The Maruti Suzuki Dzire has gone from just being India’s highest selling sedan to one of the most versatile options on the market. It promises more space and comfort than before and offers petrol and diesel engines which are available with the option of automated manual transmissions (AMT). It also gets essential safety features as standard and with its bigger cabin, promises to be a better family car than its predecessor. We put the diesel manual variant through a 1,000km test to see if the new and more expensive Dzire is indeed better, and if so, by how much?
The new Dzire (no longer called Swift Dzire) has been built on Suzuki’s global Heartect platform, and it is related to the upcoming Swift, but it is no longer a hatch with a boot added onto it. By customising the design for the Dzire, the result is very well-proportioned and quite simply, it looks like a purpose-built sedan since the boot blends well with the body lines.
It’s also feature-loaded. Apart from modern must-haves like a smart key with passive keyless entry and 15-inch alloy wheels, you even get LED tail lights and segment-first features like LED projector headlights. Also, the daytime running LEDs have not only been nicely integrated, they’re also surprisingly bright and make the Dzire easy to identify in the rear view mirror.
For an in-depth look at the Dzire’s exterior, check out our detailed first drive review.
Maruti has smartly reworked the cabin to make it look more premium and everything is laid out in a manner that’s easy to understand. Even the controls fall to hand easily. The wow factor in the cabin feels very genuine and not forced. For instance, the faux wood trim on the dashboard looks and feels right, not plasticky or gimmicky. You still get a beige and black dual tone interior which helps create a more upmarket air.
The interior quality is certainly better than before and it does feel premium. That said, it doesn’t give you the same upmarket experience as the Volkswagen Ameo, nor does the build feel as rich as the Hyundai Xcent’s.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a nice touch and feels great to grip but simple touches could’ve made it better. For example, we’d skip the wood trim on it. Also, instead of using two protruding stalks to control the MID on the instrument cluster, Maruti could have employed the empty space on the right side of the steering for a button operated setup.
Nitpicking aside, the cabin does come well-equipped. The highlight is the SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, apart from MirrorLink. It’s also the only unit in the segment to feature in-built navigation and as we’ve seen in other Maruti cars, it offers smooth touch-response and is very user-friendly to operate.
You also get steering-mounted controls to manage phone calls, use the infotainment system or even voice commands. The 6-speaker (4 speaker + 2 tweeters) sound system offers clear sound quality and even manages some base-heavy soundtracks well. However, if you like your music really LOUD, an upgrade is recommended. It tends to blare a bit at really high volumes while the speaker insulation isn’t enough to control vibes at full blast. Lest we forget, apart from automatic climate control, you also get rear AC vents and a mobile phone app to control the infotainment system, making it that much better as a chauffeur-driven car.
A major change in the new Dzire is its larger and more accommodating cabin. It’s easily among the best compact sedans to seat 5 adults in, with the most shoulder room and knee room in the segment. Since the car is 40mm shorter in height, the rear seat headroom has dropped. However, it’s still enough for someone who is up to 6ft tall. While the new Dzire has a lower roofline, getting in and out of the cabin is easy as the doors open wide and there’s enough space to step in.
For an in-depth look at the Dzire’s interior and features, check out our detailed first drive review.
(Disclaimer: All test figures have been derived on wet roads)
The Dzire gets no brand new engines. So the diesel version in both, its manual and AMT avatars, employs a 1.3-litre, 4-cylinder engine that makes 75PS of power and 190Nm of torque. This engine may be old but Maruti has been at work to ensure that it still doesn’t disappoint.
At start up, it’s very obvious that there’s a diesel engine under the bonnet and there is some audible clatter even if you have the AC and music system running. However, while there are some vibrations when the engine fires up, they do smoothen out quickly.
Now, we were expecting the Dzire to feel a little annoying to drive in the city, given this engine’s reputation for turbo-lag.
However, it felt quite relaxed and easy even in stop go traffic. Yes, it still isn’t as responsive at low rpms as the Hyundai Xcent’s 1.2-litre diesel, but Maruti has managed to deliver decent responsiveness even when the turbo isn’t giving its full punch. Also, the motor is aided by the light weight of the car itself, which ranges between 955-990kg. All of its direct rivals weigh at least a little over 1 ton. While this helps make up for the lack of torque at low rpms, when you want to make a move in a hurry, even for overtaking at low-speeds, you will have to downshift. As you can see, the Dzire’s 30-80kmph acceleration test (in third gear) took 11 seconds. That’s nearly 2 seconds slower than the equally powerful and torquey Hyundai Xcent.
As you pick up the pace, you find that the motor isn’t nearly as punchy as the Ford Aspire or Volkswagen Ameo’s 1.5-litre units, but it’s far from underpowered. The car manages to get up to highway speeds without much effort, with a 0-100kmph time of 13.03 seconds. For reference, the only cars in the segment that beat it are the Aspire (10.75 seconds) and the Ameo (11.64 seconds), both of which, get bigger and more powerful engines. Overtaking on the highway needs some planning and ideally, you should be ready to make a downshift to keep the engine where it feels the most punchy, above 2,000rpm.
All said and done, though, the Dzire still offers good all-round drivability and not only is its claimed fuel efficiency figure of 28.4kmpl the highest in the segment, even the real world tests saw it top the charts, delivering 28.09kmpl on the highway and 19.05kmpl in the city. The Xcent follows closely behind with a tested highway efficiency of 25.23kmpl and 19.04kmpl in the city.
The Dzire always offered a competent ride and handling package and the new car improves on that. On smooth roads, the ride is plush and comfortable and it stays stable even north of 120kmph. The suspension remains compliant over the worst of roads and only over very deep potholes do you feel any harshness. On uneven surfaces, there’s no bounciness to the ride and even if you exit a really bad pothole, the car gains composure immediately. To top it off, the suspension seems to work noiselessly, making the cabin feel all the more relaxing.
The handling package is reasonably engaging. It feels light and agile through corners and the steering is quite responsive. However, we have to point out that the older car had a more responsive steering and while the difference isn’t stark, it is noticeable.
Apart from featuring ABS as standard now, the braking power itself is quite strong. In the 100-0kmph panic brake test, the car came to a dead halt in 45.79 metres, taking 3.74 seconds for the job – that’s among the lowest braking distances in the segment!
All variants of the new Dzire come equipped with dual front airbags and ABS along with ISOFIX child seat mounts as standard. The V grades add kit like speed-sensitive auto door locks, a day/night interior rear view mirror and an anti-theft alarm. The Z grades take it a notch further with features like rear parking sensors, a rear defogger, front fog lamps and an anti-pinch driver’s side window. The Z+ variants are the only ones that get a rear parking camera.
The Maruti Dzire is a more competent and likeable package than the car before it. Yes, it does share its engine options and certain interior parts with its predecessor but it’s now one of the best family sedans thanks to its spacious cabin and improved features list. It also gets essential safety features right from the base variant which is a major selling point in our books.
The diesel engine’s turbo-lag has been improved upon and it’s not just very efficient on paper but in the real world as well. It also offers an easy to live with suspension setup, being comfortable when you want to relax and engaging enough when you’re looking to have some fun. While the Dzire was always the car to beat in the segment, the Maruti badge had a lot to do with its success. Now, though, even as a product stand alone, it deserves to sit right on top of your shopping list.
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