The new for 2012 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire seeks to capitalise on what seemingly is a loophole in government legislation – excise benefits for cars less than 4 metres in length. With this being the major talking point of the new Dzire, Maruti’s engineers have worked backwards to ensure the car meets this critical parameter. It adds an all-new model to the product line-up for Maruti, with the previous Dzire continuing in production as well.
Design & Engineering
The starting point of the Dzire is not the front, but the rear of the car. Maruti’s engineers have cleverly ensured the car meets the 4-metre rule, so the new Dzire is exactly 3995mm long. The boot is stubby, giving the car an appearance more like a notchback than a proper sedan. The tail lamps have a hint of the Kizashi about them, which is a good thing, and looks good in my opinion. A thick chrome bar runs the along the width of the boot lid, which is a strong design element but integrates very well with the design. Maruti has chosen to persevere with the ‘bustle-back’ look, with the boot lid appearing raised, although the bulge is not as exaggerated as on the earlier model. Maruti persists with a single fog lamp at the rear, in the middle of the bumper, and a move to two lamps would not only help visibility in bad weather, but also liven up the looks a little. Overall, Maruti’s designers have managed to execute the look with a reasonable degree of flair, and the Dzire actually is a cute car.
At the front, the new Dzire is almost identical to the Swift hatchback, on which it is based, with a minor change being noticeable in the grille and the lower half of the front bumper. However, when viewed head-on, there’s no mistaking the car for anything else. In fact the two cars are almost identical up to the B-pillar, with the change evident after that.
Under the skin, the similarities continue with a similar McPherson strut front suspension, matched to a torsion beam rear axle. Discs do duty at the front, while the rear brakes continue to remain drums. The engines are the same as well, with the 1197cc K-Series petrol engine and the 1248cc Multijet diesel, mated to 5-speed manual gearboxes. There’s a 4-speed automatic too, offered only in a single variant with the petrol motor.
The top-line ZXi petrol and ZDi variants get 15-inch alloy wheels, as opposed to 14-inch steel wheels on the lower variants, similar to the new Swift.
Interiors & Comfort
The new Dzire carries over the same dashboard from the new Swift, which is a great-looking and extremely functional piece of kit. The dual-tone charcoal and beige plastics boast of impressive finish, although the bits and pieces don’t feel as solid as in a Toyota Etios or Ford Fiesta Classic for example. We’ve tested the top-of-the-range ZDi variant, which is fully loaded with climate control, stereo with USB and steering-mounted audio controls, electrically adjustable ORVMs, ABS with EBD and 2 airbags. The front seats continue to be among the best you’ll find in this segment, with a good blend of comfort and support in all the right places.
The rear seat too benefits from the increase in wheelbase, which at 2430mm is 40mm longer than the older Dzire’s. Still, it remains cosy, and not exactly a space to stretch out in. If you’re chauffer driven, then you might want to consider this aspect carefully. The rear seat could do with better under-thigh support too, so it’s not exactly the best place to be on long drives.
The seat fabric is excellent, but the light beige colour and textile material is susceptible to stains.
The boot is midway between Swift hatchback and older Dzire in terms of space, but then what did you expect? It will take two full-size suitcases, and perhaps you could squeeze in some smaller soft luggage, but if airport runs are your thing, the new Dzire falls short.
Performance & Handling
For anyone who’s driven the previous Swift, the car remains fond in memory. The squat dimensions, nimble handling and responsive steering made up for some of the shortcomings, but it remained an engaging car to drive nevertheless. The new Swift and by extension the new Dzire feel more grown up in their responses, and for the larger majority that’s a good thing. The cabin is quieter, the damping is more refined, and the overall attitude of the car feels more mature. Sure, the steering is lighter too, but doesn’t provide quite the same degree of ‘feel’.
The dampers on the new Dzire appear slightly on the softer side, and you can feel a degree of body roll around corners as well, but nothing that’s disconcerting. The bigger 15-inch wheels provide decent grip at each corner, and help with the ride quality too, especially over rumble strips, where the Dzire displays impressive composure. The earlier Dzire had a tendency to squat at the rear when accelerating, but that has been cured to a great extent with the new Dzire, partly because there’s less mass behind the rear axle.
The Multijet diesel engine continues to delight with its responsive nature and good spread of power. Of course, revving it beyond 4000rpm is pointless, but the Dzire nevertheless retains a good spread of torque between 1800-4000rpm, more than enough for all types of use. Matched with the right ratios, the new Dzire feels nice while cruising, and with enough grunt if you need it when overtaking. Best of all, it doesn’t suffer from a flat bottom end like many other small diesels, which makes it easy to drive in city traffic.
The Dzire, like most Marutis, is born with bragging rights in the fuel efficiency department. 23.4 kpl is the ARAI-certified figure, but of course we got nowhere close to that figure. In Kolkata city traffic with the AC on we recorded a figure of just under 15 kpl, which is excellent by any standard.
The Dzire is an India-only model, but it’s built on the Swift platform, which is an international car. by that standard, it’s been optimised to meet the crash norms in many developed markets. Of course, Maruti offers ABS with EBD and airbags along with ELR seatbelts only on the higher variants, as always.
The new Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire is a car which will no doubt add to Maruti’s market share in India, but it’s a car which isn’t entirely here or there. It isn’t a proper sedan with a big enough boot for those who need it, and it doesn’t boast of that much more luggage space than the Swift hatch either. When you compare the two, variant to variant, the price difference is between Rs 42-45,000. That much of a premium for approximately 100 litres more of luggage space doesn’t make too much sense. If Maruti had made the new Dzire with a full size rear hatch, like the Skoda Octavia for example, and given split/folding rear seats, there would be an argument for practicality to be made as well. Unfortunately, the Dzire doesn’t do that.
It may be a cute looking car which is reasonably nice to drive, but at Rs 7.8 lakh, on-the-road, it is hard to justify the forty-five thousand-rupee premium over the Swift hatch.
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