This time around, we are bringing you a detailed review of 2017 Suzuki Cultus VXL. We have received quite a lot requests asking us to write something about the new car. Before I start with my review of the 2017 Cultus, let us talk a bit about the history of the car.
2017 Suzuki Cultus Introduction
Suzuki Pakistan launched the first gen Cultus back in 2000 after the automaker discontinued the popular Suzuki Khyber. In 2007-08, Pak Suzuki replaced the carby engine with an EFI unit (same engine, different fuel injection). The same EFI unit was later made Euro II compliant in 2012. Up until April 2017, Suzuki Pakistan was selling the same vehicle with minor cosmetic changes every now and then. During its tenure, Suzuki offered the car with a CNG kit as well. The older Cultus remained in production for almost 17 years. Pak Suzuki really took its time to bring a replacement.
And in 2017, the new 2017 Suzuki Cultus was finally revealed. The new Cultus is available in two variants,Suzuki Cultus VXR
The VXL is the superior model offering more features at a higher price. Suzuki Cultus VXR 2017 is priced at PKR 1,250,000 whereas Suzuki Cultus VXL 2017 is priced at PKR 1,391,000.
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Now let’s start with our review.
PS: The car was provided to us by one of our gracious colleagues who decided not to clean the car before bringing it to us. So don’t mind the dirty floor mats.
The exterior of the new Cultus is as different from the previous Cultus as it could be. The new car is a massive jump from its previous generation. It is just a new car from scratch. It would be not wrong to say that Suzuki really milked the previous generation Cultus. I mean they are still milking the Mehran. So why not do the same with other cars. But thank goodness they decided to introduce the new model. The previous Cultus had been in production for many years without any substantial change (new front grills do not count, people). It had the similar platform the old Suzuki Margalla sedan had. Pretty much the same car but without the boot. So it’s a good thing we finally got ourselves a brand new car.
To see how the 2017 Cultus fit size-wise between other available hatchbacks, I have made this simple graph below with all the dimension of said vehicles.
So yes, both the Cultus 2017 and new Suzuki WagonR has the same physical length. The older Cultus was significantly longer; more than nine and a half inch longer. But overall longer car doesn’t automatically mean that it will be spacious as well. 2017 Suzuki Cultus has longer wheelbase compared to the older Cultus (2.3-inch longer); meaning potential roomier interior.
Looking at the car at first, one can argue that the car now looks related to Suzuki family. It’s like a middle child between Suzuki Swift and Suzuki WagonR. New Cultus looks like the shorter fatter elder brother of WagonR, to be honest. But overall, the car looks modern and contemporary.
Where the previous Cultus has very low down and sleek frontend, the new car is completely opposite. The car has a massive front end grill, and the overall the frontend looks stubbed and slightly raised. Front grill meets both the headlights edge to edge. Headlights are also large and wrap themselves around the front corners of the car. Under the front dual-beam crystal headlights, you have fog lights with blacked out bottom grill in between. The upper half of the front looks like it’s smiling. But the bottom half looks like the car is suffering from prognathism of lower jaw.
Looking at the profile of the car, you will notice how flowy the design of the new car is. There are no angular, sharp edges and the whole car is softer and smooth cuts and overall flow. Profile of the car kind of resembles current Suzuki Swift in Pakistan. Except for that arch/crease in the middle that originates right under the side signal in the front fender and goes all the way back to back brake light, there isn’t much going on there.
Moving to the back of the car, you have kind of an elongated trapezoid brake lights. The rear windscreen is slightly narrow but has good width. You get an innocuous-looking rear spoiler with the top mounted brake lamp embedded in it. At the bottom end, you have your bumper with a slot for number plate, and in the middle of the boot lid, you get your hatch opener.
Overall body panels fitting and gaps were pretty consistent. But there was something majorly wrong with the window frame of the driver side door. It was not flushed with the right side B-pillar. But I feel like someone tried to wrangle with the door rather than it being a manufacturing fault. But other than that, the car felt nicely put together. Except for the paint quality. It was just mediocre. We can’t call it bad or inferior. It was just ordinary and nothing too fancy.
