Analysis shows that the sedan segment is shrinking in favour of SUVs and crossovers. But when the car in question is the Maruti Dzire, this statistic is thrown right outside the window. Maruti has sold over 1.38 million units of Dzire till date and now they have come out with a brand-new model. You might ask why replace a car that is already doing so well? Well Maruti doesn’t want to rest on its laurels and with the revived threat from the refreshed Hyundai Xcent, it was the ideal time to go for the kill.
To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed when I first saw the new Dzire in pictures. But in the flesh, this compact sedan comes across as more matured, well-balanced and is a huge leap over the older, oddly proportioned car. In fact the new Dzire doesn’t look like a compromise anymore and clearly it was designed to be both a hatch as well as a compact sedan. Upfront the gaping grille flanked by the teardrop headlamps gives it loads of presence. Even from the rear, it looks fuller thanks to the strong shoulder-line and the well detailed LED tail lamps. The biggest improvement though is in profile, where the new Dzire now gets a well defined three-box shape and the beautifully detailed 15 inch alloy wheels and the swooping roofline adds to the elegant design.
The Dzire is based on the Baleno platform and the main target for the engineers was to keep body mass as low as possible. As a result, it is around 80kg lighter than the outgoing model despite being larger. This was achieved using high-tensile steel and other modern methods. The new Dzire is 40mm wider and also sits on a wheelbase which is 20mm longer than before.
How is it on the inside?
Like the elegant exterior, the cabin of the new Dzire looks more mature and upmarket. The layered dashboard is uncluttered with the large touchscreen infotainment system dominating proceedings. The touchscreen system on the top ZDi+ variant also features Apple CarPlay and the screen itself is crisp and functionality is easy too. The leather wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel is great to hold and the faux wood finish looks convincing too. Quality has improved considerably over the old car and choice of materials and panel gaps are much more consistent than before. But the Hyundai Xcent still holds an edge as far as fit and finish is concerned and things like the glove box opening, door pad materials and attention to detail is not as good.
Thanks to the larger footprint the roomy cabin doesn’t come as a surprise. The front seats are big, supportive and have acres of legroom. Thanks to the height-adjustable driver seat and the steering which adjusts for rake, finding an ideal driving position is easy. Even at the rear, the sense of space is really good and three adults can sit in decent comfort. The rear bench is well shaped and the backrest angle is ideal too. The addition of AC vents at the rear enhances the rear seat experience further and now the Dzire works well as a chauffeur driven car too. On the downside the seat squab is on the shorter side (compromises thigh support), the seat cushioning is too soft and headroom especially for tall passengers is limited. There are plenty of storage spaces in the cabin in form of four bottle holders, four cup holders and multiple cubbies for knick-knacks, but the glove box is a bit too shallow and it doesn’t get cooling function too. The boot at 376 litres is big and the large boot opening makes loading large bags quite easy too.
In the top ZDi+ trim the Dzire comes equipped with touchscreen infotainment system which houses Apple CarPlay, navigation and a music system. Apart from this the Dzire gets all the basics like climate control, key-less go, reverse camera with sensors, auto headlamps, daytime running lamps and a comprehensive trip computer flanked by a fantastic new instrumentation. In terms of safety, Maruti sets a new benchmark by offering two airbags and ABS as standard across the range. The new Dzire is also compliant with the upcoming safety norms, which adds to its feel-good factor.
How does it drive?
The Dzire diesel comes with the same 1.3 litre 74bhp Fiat-sourced Multijet engine. Although there is no jump in power figures, the new Dzire being significantly lighter helps improve its overall performance. Twist the key and the engine settles into a smooth albeit slightly audible idle. Typical of this motor, there is some hesitation at low revs as the fixed geometry turbocharger takes time to spool-up. But still the Dzire delivers power quite progressively as acceleration remains smooth and jerk-free. Post 1800rpm is where the action is, and the strong mid-range is where you should aim to be when you are driving. The engine feels the most comfortable here and relatively smooth at mid-rpms. Past 4000rpm power starts to tail off and there is no point stretching it to its 5200rpm redline, as the motor sounds harsh. So it’s a very narrow power band to play with and cars like the Honda Amaze and VW Ameo have stronger engines and their higher 1.5-litre capacity helps too. The combination of light kerb weight and strong motor helps the Dzire manual transmission post some decent times. 100kph is reached in a respectable 12.12 seconds which makes it more than a second faster than the old car. Even in-gear time 11.28 second for 20-80kph in third gear is an improvement over the old car. These impressive times are also set also thanks to the 5-speed manual gearbox which has short throws and requires minimal effort.
The AMT gearbox-shod diesel Dzire gets the same engine tune as the manual. Despite the inherent jerkiness of the gearbox, this is one of the better iterations of the AMT we have experienced till date. This automated manual transmission works well on the highway and part throttle gearshifts are relatively smooth. You also get a creep function which is a boon in stop-start traffic. But it does take a second or two to hook-up which is troublesome especially on slopes where the car tends to roll back. Even on full burst acceleration you get that typical AMT pause as the hydraulic actuators struggle to upshift quickly to keep up the momentum. It’s in the manual mode that this gearbox feels the best and there is a way of getting around this drawback by just lifting off before every shift. So if you want a polished automatic transmission then you have to look elsewhere and at around the same money you can get a Volkswagen Ameo diesel with a modern dual clutch transmission which is on another level altogether. Despite the AMT transmission, the Dzire posted decent times against the clock. It took 12.87 seconds to reach 100kph which is an improvement of nearly a second over the old Swift Dzire AMT and in-gear times were quicker too.
Being light has helped Dzire’s dynamics too. Out on the highway, over worst of surfaces, the Dzire remains unfazed and the refined suspension simply goes about its job keeping you isolated from the surroundings. It drives over the broken roads with utter ease and nothing seems to faze the Maruti as it effortlessly glides over potholed tarmac. What’s also special is the flat and consistent manner in which the suspension works. At lower speeds, you do feel firmness especially when the car isn’t loaded. Over rippled surfaces or larger potholes there is quite a bit of body movement at low speeds but still it never gets uncomfortable and ride comfort is one of Dzire’s strengths. Even through corners, the Dzire shows good poise with well-contained body roll. It always feels surefooted, but the biggest deterrent that stops the Dzire from feeling sporty is the numb steering. It feels over assisted, and it doesn’t provide any feedback, which gives you a disconnected driving experience.
Should I buy one?
There are very few reasons not to. The new Dzire is a huge step ahead of its predecessor in almost every department. That is a huge compliment for a car that was already selling in bige numbers. It gets a more premium cabin, elegant exteriors, good interior space, loads of equipment, is very practical and the lighter new chassis has improved performance as well as dynamics too. On the downside the price has gone up considerably and you don’t get anything new as far as engine options are concerned. But even so the ageing diesel motor is par for the course and considering how strong Dzire resale value is, even the high price seems justified.
Where does it fit in?
The Maruti Dzire rivals the likes of Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent, Volkswagen Ameo and Ford Aspire. Where the old car was priced at par with the competition the new Dzire now has become the most expensive compact sedan in its segment.