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Volkswagen Vento vs Maruti Suzuki SX4 Diesel vs FIAT Linea : Comparison
When was the last time you wished you drove a diesel? Just this morning at the fuel station? Nothing to fault with that, the pinch felt while shelling out more money per litre for a fuel that still does not carry you as far a diesel would, is universal and understandable. Diesel as a fuel for private vehicles is seriously coming into its own, and Maruti Suzuki could not have timed the introduction of the DDiS mill in its city sedan better. A move from the country's top carmaker can seldom be ignored, but after all, this is just an engine transplant, right? How much can it really change for a car that has for long been taunted by its hatch-backed stablemates since it couldn't match them in numbers? Besides, while the Honda City may have made life difficult through its three generations for its petrol-powered compact sedan rivals, weren't the Europeans always better with diesels?
Clearly, it’s a tough field that the SX4 DDiS plans to wade through. On one hand there is Fiat Linea Multijet, the popular diesel sedan which can pocket the biggest credit for reviving the Italian powerhouse in India. On the other there is the Volkswagen Vento TDI, based on a World Car of the Year winner – a properly plush car and an all-round performer. But then, few would wish to put their money against Maruti when it comes to understanding the Indian buyer, and giving him the value and peace of mind that he craves from his cars. Set this face-off up in the curious compact sedan boxing ring - where buyers are not willing to part with good sense and practicality, but also wish to have a feeling of being pampered when inside and being appreciated from passers by on the outside - and you have an oil-burning battle royale. On to the ringing bell then.
A question of image
To the outsides first. All three cars have been around for quite a while, but lined up one against another it is easy to see which car would appeal to what sort of buyer. Classical lines with a good dose of stylish details, the Linea remains a good looker that would appeal to most tastes. There are a few unflattering bits like the plastic grille upfront, but this is definitely not a car one would mind being seen stepping out of. The Maruti Suzuki SX4 on the other hand looks like it was built for India from the word go. That's because, well, it was. It carries a decided tall-boy air around itself, which has been cleverly disguised by bulging fenders and aggressive cues. It makes no excuses about being classy or elegant, but it makes up for it with an unconventional and bold approach to design, which Indian streets have now warmed up to. The Vento, finally, looks like a million bucks. Despite being made just for India and Russia, the Vento has the maximum Euro-appeal to it through its style – even more than the Linea. In fact, the harmonious proportions, rakish windscreen and taut, swept back lines are something that even the Linea's Italian designers could take a leaf out of.
Speaking of interiors, none of the three cars manage to impress, unfortunately. The Linea has too much happening on the centre console, while both the SX4 and the Vento have too little. The quality of materials used in the Vento though is impressive, and falls well in line with the car’s upmarket European appeal. Build quality all-round is also better on the German sedan as compared to the other two cars. A case has to be made though for the SX4’s seats, which are cushy, comfy and well designed for the drivers of all ages. All in all, this round of image and appeal is won by the Vento, with a decent margin.