The dashboard is as stylish as you would expect from a mid-level Pakistani hatchback; it isn’t! Suzuki Pakistan has offered multi-tone interior (dashboard trims and upholstery), but I think it only adds to the cheapness of the interior. And those cut and curves (talking about the diagonal line in passing through the passenger side of the dashboard) are completely unnecessary and do not add anything to the overall design of the interior in general and dashboard in specific (except maybe an extra place where dirt will set in and becomes a pain to clean). But it is practical.
Right in the middle of the dashboard, you get a factory fitted audio system that supports Bluetooth (media audio/phone call), USB and AUX. And right above the CD slot, you have you have air vents. Under the audio unit, you have manual A/C controls with fan speed in the middle, position knob on the left, and temperature knob on the right.
One thing that actually surprised me is the build quality of the interior. I am not talking about the design or the quality of the plastic, which is cheap (no surprise there!). I am talking about the way all the interior parts and panels have been put together. I must say, it was pretty impressive. Only a month ago I reviewed new facelifted Corolla, and some of its improperly aligned panels and dashboard gaps were pretty obvious. And I am pleasantly surprised to say that this was not the case with the Cultus. And yes, it is quite possible your Cultus has some issues, cause let’s be honest, the quality control isn’t a big thing here in Pakistan. But as far this particular Cultus is concerned, I couldn’t find anything sketchy. All the rubber seals were seated perfectly, all the plastic panels (except one) were properly aligned and seated; top job by Pak Suzuki there in my humble opinion.
But what I don’t get is why wouldn’t Suzuki Pakistan just invest a little in a machine that can make them tiny plastic covers so they can hide the screws of side handlebars (assist grips). I mean, why? Why would they do that, it’s beyond me.
The dash meter is fairly simple. You get the bigger dial in the middle that shows speed, a smaller dial on the left shows RPM, and on the right, you have a digital meter that shows various information like fuel level, trip meter, clock, and distance to empty indication. I do think kilometer per liter meter is kinda glitchy and shows ballpark figures. And sometimes those figures went out of the park altogther. Maybe Suzuki needs to make it a bit more precise. You get fuel low warning lamp as well.
The cabin was relatively quiet, and except the rumble of K10 engine, you will not be disturbed by the outside noise as such. I mean of course you hear some external noise, but nothing too painful. No plastic parts creaking or suspension squeaking noises. The front door trims come with fabric as standard in VXL.
Cup holders and boot space
You get a bunch of cup holders and storage places in the cabin. There are as many as five cup holders available in the car. Both rear door panels have cup holders. VXL comes with four speakers, so you have two in the front and two in the back door panels. There are a handful of storage places as well. Under the A/C control unit, you get a 12V output, and under that, there is small tray (in front of gear lever). Then behind the gear lever and in front of the handbrake, you get another storage place as well as two cup holders. All four doors have storage trays in them. The boot has storage space of 254 liters. The rear seats can be split 60:40.
The gear level is situated at an unusual level. Usually, they are down in the middle between both front seats. So you have to extend your arm from the elbow outwards to the left to reach to the gear lever. Whereas in this Cultus, the lever is placed not only slightly upwards to the dashboard, but also its raised at an angle. The lever base starts where the driver seat’s front end is, and it is pointed at an angle right towards the driver. The benefit is that your arm/hand doesn’t need to travel a lot from steering wheel to the gear lever when driving and changing gear; take your hand off the steering, quickly reach the lever, change gear, and hand back on the wheel.
It has the same 3-cylinder K10B water-cooled engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. you would find in your Suzuki WagonR and makes the identical horsepower (67 BHP at 6000 RPM) and torque (90 Nm at 3500). The car is only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox (similarly from WagonR). The previous Cultus used to make humble 61 BHP. The G10 engine in the previous gen Cultus is an old engine. The current gen K10 engine is relatively new although it’s been around for maybe seven or so years when it was launched.
