Maruti Suzuki Dzire AGS Review: R-N-D

  • Feb 24, 2016
[caption id="attachment_19544" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire AGS Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire AGS[/caption]

An automated manual transmission (AMT) with a diesel 1.3 Multijet unit? Seems like an interesting proposition doesn't it. Especially when traffic jams and long hours behind the wheel are part of your daily commute. This concoction is a result of the huge demand for oil burners and automatic transmissions in our market. The 1.3-litre diesel-powered Swift Dzire AMT is Maruti Suzuki's simple solution to meet these demands and it doesn't come with the premium usually associated with cars with automatic transmission.Now, options for an affordable diesel AMT are very limited and restricted to some segments, but this is when Maruti Suzuki thought of putting an automated manual transmission in India’s largest selling compact sedan – Maruti Suzuki DZire. For the uninitiated, an automated manual transmission is similar to an automatic transmission in any vehicle without the exorbitant cost and minus the smoothness of course. AMT gearbox is basically a normal gearbox but the clutch engagements and gear shifts happen through a device.

Now, options for an affordable diesel AMT in the compact sedan segment are very limited and this is where Maruti Suzuki has managed to score over its competitors by adding an AMT gearbox to the largest selling compact sedan in India. For the uninitiated, an automated manual transmission or AMT is similar to an automatic transmission but without the exorbitant costs involved in making auto boxes. An AMT gearbox is similar to a manual transmission but here the clutch is operated by a device instead of human input. The only downside to the system is the lack of smoothness while changing gears. Come to think of it, Maruti has designed what could be, from a very personal point-of-view, the best offering in the segment.

While being handed over the keys to the DZire, I was kind of sceptical. Not because of my first experience with an AMT , but from the idea of how the three-box will perform with an AMT. Slightly tuned for a diesel, courtesy Magneti Marelli, it is almost the same unit that does its duty in the Celerio.

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[caption id="attachment_19552" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Side Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Side[/caption]

It would really take close attention to understand if there are any changes on the outside. And besides the 'Auto Gear Shift' badging, there isn't anything to set it apart from the regular DZire. The Swift DZire carries its signature silhouette with a broad front fascia, swept-back headlamps and a contemporary look that has somewhat matured over the years since its inception. A few chrome inserts and a redesigned  headlamp unit give the compact sedan a more modern look but, overall, nothing new has been added to the AMT variant specifically. Move over to the side and the DZire carries the straight and taut shoulder lines complementing the contemporary design of the car. The rear carries forward the silhouette and the entire packaging is well put except the boot, which may take time getting used to.



[caption id="attachment_19546" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Interior Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Interior[/caption]

The inside of the Swift DZire, like its exterior, carries a contemporary design. A well-laid-out dashboard with all the boxes, in terms of convenience and features, ticked to offer maximum comfort while on the go. The Swift DZire AMT has a simple to use infotainment system with a four speaker setup that offers decent sound quality and Bluetooth connectivity that is very easy to pair with your smartphone. Sound quality on the receiving end while calling is also decent. There are some nice bits inside like the electronically foldable mirrors with electric adjustment, all four power windows that offer anti-pinch for the driver side and a start-stop button. So, basically, almost everything that is present in the Ciaz is now comes standard in the top-end trim of the DZire. We do feel that the infotainment of the Ciaz should also be given as an option for customers of this segment, after all the DZire has grown into many households after getting on with almost every rental car agency throughout India.

[caption id="attachment_19547" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Start-Stop Button Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Start-Stop Button[/caption]

What really surprised me was the interior. Despite being the same since its inception in 2012, the interior looks refreshing and well-equipped. The beige and black combination complements the contemporary design of the cabin. The seats could use some better bolstering and under thigh support but that is considering my six feet plus frame. Otherwise, leg room and seating is good for an average height of 5'8". Seating four adults would be fine, but three on the rear bench will be a tight squeeze. The leg room in the rear is not very expansive. DZire is widely used for ferrying passengers throughout the country but space is not something that the car can boast about. Also, the quality of the fabric used on the seats are not very upmarket, for a car that costs this much!

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Engine & Performance

Now this is a department where the 1.3-litre Multijet oil-burner is a proven workhorse. Mated to a five-speed Magneti Marelli AMT unit, the compact sedan delivers seamless gear changes on a light throttle with a very responsive gearbox. There is a slight feel of the gear change if the input becomes heavier, but rest assured the judder is not discomforting.

If a sudden heavy input is applied, the gear shift happens quick but there is a considerable jerk. While overtaking on the highway, I depressed the pedal all the way to the floor. From fifth, the car immediately downshifted to fourth gear at about 80kmph but the AMT sometimes has the tendency to down shift two gears as well (depending on speeds). Personally, it did become somewhat intimidating. That said, it makes overtaking at high speeds much quicker.

[caption id="attachment_19549" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Engine Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Engine[/caption]

You do take some time to get used to the AMT gearbox. I found a sweet spot between the gear shifts that make life much easier and the drive a lot smoother. While accelerating, whenever you think the car should change a gear, try lifting your right foot momentarily from the pedal, the gear shift happens much smoother this way. This trick makes the DZire behave like a manual vehicle but without using your left foot and hand.
There is also a manual mode, which will give your enthusiastic soul some calmness but as there is no third pedal, it does not exactly act as a manual car. It still has some limitations but is not a bad choice at all!

Now, the efficiency bit where Maruti is best known to be a pioneer of sorts. The car returned a good 18 kilometres to a litre which is pretty impressive for an automated manual transmission. Overall, I loved trotting about town and doing three digit speeds on the highway covering about 300 kilometres in my three day stint with the DZire. The DZire is the most efficient AMT vehicle in India with an ARAI certification of 26.6 km/l.

Ride and handling

Coming to the ride bit of the compact sedan, I must commend Maruti for bolting on the DZire very well. The ride is not supple, but not hard as well. It is a well-planted setup that offers good high-speed mannerisms and even better low-speed ride quality.

[caption id="attachment_19548" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS[/caption]

Throw the DZire into a corner hard and you would be surprised to see how well the car handles. Although, it does not have a sports car enthusiasm or setup and does have slight understeer, but body roll is very minimal and the compact sedan can hold its own pretty well. Steering isn’t too light and requires some amount of effort at low speeds.

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[caption id="attachment_19550" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Steering Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Steering[/caption]

Considering that the compact sedan segment has matured over time, the DZire AMT is a safe place to be in. The car is equipped with dual front airbags and ABS with EBD which is the basic standard in today's day and age. The DZire Auto Gear Shift also has crumple zones to cocoon you in safety.


[caption id="attachment_19551" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Headlamp Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Headlamp[/caption]

The bang-for-buck segment is really competitive with almost every car maker in this space wanting a piece of the pie and offering various engine as well as transmission options. And currently, the AMT diesel versions in the compact sedan segment are those of the Tata Zest and Maruti Suzuki DZire. It is a no-brainer when buying a Maruti in a mass market segment and DZire is an apt vehicle in its segment as a second car for my household.

[caption id="attachment_19545" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Rear Quarter Angle Maruti Suzuki DZire AGS Rear Quarter Angle[/caption]

It has best of both the worlds - you can save on the running costs with the diesel engine and at the same time enjoy the convenience of automatic gearshifts. The DZire has a come a long way and with the AMT, it has become an even more 'desirable' choice. The package is very well balanced and at Rs. 8.40 Lakh ex-showroom Delhi, this one ticks all the right boxes for the perfect automatic diesel for city runabouts.

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