2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire - First Drive: Review
- by Jagdev Kalsi
- May 25, 2017
- Views : 53168
Is the new Dzire a better balance of form and function than its predecessor?
The Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire has been the best-selling car in its segment ever since it was launched in 2008. Its previous generations were never attractive but they did a lot of things right, and that's the reason behind the model's strong sales numbers. If there was one chink it was that the first generation was an overzealous attempt at gifting the Swift a sedan-like boot, and the second one was a pointed attempt at making it a sub-four-metre car. But there was one thing common between both – the Swift Dzire was never pretty or desirable. The new generation Dzire looks like it is making amends. It's also the first Dzire that wants to break free from the Swift tag. By offering six automatic variants the Dzire makes itself a lot more desirable now. Safety features like ABS & dual front airbags too are now standard across the range. So, does the new Dzire have it in it to better its predecessors on practicality and score high on both form and function? Let's find out
The new Maruti Suzuki Dzire is based on the next generation Swift that should come to India by the end of FY 2017-18. However it's only the front that it borrows from the hatchback, and of course, the platform as well. Unlike the previous generations, the new Dzire is a completely different car from the new Swift A-pillar onwards. Also Read - Maruti Suzuki Dzire vs Baleno vs Brezza
The countenance is purposeful with muscle at the right places on the bonnet and the wheel arches. The hexagonal front grille is also short and wide, and it all adds to make the Dzire look broad. Chrome work is generous on the front grille, below the fog lamp housing and even in the headlamp unit, but it doesn't look overdone. In fact, the quality of chrome is so good that it would match the finish on cars twice its price. Unfortunately, Maruti Suzuki offers LED projectors and DRLs on the top ZXi+ variant only, so the lower variants get reflector headlamp units that tone down the aggression a bit.
The muscle on the bonnet is carried on to the front fender and a sharp shoulder line weaves through from the front to the rear. A pinched character line at the lower end breaks the monotony of what would otherwise be a plain design. The A-pillar onwards, the Dzire looks more sedan-like in profile with the roof flowing from the A-pillar to the C-pillar smoothly. The proportions are better too, as Maruti Suzuki has increased the width by 40mm and reduced the roof height by 40mm. However, the ground clearance is reduced only by by 7mm, down to 163mm now. So, while the Dzire will tackle the speed breakers of different sizes with ease, sharp gradient changes may require you to double check the front overhang before committing to them. Also Read - Maruti Dzire Vs Sub-Four Metre Rivals - Spec Comparison
Unlike the front design that imparts the Dzire a big-car appeal, the rear is usual business as far as compact car designs go. Nonetheless, it is a step forward as the boot is now better integrated into the C-pillar and doesn't look like an afterthought. It's stubby with the bumper hardly extending any mass beyond the boot lid. The arc-shaped lip is Ciaz-like now. Importantly, the Dzire now not only looks proportionate but is also pleasing to the eye.
The Dzire's cabin makes you feel that the car is built around you no matter where you are sitting. The driver's seat is comfortable with adequate under-thigh support and side bolstering; both marked improvements over the previous-gen. Thoughtful touches like a slightly tilted (towards the driver) infotainment system, chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel with recesses at the right places and easily readable white-backlit instrument cluster make you feel at-home driving the Dzire. Start nitpicking, and the two things you'd miss are centre armrest and dead-pedal, but the ergonomics are so sorted that you may let them go off without complaining.
The interior is a two-tone beige-black affair with a dose of wooden trim on the dashboard, steering wheel and door armrests. It may look a bit overdone at first sight, especially on the steering wheel, but the finish is sober, and quality is good, so you get used to it quickly. The dashboard design is new, and it's been sculpted carefully so as to maximise leg space for the front passenger. The legroom does come at the cost of storage space in the glovebox, but it's still a bargain in my opinion. As an existing Maruti owner I am somewhat concerned that the the hard and shiny plastic surfaces on the dash which tend to rattle in the long run also reflect light on the front windscreen under harsh sunlight. Also Read - Maruti Suzuki Dzire: Old vs New Variant Wise Comparison
Get into the rear seat, and the Dzire continues to make you feel special. There is acres of room inside, and the credit goes to the new platform and some really intelligent space utilisation. The wheelbase of the new Dzire is up by 20mm, but Maruti says that the rear legroom has increased by 55mm. Forget numbers, the Dzire's back seat is unbelievably spacious, so much so that for an instance you might even forget how compact this car is on the outside. Rear legroom in a small car is generally inversely proportional to the seat width, but having spent quality time at the rear, I was happy with the overall experience.
The seats are well sculpted too and offer just the right amount of bolstering. You sink into it ever so slightly, and the back angle is set to a position that is neither too upright nor too inclined. The rear is, however, best for two people only. The seat-back cushion is slightly lifted in the middle, and the centre armrest too makes for a relatively hard seat back. Transmission tunnel also eats up some space and three at the rear brush shoulders. Short rides will, however, be manageable.
Like the front, there are some thoughtful touches that improve the rear seat experience as well. You get rear AC vents, a 12V socket placed in the middle, centre armrest with two cup holders, bottle holders in both the doors and adjustable rear headrests. So, is the Dzire's rear seat as perfect as it could be? Well, it almost gives you the best experience possible. However, people who're tall (like comfortably over 6 feet) may get too close to the roof for comfort. The rear seat is also too close to the rear windscreen, which may have been done to offer maximum cabin space. Those who're short may find the rear a bit claustrophobic owing to a high set but small side windows. But all these are only minute niggles that are easy to live with. Also Read - All New Maruti Suzuki Dzire Launched At Rs 5.45 Lakh
Maruti Suzuki deserves a big round of applause for offering six automatic variants in the new Dzire. The AMT tech not just offers gearless convenience but also doesn't compromise fuel economy, and of course, keeps the sticker price in check too! With multiple automatic variants on offer, the Dzire AMT will be accessible to a wider set of buyers.