Being a 3-pot engine, there is an inherent vibration in the engine. Three-cylinder engines aren’t the most balanced engines out there so they vibrate at idle. Give it some gas and the vibration will go away. This vibration thing is the same in both the 2017 Suzuki Cultus and the WagonR since they share the same power plant. The vibration can be felt in the cabin and in the steering wheel albeit not as obvious as it was in WagonR.
As for the performance of the car goes, I don’t think it would be wrong to say that it is an excellent city car. I started driving the car from Liberty market here in Lahore, and it was traffic peak time. So you can imagine that you are stuck between first and second gears. You will hardly get a chance to put it in third gear. And surprisingly, the car had ample available torque in 2nd gear. It was so much fun to drive in that driving range that it made the whole rush hour thing a lot easier. You see a spot appear in front of you in the traffic among other cars, no need to shift down to race to that spot. Just push the accelerator a little, and the car will happily oblige.
In second gear even when the RPM was as low as 1200 RPM I would just give it some gas, and it would go like anything. The throttle was responsive and engine sang along with the throttle input. Simply put, the car was quick off its feet. The third gear was also quite impressive but not as good as the second. So if you have to drive a lot within city traffic, this car will not disappoint you. On long trips, at 120 km/h or above, the engine noise can become bothersome.
2017 Suzuki Cultus comes with a 35-litre fuel tank. And considering the car can return approximately 13 to 14 kilometers in a liter within city driving, you can calculate your final fuel average.
A/C is far better than what it was in the previous generation. The air throw was sufficient providing air to the back seats as well. But the chilling was not as good as one would hope from a relatively modern car. It was 36 degrees Celsius outside, and at least within the city, I felt like the A/C unit could’ve performed better. Maybe it was just a dirty condenser, but there was some space for improvement.
The car is equipped with ABS, so you do not need to worry about your vehicle skidding away. You get ventilated disks in the front and drums in the rear. With the factory fitted alloy wheels and tyres, there was ample grip, and car only kicked in its ABS unit under extreme wheel-lock conditions. Otherwise, the brakes and suspension are good enough to stop the car on their own without engaging the ABS.
Comfort & Handling
Overall, the new 2017 Suzuki Cultus felt a little cramped compared to the previous generation car. There is more headroom, but otherwise, you will feel there isn’t much width in the interior. Sitting in the driver seat, you will notice how your legs from the knees and below kind of feel trapped between the door trim and the extending center console lining. If you are six feet or above, you will feel constrained trying to move in that space. I ended up driving the car with the steering wheel tilted fully upwards. But that made it feel like I am driving a little van, and not a car.
Also, the backrest of the front seats felt flat. There was minimum lateral support for the back. But I do think that those hideous aftermarket seat covers were more to blame here than the seats themselves. The backrest just flushes down along with the headrest, and you feel like your shoulders are exposed. That can get tiring on long journeys if your body is not fully supported by the seat of the car.
The rear is the same story. The 2017 Suzuki Cultus is supposed to fit five people; two in the front and three in the rear. You can fit three adults in the back, but they will not be comfortable, that’s for sure. It is one thing to ride for half an hour like this. But if you are traveling on the motorway or worse, on GT road, you might need to stop a bit more frequently to stretch your legs. The leg space in the rear is fine for kids or even shorter adults. But taller folks will have trouble back there. Also, one thing that I noticed was that the frame of rear door to enter the car is kind of narrow. So you are packing some extra kilograms, getting in and out might become a struggle.
Ride quality is way better than the previous Cultus. That car felt like a plank on wheels. But the 2017 Suzuki Cultus is many steps ahead in this regard. You get McPherson strut in the front and torsion beam in the rear. You can feel that the suspension is designed for Pakistani road. I don’t know it was intentional or its just how it is, but that is a major plus point of this car. The car just breezed over cat eyes and bumpy roads. I test drove the WagonR maybe a year or so ago. And it had the similar suspension and ride quality characteristics. Both cars performed fairly well on bad/damaged roads.
