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Compact Sedan Spec Comparison 2016

  • Mar 04, 2016
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[caption id="attachment_17343" align="alignnone" width="1024"]A06A7498 The compact sedan segment is on the rise and will only grow in the near future.[/caption]

There is no disagreeing on the fact that small is big (figuratively) for us Indians. Same goes for cars as well. We all like to have the features of a bigger car into a smaller one. The compact sedan segment in India is hotbed of activity and more and more manufacturers are wanting to cash on this very lucrative segment. With Volkswagen Ameo's launch on the anvil, we stack the odds for all cars in this segment and also do a SWOT analysis of sorts for all the cars barring the Ameo, in this segment. So here goes...

Stacking up the competition:
So this will be a fatal five-way match. The cars which go head to head are the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, the Hyundai Xcent, the Tata Zest, the Ford Figo Aspire and the recently launched 2016 edition of the Honda Amaze. This so called compact sedan segment was spawned off by the Dzire, when Maruti decided to chop off the boot of the Dzire Tour to get the duty benefits of being a sub four-metre car. The trend caught on and all these manufacturers decided to make the best use of the currently available hatchback models and make space for a compact sedan in their model line-up. Needless to say, Maruti has ruled the roost in this space, thanks to its first mover advantage and has held on ever since. The Amaze and the Xcent are doing pretty well and the Zest has definitely shaken the segment when it was launched. The Figo Aspire gave a whole new twist to the segment by getting a 6-speed dual clutch transmission and solid looks and in the next few months a new player will be entering the fold as well. So the segment is blown wide open again.

[gallery ids="17253,12754,19544,19658,13649"]

Look me up:
This of course, is a personal point of view but we are sure that not many will disagree when we say that the Figo Aspire is the best-looker amongst the five cars that are being discussed. The bold (often described as Aston Martin-esque) grille along with that chrome lends solid street presence to the Figo Aspire. The lines are defined well and overall styling is perhaps the best out here. Our only grouse are the wheels. Only if Ford had given better designed alloys to the Figo Aspire, we would have been happier. Of course, if Ford had just styled the rear bootlid a bit differently, but still, we are not complaining.

[caption id="attachment_19664" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Figo Aspire grille Figo Aspire grille[/caption]

Up next is the Tata Zest. Definitely a cool looking thing, the Zest is. Those big projector headlamps do a world of good, not only to the looks but in terms of illumination as well. The bumper is aggressively designed as well. Only if the Zest was a little less rounded and had a few edges here and there, it could have looked more appealing. For sure, the Zest is one of the better looking cars in the segment.

Tata Zest

The front end of the Xcent is smart enough, owing to the Grand i10 and its design. But the rear is a different story. Although the chrome lip does add to the looks but when it comes to the overall design, the Xcent feels a tad less rad. Point being, it looks a bit too soft when going up against the Figo Aspire and the Zest. What adds a bit of muscle are the plastic cladding on the sides. They definitely do a good job of adding character to a design that is not up to the mark.

Hyundai-Xcent-Front

The Dzire is the oldest car here and had started to show its age a while ago. The front end borrowed from the Swift was a good move when the car was launched but with better styled cars such as the Figo Aspire and the Zest. Even the Xcent and the Amaze look more modern and contemporary when compared to the Dzire. The stubby boot doesn't add to the design, but credit to Maruti Suzuki's R&D team who thought that chopping the boot off would simply spawn a segment altogether.

Rounding things up, the Amaze straddles between the good and the bad when it comes to looks. The car is well proportioned, with the stubby front end and those lines along the profile are what makes the Amaze look good. With the subtle changes in the styling, most notably the single chrome strip on the grille and the re-styled bumper the Amaze is definitely better looking than before. A thick strip of chrome and redesigned tail lamps are the new bits at the rear.

[caption id="attachment_19658" align="alignnone" width="1024"]The 2016 Honda Amaze launched in India. The 2016 Honda Amaze launched in India.[/caption]



What's cooking inside?
It is essential for manufacturers to have a finger on the pulse of the needs and wants of car buyers in this segment. Lots of features crammed in and keep the pricing exciting enough. One of the many ways in which the manufacturers attract potential buyers. So lets get going.

[caption id="attachment_15586" align="alignnone" width="900"]Hyundai Xcent interior Hyundai Xcent interior[/caption]

How pleasing the cabin of the car is to look at versus the amount of features offered. A very perplexing problem that Hyundai has managed to find a solution to. The layout is not exactly top of the charts but it does the job and uses decent materials going along. The fit and finish levels are good too but Hyundai uses hard plastics all around. But, what sets the Xcent apart from the others is the long list of features. 1GB storage space for your music, reverse-parking camera with sensors, ABS as standard across all models, rear AC vents, climate control, start/stop button and phew! That definitely is a long list. Full marks to Hyundai for the same.

The Figo Aspire carries the good styling inside the car as well. The layout is tidy and soft plastics are used. The gloss black surround for the centre console is a win. Top of the line models can be specified with leather seats and a programmable key. Two airbags are standard across all variants, which is a great step taken by Ford.

Ford Figo Aspire Dashboard

The Zest does not lag behind the Xcent too much when it comes to features. A 6-speaker Harman Kardon system, DRLs, projector headlamps are features that only the Zest gets amongst all the cars here. The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and only Zest has that particular feature in this motley group. The Dzire's cabin has a dated layout but there is a certain feel-good factor about it. The beige tones look and feel classy. ABS and airbags come only on the higher trims and there is a distinct lack of storage spaces in the cabin. A thorough revamp would do wonders to the desirability of this car.

