The subcompact sedan segment isn’t just here to stay, but here to grow in leaps and bounds. Many factors are at play here, not least among them the growing demographic of young adults about to buy their first cars, and the looming excise tax measures that would hit the pricier segments hardest. 

This is not to take the credit away from the vehicles themselves, though. Today’s subcompact entries give their buyers their money’s worth. And that’s the beauty of a crowded competition – each brand must outdo not just one, or two, or three, but at least five other claimants to your hard-earned salary.


Which is why when the Suzuki Ciaz entered the subcompact fray, it had to offer something special. And it did, in three ways.


One, it came out with a sporty design, not scrimping in style for its segment. It didn’t go too bold, either. There’s just the right mix of curves and corners to help the owner or driver transition from “formal office mode” to “carefree weekend out-of-towner,” and back. And nothing is overkill (though I took notice of the not-too-subtle placements of the name “Ciaz” on the door handles, windows, and window visors).


Two, it provided the driver and passengers room to play: Great interior and trunk space, admirably minimal NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness), an incredibly light steering, and millennial playthings up at the center console, what with the Android OS-based infotainment system the GLX AT variant is equipped with. 


Three, the Ciaz power plant, a 1.4-liter, gasoline-powered DOHC 16V engine mated to a four-speed VVT automatic system (for this variant and the GL) or the five-speed manual tranny variant, is a certified fuel-miser. 

It may not be your most powerful sub-compact engine out there, as the displacement goes middle-of-the-road (between the 1.3 and 1.5-liter engines) and churns out a maximum of just 92 horses @ 6,000rpm and a maximum torque of 130 Nm @ 4,000 rpm. Still, among the three magic tricks the Ciaz performs, it’s the fuel efficiency that floors me. Consider: A midnight run from flatland Las Piñas to mountainous Montalban and back, maintaining speeds between 60 to 80 kph, yielded a 19.6 km/liter reading. On the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic - Clark - Tarlac Expressway, where I kept the speedometer between 90 and 100 kph, I was able to squeeze out an even more impressive 21.27 km/liter; a city run on two busy weekdays still resulted in a thrifty 12.20 km/liter at an average 20 kph.

The subcompact sedan segment isn’t just here to stay, but here to grow in leaps and bounds.

And why is this a big thing? Again, look at the bigger forces at play here. Once the revised taxes under the proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Package (CTRP) passes Congress and takes effect as planned next year, expect a P6 - to - P8 -per-liter increase in fuel. That’s when the young middle-class earner will certainly pinch his or her gas pennies, and go for the sipper instead of the guzzler.

Going by the potential gas savings one will get from the Ciaz’s remarkably fuel efficient engine and tranny, the seemingly steep price tag (P898,000 for this top-of-the-line variant) becomes easier to swallow. And if you feel that you can live without the keyless start/stop, the Android infotainment system, and automatic climate control, then you’ve chewed off an additional P113,000 in purchase costs with the GL A/T version. Less of the bells and whistles, but with the same dose of practical magic.



Positives: Remarkable fuel efficiency, large interior space, “just right” exterior styling


Negatives: Leather seats are too hot for tropical climates, big price gap between GLX and GL variants