Suzuki’s Ertiga shines on Put Foot Rally

Suzuki’s newly launched Ertiga life utility vehicle (LUV) impressed with its combination of space, zip and fuel economy on the recent Put Foot Rally – a large social event that donates school shoes to needy African schools.

The Ertiga1.4 GLX, powered by a 1,4-litre four-cylinder engine, was provided by Suzuki Auto South Africa and campaigned by SuzuKings team members Brendon Carpenter and Chadré Oosthuizen. It was one of 29 vehicles competing in the 18-day, 8 000 km social rally.

Making the most of its spacious interior, the team loaded the Ertiga to the hilt with food supplies, camping gear and luggage. But with long distances the order of the day, the team was also hoping that the little Suzuki would live up to its frugal fuel consumption promise.

The official specifications credit the Ertiga with a combined-cycle consumption figure of 6,6 litres/100 km, but travelling to the Cape Town start from Johannesburg, the SuzuKings recorded an average of 5,7 litres/100 km – well below the claimed figure.

The Ertiga continued its fuel-sipping prowess during the first official stage of the Put Foot Rally from Cape Town to Namibia, shrugging off the challenge of hundreds of kilometres of gravel roads and sandy passes to post an average fuel consumption of 6,3 litres/100 km – still less than the factory claim.

After Swakopmund and Windoek, the team headed northwards through the Etosha National Park and the Caprivi Strip on the way to Zambia. However, the Ertiga wasn’t in the least intimidated by the long distances, further reducing its appetite for unleaded to just 6,1 litres/100 km.

In fact, once the team had covered the remainder of the route through Zambia to Malawi, back into Zambia and then through Zimbabwe to the Beit Bridge border post in South Africa, the consumption figure had dropped even further.

In all, the plucky Ertiga completed a total distance of 10 935 km in 24 days, including travelling to the start of the event in Cape Town, and back to Johannesburg from the finish. It averaged just 6,0 litres/100 km for the full distance.

The entire journey was completed without a hitch, with the team suffering no breakdowns or flat tyres. In fact, there wasn’t even a chip on the windscreen by the time the SuzuKings team returned to Johannesburg.

“This was the first time we entered the Put Foot Rally,” says Carpenter. “We had originally planned to enter my 2008 Suzuki Swift GLS in the ‘Just A Car’ class, which caters for vehicles without four-wheel drive or low-range transmissions.”

However, Suzuki Auto SA decided that providing the SuzuKings with an Ertiga would be a perfect opportunity to test the real-world fuel consumption of the Ertiga, while also proving the mettle of the newcomer in a variety of conditions.

“As it turns out, the Ertiga was the perfect choice,” Carpenter adds. “Not only was it even more economical than expected, but the spacious interior easily swallowed all our gear and supplies, while the raised ride height was a real benefit on the potholed roads we encountered in western Zambia.”

The 29 teams competing in the Put Foot Rally were each required to raise at least R10 000 of sponsorship for the Put Foot Foundation, with the SuzuKings contributing R18 000. During the rally, three shoe drops at schools in the Western Cape, Etosha in Namibia, and Livingstone in Zambia, provided some 1 600 school children with a brand new pair of shoes.

According to Francois van Eeden, Suzuki Auto SA national marketing manager, the company is delighted with the reliability and fuel efficiency demonstrated by the new Ertiga during the gruelling, long-distance event.

“The absence of any rattles or squeaks after more than 10 000 km of challenging roads bears testimony to the exceptional build quality of the Ertiga, while achieving real-world fuel consumption well below our official figures, proves that the new Ertiga is perfectly suited to our local conditions and the high fuel prices. As such, it offers economy-minded consumers with exceptional value.”