India’s largest selling sedan, the Dzire, has been recreated with the aim of meeting our increasing needs and wants. How much better is this Maruti Suzuki from its predecessor?
Creating their next-generation compact sedan has been quite a challenge for Maruti Suzuki. Our expectations and demands from the segment have increased while the segment has slowed down. Maruti Suzuki has had to think twice as hard to ensure that their new Dzire not only tempts and satisfies sedan buyers’ needs but also meets upcoming safety standards, and all within the sub-4 metre footprint. If you are looking for a compact sedan, is the Dzire the all-rounder to put your money on now?
Design & Style
Let it be known right at the start – the Dzire looks nicer in the flesh than it does in pictures. Even then, it isn’t a design that you like right away, but it certainly grows on you. The Dzire shares its face with the upcoming Swift, but an altered bumper, a revised grille with chunky slats and chrome highlights give it a more mature feel. The Zxi+ variant that we sampled is the only one that offers all the features that make this Dzire sparkle, like the LED projector headlamps, LED DRLs, the tail lamps with an LED element and the 15-inch dual-tone alloy wheels.
The first two generations of the Dzire were closely related to the Swift hatchback. This was also backed up by the ‘Swift Dzire’ badge. However, for the third generation, the ‘Swift’ name has been dropped, and the compact sedan is now the Dzire. In terms of design Maruti Suzuki would like us to believe that the Swift and Dzire are not as closely related anymore. However, we know that both cars are based on the Heartect platform and even share the 2450mm wheelbase. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that the lines flow more smoothly, especially the roof line. The shoulder line looks gentle yet muscular and the roof line flows smartly into the boot. What really helps the Dzire is that it looks more proportionate. It is said to be 40mm wider and the roof is said to be 40mm lower than before. The Dzire also has a wheelbase that is 20mm longer. All of this helps the Dzire look more planted and confident while keeping the overall length under 4 metres.
The petite looking boot is also topped with chrome and it opens up to reveal 378 litres of storage, 62 more than before, but that still isn’t the best-in-class figure. In our quick luggage test we saw that we could pack in more than expected. The shape of the boot opening also makes it easy to load luggage.
On the inside the Dzire feels a lot more relaxed and upmarket. Let’s start in the back seat, because there is a clear focus on improving the experience here. There is enough legroom even for the tallest of passengers but the rolling roof line could bother passengers taller than 6 feet. Maruti Suzuki says there is 40mm more shoulder room and while this is plenty for two passengers, sitting three abreast will be manageable only for shorter stints. The sense of space is greater not just because of more width inside the cabin, but also because of the lighter colours in use.The overall sense of roominess is a highlight here.
Creature comforts include an armrest with two cup holders, a console between the front seats that houses a charging point, a slot to keep your phone and aircon vents for the rear passenger. While a direct USB slot would have been more handy and the plastics around the aircon vents looked misaligned, there is a clear focus in tempting people to spend more time in the backseat. However, the seat cushioning is a bit too soft and the same can be said of the bucket seats in the front. These seats are tall and wide which make them well suited for larger passengers too. The amount of headroom on offer is truly impressive here.
The beige and black colour combination for the dashboard looks smart and the faux wood inlays look very convincing. The actual dash design is simple with small touches that add to the sense of sophistication. The centre console is gently tilted towards the driver and the way the touchscreen on the centre console juts out a bit looks attractive.
The new steering wheel is undoubtedly a highlight – the squared-off lower part of the steering is a connect to race cars where the design is used to allow more room for driver’s legs when sat in cramped cockpits. Here, the steering on the Zxi+ is wrapped in faux leather and wood for a luxurious feel. The switches on the steering wheel are also smart to look at and plush to use. The sense of quality seems higher, especially as you look at the beautiful piano black surround for the gear shift lever on the AMT. The gearshift lever is also beautifully finished in leather and metallic accents.
But there’s a lot of familiar bits too; like the instrument cluster for the driver has two simple but easy to read analogue dials with a LCD screen for the car computer in between. The switches for the power windows look as plain as ever and while finish seems better, some plastic rattles were evident on our drive.
Starting with safety – dual-airbags, ABS (Anti-lock Braking system – lets you have control on where you steer even when braking hard), EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution – for safe and balanced braking) and BA (Brake Assist – helps brake hard, stop sooner in emergencies) is offered as standard from the base L variants. ISOFIX anchor points for child seats are also standard. That aside, the new Heartect platform helps the Dzire comply with upcoming crash test and pedestrian safety standards.
