FOR Suzuki, their Smart Hybrid vehicle is a significant transition that bodes well for the future of green mobility.
So, when the New Ertiga Hybrid made its local debut, Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPH) finally had its take on sustainable mobility in the country. Highlighting the manufacturer’s proprietary Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki (SHVS) technology, the latest “mild” hybrid version now comes standard in four variants—the first and only in the seven-seater compact MPV class.
For us to experience the hybrid system, SPH recently hosted a drive event where ten GLX variants were commissioned. The drive event was an over 160-kilometer journey to Lotus Pod in Laguna and back to Suzuki Auto Kawit in Cavite.
The right amount of upgrades
The number of upgrades inside and out is just about enough for distinction. Exterior-wise, this hybrid version received a new front grill design with chrome (GL and GLX) and black (GA) finishes, and of course, there is the “Hybrid” badge at the back. Exclusive to the top-spec GLX is the Follow-me-home headlights function, Electric folding Side Mirrors, Chrome Door Handles, and 15-inch two-tone polished Alloy Wheels.
Inside, the instrument panel’s 4.2-inch full-color LCD TFT Display, Hybrid operation display, and driving range, to name a few, are standard. Exclusive to the GLX grade are the tilt-adjusted and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise control, and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls, among others. Moreover, highlighted in the dash panel are the GLX’s 10-inch touchscreen infotainment with SmartLink connectivity functions, automatic climate control, and wooden finishes, among others. The dark-themed interior matches the seat’s two-toned material.
SHVS in action
The whole idea of the drive was for us to experience the Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki (SHVS) technology. Dubbed a “mild hybrid”, the system is a lightweight and compact hybrid system. The main components are an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) with a 12-volt lithium-ion battery that supplies power to its small integrated electric motor. These components operate with a 1.5-liter K15B petrol engine paired with a four-speed automatic (GL and GLX) and a five-speed manual (GA and GL) transmission options.
The gasoline engine generates 103 hp at 6,000 rpm and 138 N-m of maximum torque at 4,400 rpm. What was interesting during the pre-drive presentation was learning that the ISG produces 3.5 hp and a substantial 50 N-m of torque. That is because the mechanism’s primary function, aside from acting as the conventional alternator, is as an electric motor assisting mainly during acceleration. Suzuki calls it Torque Assist Function. In this case, it is the ISG helping the engine via a rubber belt.
Assigned to an automatic variant, we took all expressways from Cavite to Laguna. Early on, the Torque Assist Function was evident immediately and throughout, providing additional power to the engine in every series of acceleration. That extra torque from ISG gave that power feels like the vehicle had a bigger engine. Here lies the system’s primary objective of achieving excellent fuel efficiency. By assisting the engine during acceleration, there is less load, hence, better fuel consumption. But every time the vehicle settled to cruising speeds, we felt that the ISG functioned back to being a conventional alternator, minus the extra power. It is only during braking and deceleration that the system revives to do regenerative braking (Brake Energy Regeneration) to help charge the lithium battery.
Further, we experienced the ISG’s Engine Auto Stop-Start System (EASS) function. Unlike similar functions via an engine starter, this system felt smoother and quieter in reviving the motor immediately upon stepping on the accelerator. But of course, since the engine is off, so is the air-con compressor. Good thing there is an option to disable the function whenever not needed. Suzuki designed the ISG to function as an engine assist, lithium battery charger, regenerative braking, and engine starter.
Apart from the long list of convenience features, the New Ertiga Hybrid is built on a light yet highly rigid body derived from Suzuki’s new generation platform – HEARTECT. This new continuous frame design increases underbody stiffness and effectively disperses impact energy to improve safety while reducing noise and vibration. Add to that the Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which disseminates collision forces across the vehicle frame to mitigate damage to the car and passengers.
Other standard safety features are the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), SRS airbags, an antilock-braking system with electronic brake distribution, and ISOFIX child seat anchorages. The Hill-Hold-Control function, meantime, is exclusive to GL and GLX.
Smart and big on fuel savings
While conventional Hybrid setups are yet to convince more Filipino drivers as the initial step to greener driving, the New Ertiga’s mild hybrid system would be the easier-to-digest option for the country. Everything under the hood is the same, with a couple of added components. Further, a more worry-free option should the system fail, the gasoline engine is still the primary vehicle propeller—the best part of a mild hybrid system that produces excellent fuel efficiency in real-world driving.
To prove SHVS’s superior fuel efficiency, SPH had all the commissioned vehicles set up for an eco-run activity. We all proceeded to the designated fuel station in Laguna as the last stop to top up and determine actual consumption. One group managed to achieve over 26 kilometers/liter of consumption. According to the group, they just drove normally as anyone would going to their destination. Now that is one impressive motor-assist function effect thanks to Suzuki’s ISG.