and then your wife…sorry head. Take both for a test ride and then makeup your mind  as each individual’s tastes are different.

sound clatter engine

Sound deadening keeps out the engine clatter from inside the cabin.

Other competitors for the Ritz are the Hyundai i20, Ford Figo, Fiat Punto, Tata Vista and the new Hyundai Grand i10 too. The Grand i10 is a very promising package, and if you like driving you can check out the facelifted Fiat Punto Evo and the Ford Figo. Tata’s Vista is a very underrated car and if you are after a diesel hatch then you can check it out as it shares the same diesel engine, the 1.3 Multijet from Fiat. Maruti is planning to release their own diesel engines soon by 2015-16 to keep costs low and reduce their dependency on Fiat. The all new Elite i20 is also out, check out our pricing and first look review of it.

Ownership Notes

Regular maintenance and oil changes will ensure your engine’s life for a long time. Oil is very important especially for the turbo as a component failure will be a very costly replacement and the very soul of the engine will be lost. Brakes also tend to wear a tad bit quickly on the Ritz/Swift with the speeds that this car can easily reach. When sending your car for service, specially say that you don’t need the dashboard polishing, which most of them do and then charge you for it. It makes the dashboard feel slimy and oily. The gearbox gets notchy after sometime if you muscle it through the linkages and the clutch plate and cable too gets worn a tad faster, so these cars wont be ideal to teach someone driving. These are the main key points that I have come to known with my brief ownership of both the cars.

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