Coming to the equipment, the base L variant misses out on several features such as keyless entry, power windows, central locking, etc, to help keep a competitive starting price tag and that makes it seem quite basic in terms of features. The V variant is well equipped and offers a good balance of creature comforts and value. The ZXI gets a Start-Stop button, adds two tweeters to the four speaker setup, and gets automatic climate control. However, it is only the ZXI+ variant that gives you the modern day goodies like reversing camera, touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and LED headlamps with auto-headlamp on.
The Dzire carries over the diesel and petrol engines from the outgoing car. As before the 1.3 litre diesel makes 75PS of power and comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. It is offered with a 5-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) as well. The petrol is the 1.2-litre 83PS unit with the option of an automatic transmission too. This time around, instead of the heavy and expensive planetary gearbox Maruti has used an AMT here as well. The petrol and diesel are said to be 85kg and 95kg lighter than before, respectively. So, performance and fuel efficiency should improve despite the engine making the same power and torque figures as before.
After sampling the AMT on the Ignis our expectations from the AMT-equipped petrol were high. For this bigger and heavier car that is less boisterous in nature, the way the AMT works has been retuned. The gear changes are fewer and less rushed with the intention of keeping the drive smooth. For the most part the gearbox is smooth and hassle free, but it does get caught out every now and then and makes you miss the refinement of the older gearbox. For instance, while climbing up slopes the gearbox will give you a sudden jump in acceleration when you put your foot down. The upside is that this gearbox offers the same fuel efficiency as the manual, a company-claimed 22kmpl. We drove the petrol in the manual guise as well, and as before, the engine feels peppy for everyday commuting. It also enjoys being revved and that makes it apt for open roads and highway use too. These traits are common with the AMT version too.
Start off in the 1.3 diesel and it becomes apparent that the engine noise is a bit subdued now. But as the engine starts to spin faster the coarse note becomes apparent in the cabin. There is a bit of turbo-lag under 2000 rpm, but after that the engine gets a burst of energy.
While this is exciting it can make driving smoothly at low speeds a bit tricky. With the AMT transmission the problem is well taken care of, as long as you are in the calm commuter mode. No doubt the gearshifts have become smoother over the older AGS (Maruti’s terminology for AMT) system.
However, if you decide to get a bit enthusiastic the jerkiness associated with AMTs becomes apparent. This is disappointing as Maruti had managed to iron out this aspect very well in the Ignis. The gearbox’s brain makes it upshift early and while this helps the company claim a fuel efficiency of 28.4kmpl it gets in the way of a smooth and responsive driving experience. The lack of a Sport mode or paddles leaves you with little choice in the matter. So, if you are looking for a highway machine, the manual diesel would be the more sensible choice. What is common across all variants is that the manual mode on the AMT is fairly prompt and gives you greater control. Also, the manual transmissions shift smoothly and feel good to use.
Comfort and Handling
The Dzire’s suspension setup is outstanding in the way it tackles rough roads. You can drive over broken and potholed roads with just a trace of the roughness creeping into the cabin. The Zxi and Zxi+ ride on 15” rims; the 14” rims on the lower variants will have tyres with taller sidewalls and this should help tackle rough roads even better. The quiet manner in which the suspension works also helps to make the in-cabin experience richer.
From behind the wheel at near triple digit speeds on the highway, the Dzire feels relaxed and composed, but it is unexciting to drive. The steering has a nice weight at low speeds that gets lighter at higher speeds. Then, when you turn rapidly into a corner the Dzire follows your instructions. However, the lack of feel from the steering makes the experience anything but enjoyable. The Dzire uses discs at the front and drum brakes at the rear. This Maruti has enough bite to slow you down from high speeds, but you need to push down firmly on the pedal to tap into this power.
Clearly, the Dzire has changed from being an afterthought to a hatchback, into a sedan that has been thought out as an independent package with its own identity. The new Dzire has grown into a more mature sedan that, despite its size constraint, tries and manages to deliver the experience of a larger midsize sedan. While the Rs 8.41L price for the petrol automatic and Rs 9.41L price for the top-end diesel automatic pushes it into midsize sedan space, the Dzire is bringing class-leading features to the table. It is also the first of the new generation of compact sedans in the market that is designed keeping upcoming crash test norms in mind. For the time being this will make it look pricey in comparison to its rivals. Yes, we have some other things to nitpick about, but for the large part, this compact sedan is an impressive car that has raised our expectations from Maruti Suzuki. The new Dzire balances appeal with practicality surprisingly well now.
Words: Kartikeya Singhee
Images: Vikrant Date
Interesting Read - New Maruti Suzuki Dzire Vs Hyundai Xcent Spec Comparo