Maruti Suzuki Dzire 3rd Gen

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BY
VIVEK VENUGOPAL

February 21

The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire is quintessentially the car that defines the sub 4 metre sedan segment. It found its way to over a million and half homes all over the country. The previous generation was so successful in fact, during certain months, sales surpassed the Alto, making it the largest selling car in the country. However it had one big flaw. It was never meant to look good. The first generation had a bulbous boot and the second gen felt like it was chopped off before it was even finished. Every time, the proportions were a bit odd and it looked too much like a Swift with a boot added on as an afterthought. Which it was.

Enter the new Dzire. For the first time, they have differentiated it from the Swift which spawns it. The A pillar dismisses the wraparound look and is more curved where it meets the roof. The glass area is more sedan than hatchback. The rear windscreen is no longer sharpely raked and it flows gently into the boot lid, which now looks larger thanks to its top edges extending all the way into the C pillar. The proportions are one of the best in the sub 4 metre sedan category. It looks like it was designed to be a sub 4 metre sedan from day one. They have even dropped the Swift badging and it is simply called the Dzire now. Most important of all, they launched it before the Swift so no comparisons are drawn between the two.

Styling is on the safe side, yet the front end is bound to polarize opinions. The wide open grille with its thick chrome surround is straddled by nicely shaped headlamps with DRLs inside. The side profile is curved and smooth with no pronounced shoulder line or sharp creases, while the rear will not be mistaken for anything but a Maruti. Like the headlamps, the tail lamps have LEDs too. The polished face alloy wheels have a busy design, but will appeal to the masses.

Inside, things get even better with modern looking dashboard, well designed controls and layout. The interplay of black and beige is only broken by the small wood finish trim that runs across the middle. The steering feels remarkably similar to the one in a Jaguar. It is flat bottomed and good to hold, but has too much wood finish on it, to my liking. While the dashboard quality is not far improved from the old Dzire, the switches and knobs with their weighting and chrome surrounds feel premium enough. Maruti’s now familiar infotainment system finds its way to the Dzire too, and is easy to operate. The instrument gauges look great, the ergonomics are good and there are many practical spaces inside the cabin. The front seats are much softer and wider than the outgoing model.

The increase in wheelbase to 2450mm has liberated even more legroom at the back, which is very impressive for the segment. The seating position is good, though we wish it had more headroom at the rear. Boot space has gone up to 378 litres and it is better shaped than before.

Powering the Dzire are the familiar 1.2L petrol and 1.3L diesel engines from the Swift, Ignis and the Baleno. The petrol engine makes 83bhp and 113Nm torque and is a smooth performer. It is a willing performer and coupled to the 860kg weight, makes the car so sprightly. It comes with the option of an AMT (Automated Manual) gearbox too. The presence of the fourth cylinder in the 1.2 block makes the power delivery much more balanced than, say in a Celerio. This makes the AMT shift up and down lesser, giving you a smoother driving experience than what we have seen in those 3 cylinder applications. On top of that, Maruti engineers have been busy perfecting the AMT technology and their hardwork shows. Their latest boxes work much better in terms of clutch engagement, shifting algorithm and holding you on a slope.

The 75bhp Fiat derived 1.3litre diesel comes with an AMT option too, combining the convenience of an automatic with the economy of a diesel. It develops 190Nm torque along with great midrange power and is great on the highway. The slight delay in gear changes of an AMT, coupled with the inherent turbo lag of that diesel engine means you might resort to shifting gears manually for quick overtaking moves. Other than that, there is nothing to complain about the diesel automatic version.

I could put the Dzire through its paces on a winding bit of road. Despite the suspension so tuned for comfort, there was adequate grip and balance on offer. Sure, there was some body roll and you’d wish if the steering provided a bit more weight and feedback; but overall handling impresses. The lower kerb weight also helps it in the corners. If the Dzire is this good, I can’t wait to see the upcoming Swift. Ride quality is greatly improved over the older car, with only the sharpest of bumps upsetting the composure on broken roads. Brakes felt good too with the top spec cars wearing 185/65R15 tyres.

It takes a lot of hard work to replace the second largest selling car in India – one that sells more than all its competitors put together, but Maruti sure has done it. The Dzire is not only bigger, lighter and faster than the old car, it is also better in every possible way. It comes loaded with features, has ample space, decent boot and a pair of competent engines. It rides beautifully over bad roads and the handling is still entertaining. What’s more, ABS and airbag as standard across the range and not limited to just the top end trim. With prices ranging from Rs.5.45 to Rs.9.41 (Ex.showroom Delhi), they sure are to run out of order forms for this one.

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BY VIVEK VENUGOPAL

ASSISTANT FASHION EDITOR

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