This road test was done during my week in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Playa del Carmen is a beachfront town for families and people who don’t feel the need to shout at the mention of the word tequila. PDC sits midway between Tulum and Cancun, making it even more desirable for people who wish to see the Caribbean side of Mexico.
This tropical paradise was the week-long destination for my family’s (occasional) annual vacation. The 2019 Suzuki Ciaz was our rental for the week, and since one has a hard time turning off their brain while on vacation, I immediately started to review the Ciaz in my head. Here’s what I thought about this compact sedan, not sold (nor are any other Suzuki cars, trucks or SUVs) in the United States.
The Suzuki Ciaz was meant to replace the SX4 in Asia, Africa, and South American markets. You can still spot the occasional Suzuki SX4 here in America. Unlike the SX4, which was a quirky (but endearing) egg-shaped crossover, the Ciaz is a more traditional take on a compact sedan.
EXTERIOR: If the Ciaz was an actor…it would be an extra. If the Ciaz was a song it would play in an elevator as an instrumental. In short, the Suzuki Ciaz looks forgettable, blending into the background with its butter-smooth body lines. It looks like a car, by definition. It is not an ugly car. The headlights and grille give the Ciaz a friendly, non-threatening, face, which is refreshing in an era where auto designers give their vehicles arched headlights and aggressively gaping vents. The Suzuki Ciaz is the third wheel buddy who doesn’t complain, but instead, is just happy to be out of the house.
INTERIOR: I saw the trunk before I viewed the interior, and was very impressed with how much space there was. We were able to fit 4 carry-on suitcases with room to spare. Speaking of spare, you do get a spare tire underneath the floor mat. This was a rental car, so I was not expecting a lot of bells and whistles in this modest compact sedan. With that, I was surprised that the rear seat passengers get access to their own AC vents.
Upfront, the steering wheel had audio control buttons and power windows all around. The Pioneer head unit on the dashboard looked aftermarket, and there was a USB port cable tucked away in the glove box that also looked aftermarket. Regardless, they worked.
Seating in the rear was spacious, with legroom to spare. The only negative feedback on the interior for the Suzuki Ciaz is that the seats don’t have enough padding. Traveling for longer than 2 hours will result in groans and grunts when you step out of the Ciaz. Front seats don’t offer lumbar support either.
PERFORMANCE: The Suzuki Ciaz is powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine making a whopping 98 horsepower, connected to a 4-speed automatic transmission. I think this is the smallest horsepower output vehicle I’ve (un)officially reviewed. However, this little engine was plenty for the streets of Playa del Carmen. You really don’t need that much power to navigate through the controlled chaos, filled with pedestrians thinking they own the road, tourist riding mopeds for the first time and veteran taxi drivers who have traded up to shuttle vans. Mexico should have a museum dedicated to the history of speed bumps, because they have them all in service. I saw speed bumps large enough to flex the suspension of a Ford Raptor! The Suzuki Ciaz, when loaded with passengers and luggage, managed to scrape its underside on one, particularly large speed bump.
On the highway the Suzuki’s engine feels like an angry Jack Russell as it accelerates – if that’s the word – up to speed, making a noticeably loud buzz. I like that I didn’t have to mash the throttle just to get up to speed – the Suzuki Ciaz makes efficient work with what it has. And that’s a good thing, since Mexican highways are similar to Texas in that everyone drives 15mph over the posted speed limit, with way more tailgating. (Ever been tailgated by 3 tourists on a moped? I have.) There was a lot of road noise coming into the interior, which added to the fatigue when driving long distances. But as a means of transportation the Suzuki Ciaz fulfills its purpose.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The 2019 Suzuki Ciaz was an ideal rental car. It has a huge trunk, can seat 5 in a pinch, will charge your phone, and doesn’t attract attention. While the interior is not the most comfortable place to sit, you can at least take comfort in knowing that you’re on vacation.