Tata Zest interior

The last car here, the 2016 Amaze, has gone through a complete overhaul inside. Gone are the plasticky feeling bits and the old-school AC controls. In comes a new layout, soft touch plastics, a new infotainment system along with climate control and a start/stop button. Airbags will be available as an option right from the base models. Surprisingly, the touchscreen AVN system that Honda had earlier introduced on the Amaze has been discontinued. It still does duty on the Brio and the Mobilio though.

[caption id="attachment_19659" align="alignnone" width="1024"]The interiors on the 2016 Honda Amaze have been completely redesigned. The interiors on the 2016 Honda Amaze have been completely redesigned.[/caption]



Is it safe enough:

[caption id="attachment_19660" align="alignnone" width="1024"]The top of the trim Figo Aspire gets 6 airbags. A definite segment first. The top of the trim Figo Aspire gets 6 airbags. A definite segment first.[/caption]

The regulations for Motor Vehicles in India is still not as stringent as in other parts of the world but manufacturers are still putting in the required attention that this aspect of a car deserves. Without a doubt, the Ford Figo Aspire takes the cake here. The only car to offer upto six airbags (side and curtain), even if on the top of the line models only. Two airbags are standard across all variants. ABS with EBD come in the top two trims. The 1.5-litre petrol variant gets ESP, traction control and hill-start assist as well. The top two trims also get perimeter alarm. One can optionally fit parking sensors and/or a camera on the Figo Aspire though.

The Hyundai Xcent is more or less at par with ABS as standard across all variants. Two airbags are on offer on the SX and the SX(O) models. The Xcent is the only car here which gets a reverse parking camera with sensors, on the top trim of course. With the 2016 Amaze launched recently, Honda now gives the customers to specify dual airbags right from the base models. ABS with EBD is standard in all diesel engine trims but only the top two trims from petrol get the same.

[caption id="attachment_19550" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Steering Maruti Suzuki DZire Can be fitted with ABS and airbags starting from the base model.[/caption]

The Zest also has ABS with EBS, speed sensing door locks, dual airbags for all trims except the base and the one above it. Tata could definitely have given these right from the base model. With the recent updates, Maruti Suzuki played it smart and has provided customers with the option to fit even the base models with ABS with and airbags. Speed sensitive door locks are standard while only the ZXI and the ZDI variants get reverse-parking sensors.

[caption id="attachment_19668" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Compact sedan features Compact sedan features[/caption]



Packing a punch:

[caption id="attachment_19665" align="alignnone" width="1024"]One of the engines that the Figo Aspire gets is a 1.5-litre, Ti-VCT motor that churns out 112PS and is mated to a 6-speed DCT unit. One of the engines that the Figo Aspire gets is a 1.5-litre, Ti-VCT motor that churns out 112PS and is mated to a 6-speed DCT unit.[/caption]

While not many buyers are looking for a compact sedan that offers a spirited performance. It is all about convenience, practicality and efficiency. Ford, veery sportingly, has tried to combine all of this with a hint of performance. On paper at least. The Figo Aspire has the most powerful engine amongst the famous five here. With a choice from three engines, a 1.2-litre petrol, a 1.5-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel, Ford has given food for thought to the buyers. The most fun engine is the 1.5-litre 110PS engine that comes linked to a 6-speed dual clutch transmission system. Yes! A DCT on a compact sedan. Well done, Ford! An exciting prospect to say the least and will definitely pack a punch.

Tata Zest rear profile

The Zest gets a 1.2-litre Revotron engine for both petrol and diesel. Both the engines churn out a decent 90PS at different rev ranges of course. There is one diesel engine option which is tuned to produce 75PS. What is slightly mystifying is the fact that apart from the standard 5-speed MT, the Zest can be specified with an AMT unit but only for the 90PS diesel engines and not for the petrols.

Up next is the 2016 Amaze which retains the powertrains i.e. a 1.2-litre 88PS i-VTEC engine and a 1.5-litre 100PS i-DTEC version. Standard transmission is a 5-speed ,manual gearbox but the top petrol trims can now be specified with a CVT unit instead of the earlier 4-speed torque converter. The Dzire has its two standard engine options, the old 1.2-litre petrol and the evergreen Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre Multijet diesel that has remained the same ever since the car was launched. The Dzire is the only car which can be paired with an AMT unit in both the petrol and the diesel engine models.

[caption id="attachment_19662" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Prices for the new Amaze start at Rs 5.29 lakh. (ex-showroom, Delhi) Prices for the new Amaze start at Rs 5.29 lakh. (ex-showroom, Delhi)[/caption]

Lastly, we come to the Hyundai Xcent, which gets a 1.2-litre petrol engine that churns out 83PS and a 1.1-litre diesel that puts out 72PS. The Xcent has the most anaemic engines of the lot here. For the lazier ones, Xcent has a 4-speed torque converter automatic transmission unit that they can choose instead of a 5-speed manual.

[caption id="attachment_19669" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Compact sedans engine specifications Compact sedans engine specifications[/caption]

That's all folks:

So there it is. Its all laid out in black and white. On paper, the Figo Aspire looks to be strong contender while the Zest with its unique features makes for strong case. The Xcent is loaded to the gills with the features and convenience bits and the Dzire is backed up by solid presence in the market and the best after-sales service.

It definitely seems to be a daunting task to choose from these 5 compact sedans, if you were to buy one. If you are patient, we will soon come up with a comprehensive road test that will help you make a conscious, informed decision. Not to forget the fact that Volkswagen will soon throw its trump card by launching the Ameo in the very near future. Keep your eyes peeled for this one then.
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