I have been always wary about vans. Wonder why I just hate them. When asked to do the Tata Venture test, I had a crinkled nose as if I have just stepped on some shit and have even touched it with my hand. But then, the other day, my sister was shifting house and her hubby got his friend’s Maruti Eeco. Amazingly, the car carried everything from my sister and her husband to even the kitchen sink. I have new found respect for vans now and since the one in question was the Maruti Eeco in India, I booked myself in for a test drive from Maruti Motors authorized show room in Thane, Navnit Motors. Here are a few details from that ride.
To start of, the looks of the car are similar to the Maruti Versa which Mr. Amitabh Bacchan and his son tried to endorse. It has been given a slightly tweaked nose and some new graphics. Its ride height has been also increased. The air dam as well as the bumper have been enhanced to give it a modern look. Unfortunately this car is still offered with black plastic mirrors and not body colored ones. The Maruti Omni for which this car was a replacement, didn’t have a protruding bonnet but then for enhanced safety, the bonnet has been given prominence. The rear of the car is typical van like in shape. There is no wiper however at the rear. The rear bumper is also black in color. A hatch type opening door is present for ways loading of luggage.
The tyres are also skinny in keeping with making this as fuel efficient as possible. The 13 inch tyres with 155 section tyres look really weedy. Starting with the test drive, I had to clamber into the cabin rather than crouch, but then this is a van and not a car. Seating myself into the seats, the apparent cost cutting images come into mind with the way the door shuts or even the dashboard panels. But then, the build quality is way better than the Omni and even the old Versa. The seats offer a commanding view of the traffic around and the light steering wheel enables one to pilot this van with the least effort. With this very thought, Maruti Suzuki India Limited have designed the Maruti Eeco in India. With the front seats accommodating my 6 foot 4 inch frame, it was high time to move onto the rear bench. I have been in a Maruti Versa earlier and didn’t find it too comfortable but then the Eeco has got more space liberated due to its somewhat enhanced wheel base. Not exactly comfortable but then not disturbing as well. There are no head rests for the rear seat passengers. Moreover the entire layout of the dash reminds one of the Maruti Alto, pre the K10 change.
Maruti Eeco Photo Gallery
The Maruti Eeco in India gets a 5 seater or 7 seater option. As it is creature comforts are very low for a car this cheap. More on the pricing later. Shockingly, there is no power steering or any of the other power goodies. But then Maruti has done well to offer a heater and AC. The pampered ones would find that the fuel hatch release as well as the boot release are manual and not from inside the car. The moment I started driving this car, I forgot all about its shortcomings. Its short overhangs coupled with the fact that the engine lies under the front seat reduce the pressure on the front tyres. This in turn ensures good ease of driving. The engine also has been changed. It is a BS4 emission norms meeting 1.2 liter one pumping out 73 Bhp of peak power at 6,000 rpm whereas the peak torque is 101 Nm coming in at 3000 rpm. The engine is mated with a slick shifting 5 speed unit. The only problem is the engine is slightly wheezy with a full complement of passengers. I had to slip the clutch quite often to get the car moving with the AC on and total of 4 passengers. However without any one on board except the sales guy from Navnit Motors of course, the going on was smooth. The car has good pickup but not enough top end poke. The NVH is also nicely suppressed but then once in triple digits, it is quite audible, not a problem for the intended clientele. The sales man also informed me that the company has launched a CNG version of the same car but then it produces only 63 bhp of power and 83 Nm of torque. Do I want to drive it? No, its okay.
There is also a seven seater option up for grabs but then what is the difference between driving both. Nothing. The difference is only in the layout of the seats. The fuel efficiency is been estimated at 15.7 kmpl overall for the petrol version whereas for the CNG version, it is 20.2 km/kg on the highway. Maruti Eeco Price in India, I am been told is Rs 2,73,397 for the base 5 seater variant and upto Rs 3,63,962 for the 5 seater CNG version.
So when will I book the car is the next question by the salesman. Hmm, well, let me think and I will get back to you was my rhetoric to him. By my expression he knew that I am “Cold Customer”, a slang used for one who comes in for a timepass test drive. How true could he be? Heheh.