Tyres and road road
The factory tyres are 165/65R14. VXL model comes with factory alloys whereas the VXR model comes with steel wheels. The factory standard tyres provide decent road grip and the car handles pretty nice. It is a stark improvement compared to the older Cultus. New Cultus has the turning radius of 4.7 meters (older Suzuki Cultus has minimum turning radius of 4.8 meters). Although it isn’t much compared to the previous gen, keep in mind that the new car is also shorter in length. So turning and reversing it in short spaces is far easier than its previous iteration. That car was a pain to maneuver in tight spaces.
The car changed direction when I asked it to without any drama. The body roll for a family hatchback was fairly limited, and you can lean on the car without the fear of it tailing out when cornering. Its ground clearance is 145 mm; having a lowered car helps in directing change and body roll. Swerve it around a bit, and you will feel car sticking to the ground. Every time I changed steering angle abruptly and brought it back, the car stayed with me. You will notice this car behaving much better in understeer scenarios compared to older Cultus.
However, the steering wheel felt numb. It is expected from cars equipped with electronic power steering, which the new 2017 Suzuki Cultus has, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. But compared to WagonR, Cultus has better steering feel. It might sound absurd, but I felt like EPS of Cultus returned better feedback than the EPS of new Corolla.
Unlike WagonR, you get power windows in all four doors. And the side mirrors are electrically adjusted (VXL) only.
2017 Suzuki Cultus comes with ABS and SRS airbags. But unfortunately, both of these safety features are only available in VXL model. You get two airbags in the front; passenger and driver. Seat belts are 2-point retractable. Since it’s a new car and it complies with usual safety standards around the world, you get Suzuki’s safety concept body design to minimise injury to pedestrians.
The car also comes with keyless entry and an immobilizer.
2017 Suzuki Cultus Verdict
This new car, and no matter how much you dislike it is a step forward. In fact, I would say not just a step, but multiple steps. It’s a new generation car; it’s been designed relatively recently, the platform is new, the engine is new, the tech behind the car is new, the design philosophy is new, and the safety standards are latest. So yes, these are multiple steps. The safety standards have improved massively. This particular model of 2017 Suzuki Cultus was designed and made a few years back (Pakistan launch, of course, takes longer), so it would be safe to say that Suzuki Japan, or whoever came up with the new car, made sure to meet all the international safety standards with the new Cultus.
On the other hand, it comes with a relatively big price tag. The 2017 Suzuki Cultus VXR is priced at 12.5 lacs whereas the VXL is for Rs13.91 lacs. With registration, taxes and other costs, it might end up costing you as much as 14.5 lacs. That is a lot of money for a hatchback. And the price figures gets harder to swallow when you can get a newish imported Toyota Vitz at the similar price. And the Vitz is a better car hands down. But then again, Cultus is a local car with local after sales support. So I guess it all comes to priorities and personal choice then.
But this is not the end of the debate. After driving the new Cultus, I can say it with fair amount of confidence that this new gen car feels like it was explicitly made for Pakistan and Pakistani road/traffic conditions. From the way its suspension handles our bad roads to its engine that provides maximum torque in the mid-range, it just feels at home here on our urban roads.
It is a decent little car, and there is no denying that. But price tag kind of makes you scream on the inside. Also, I solemnly believe Pak Suzuki should have introduced an automatic transmission version as well. I think both Suzuki and FAW (small car assemblers) are ignoring a decent chunk of market that would like to buy an auto car. That market segment ends up buying a used imported vehicle instead.
On a personal note, I wish Suzuki had changed the name of the new car from Cultus to something else; maybe Celerio.
View through the gallery for more photos below:
Hope to see you next time again with a new review of a different car. Until then, happy motoring!
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