By the time I swung into the driver’s seat of the all new Maruti Suzuki Dzire, there was precious little we didn’t know about the car. How could we not? Keen to ensure that we all understood that this was a significant step up over the previous iteration of the car, India’s largest passenger car maker had taken us through the salient features of the new Dzire not only at a pre-launch preview but also at the time of the vehicle’s market introduction.
We knew that there would be two engine options – the 1.2-litre K Series petrol and the 1.3 DDiS diesel engine. We also knew that there would be two transmission options for each of those two variants – a five-speed manual and an Auto Gear Shift (AGS) or automated manual transmission. So, that’s a total of four variants. A petrol with with a five-speed manual and an AGS version; similarly, a diesel with a manual or AGS. We also knew that Maruti would kit it out with as much equipment as possible to make sure that people are willing to part with the relatively high price that the company is asking for. There is however one crucial aspect that we had no clue about. What it would be like to drive the all new Maruti Suzuki Dzire.
What is it?
This is the new generation of the venerable Dzire and it’s based on the all-new Swift that we have seen Suzuki showcase in Geneva earlier this year. So, like its hatchback version, the Dzire shares its Heartec platform with the Baleno that has been raking in the moolah for Maruti and giving the Hyundai Elite i20 stiff competition. The advantage of this platform is that it is extremely light and therefore, the new Dzire has shed a full 85 kilos.
The dimensions are also somewhat altered and the new Dzire is now wider and sits lower with a 163mm ground clearance (seven less than before). The car therefore looks low slung and more dynamic. External styling of course is all new and the new one just about resembles the old car to ensure that we know it shares the same lineage. The increase in width has also released extra shoulder room while the increase in wheelbase (with no accompanying increase in overall length) releases extra leg and knee room.
The interiors are now a dual tone affair with beige and grey interacting with chrome inserts and faux wood garnish. The wood’s there on the steering wheel too but is forgiven the transgression on account of being a sporty looking flat bottomed unit. Overall, the quality of materials used inside is also superior than what we have seen thus far in the Dzire.
Fun to drive…
I’m not sure that’s the purpose of this compact sedan. People don’t really buy the Dzire to carve up and down hills with silly grins pasted on their faces. This car’s intent is to take people from point A to B as efficiently as possible and in as much comfort as can be afforded at that price. Driving pleasure, if any, is usually an afterthought. On the first two counts, the Dzire acquits itself beautifully. It has a superb ride quality and will see you over all sorts of road irregularities without even a shake of its head. Unless you’re talking triple digit speeds of course. Once past 120kmph you will find the car beginning to oscillate over even mildly undulating surfaces.
Handling is frankly, par for the course. Nothing to write home about; the Dzire deserves neither brickbats nor unnecessary praise. The steering wheel is mildly vague, especially at dead centre, which makes tight turns at high speeds a little unsettling, but straights and sweepers aren’t problems. Thanks to the weight reduction, acceleration is brisk and only the AGS versions feel a little restricted with their shift-shocks in kick down mode. The latter is especially relevant to the diesel AGS.
Value for money
The money for the Dzire has gone up and a quick check on Google will tell you it is one of the more expensive compact sedans out there. That also implies that the value you get for the increased money should have increased. And it has, the extra space, the improvement in quality of materials in the cabin, improvement in overall fit and finish and the added efficiency and performance, courtesy the lower weight all add up to better value for money. So, we would think that the new Maruti Suzuki Dzire now makes a better case for itself than it did with the previous version of the car.
Full review of the Maruti Suzuki Dzire in the June issue of evo India