The second-gen Swift Dzire too was equipped with an AMT paired with the diesel engine. Both the engine & the gearbox are carried forward in the new Dzire but are calibrated differently. This results in smoother gearshifts. So, while the AMT still takes its own good time to upshift or downshift, the cabin experience is slightly richer than before as the head nod that accompanied every gear change previously is now subdued, but it's still there.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine makes 75PS of max power at 4000rpm & 190Nm of peak torque at 2000rpm. The continuous torque surge makes the diesel Dzire a great mile muncher with very less downshifts required to make quick progress. When out on the highways, it's best to use AMT in the semi-manual mode for downshifting to time the overtakes better, and also to hold upshifts and utilise the power band to spring back to three-digit speeds. In normal driving conditions the AMT is keen to upshift early. The artificial intelligence prompts the ‘box to upshift below 3000rpm on medium throttle input.
It does, however, hit the redline before upshifting with the A-pedal completely depressed. The AMT's party trick is the creep function which allows you to pull the car forward from nought in the second gear. It's like moving in traffic on half a clutch. Try doing that on the manual Dzire to realise the importance of an automatic. So, while the diesel manual Dzire should continue to munch miles, the AMT-diesel is now better suited for frequent city spins.
But the powertrain of the moment should go to the petrol-AMT combination. The 1.2-litre (83PS, 113Nm) petrol engine is a refined unit, and it was there on-duty in the Swift Dzire as well. The engine is the same, but it comes with the 5-speed AMT now instead of the 4-speed torque converter (and there's a 5-speed manual as well). The drive experience of the petrol-AMT combination is plush thanks to low NVH levels and smooth gear shifts. The gear shift quality may not be as silky as in the Ignis petrol-AMT (same engine-transmission combo), but it won't give you a dramatic head-nod moment you'd associate with AMTs in general.
Talking about the engine characteristics, there's torque on offer starting from low revs, and the band is quite wide as well. So, you can hold it in one gear higher without any resistance from the engine to downshift. The engine is also happy cruising all day long, with the 100kmph ticking at about 2800rpm in the fifth gear and max torque range still 1400rpm away. The gearing is tall although the engine doesn't quite like to be revved to its limit. So, it's possible to go well past the three digit mark in the third gear, but that won't satisfy you as much as chugging it around its max torque range will, where it sounds the sportiest.
On the whole, the Dzire is still focused on covering maximum distance using minimum fuel. The engines were already fuel efficient, and reduction in weight has further helped matters. That doesn't take away the Dzire's engaging-to-drive nature, especially diesel's, that shows eagerness to roll on thanks to the turbocharger unit. The petrol engine also has a new role to play now, and that is to offer a superlative drive experience owing to the AMT two-pedal tech and high refinement levels.
Ride, Handling & Braking
If I were to rate the most significant high points of the new Dzire, its ride comfort would come a close second after its interior space; it's that unbelievable. Three key areas show significant improvement – the damping, the steering steadiness and robustness while tackling bigger potholes. The additional weight of the diesel Dzire lets the suspension setup deal with road uncertainties with aplomb. The characteristic can be experienced at both low and high speeds, and it ups the plushness of the cabin. The steering is also steadier now in and maintains its centre position when going over rough patches without much driver effort, which builds the driver confidence. The third, and the most common of the complaints associated with Maruti cars – that of crashing into the potholes, has also been addressed. The Dzire goes over uneven surfaces and even bigger uncertainties without any harshness.
The new Dzire is built on Suzuki's Heartect platform which is more rigid than the one on which it was based before. Apart from it passing the crash tests, it also improves the stability. The Dzire feels more planted now than before at speeds closer to three digits. While the platform makes it stable, the steering starts to get lighter with an increase in speed and makes it a nervous handler. At low speeds, the same steering feels better weighed. Braking is one department that doesn't see any improvement. The Dzire still lacks the initial bite, and speed sheds only when you press the B-pedal hard. So, while the Dzire maintains composure under hard braking, it's still not confidence inspiring.
The new Dzire is certainly a significant improvement over the previous Swift Dzire, but the decision to offer the option of AMT in three variants (V variant onwards) with both engines can be a game changer in the budget sedan segment. It makes the Dzire the most fuel efficient automatic sedan and also one of the most affordable automatic sedans on sale in India. The Dzire petrol AMT starts from Rs 6.76 lakh and goes up to Rs 8.41 lakh. The Dzire diesel AMT starts from Rs 7.76 lakh and goes up to Rs 9.41 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi).
Maruti Suzuki has widened the appeal of the Dzire by having ironed out the major shortcomings of the previous Swift Dzire – interior space and looks. The new Dzire looks premium inside-out and has enough equipment to match its appeal. Undoubtedly, the price has gone up too. However, the lower variants are still competitive and it now comes with ABS and airbags as standard.
The higher variants bring with them a sense of affordable luxury and carry the burden of filling the void that the Ciaz has left in Maruti Suzuki showrooms. Needless to say, the Dzire looks promising to fill it. The Dzire looks in shape to take off from where the Swift Dzire left. There are niggles but only for those who nitpick. The new Dzire looks ready to live up to its name, finally.