The Maruti Suzuki Dzire is clearly the supreme leader of the subcompact sedan space, a segment which is only unique to India. The concept of a sub 4-metre sedan itself was formed out of legislation and it is a perfect example of how car manufacturers in India can adapt to a circumstance that is more of a 'jugaad' and less sensibility. Still, carmakers have managed to achieve huge profits out of this segment and the success story of the previous two generations of the Dzire sedan is a testament to that. Having said that, the sub 4-meter subcompact sedan market, on the whole, is looking at a decline and at a time like this Maruti Suzuki has introduced the third-generation Dzire. So, could there be a hat-trick in the play for the new Maruti Suzuki Dzire? We drive the car to answer that very question, so read on to know if the new-generation Maruti Suzuki Dzire - that has now dropped the Swift name - still has what it takes to sustain its reign.
Also Read: Maruti Suzuki Dzire Variants Explained
One of the biggest problems with the older car was the fact that it looked too much like the Swift hatch. This time around, even though the front face of the new Dzire and the Swift hatch, which will make its way to India next year, is familiar, the A pillar has been redesigned from being quite upright to a more angular swooping look. This gives the new Dzire a more purposeful and sedan-like feel. The car also gets a set of 15-inch wheels; steel ones on the lower variants and diamond cut alloys on the higher spec. A set of 16-inch wheels would have certainly looked cooler but Maruti has taken a conscious decision to not go that route and choose a more comfort oriented wheel and tyre combination.
And that brings us to the boot. For a change, the boot does not look like a hasty copy-paste botch job but one that was designed from scratch to go with the car. The addition of the chrome strip on the tail gate (or silver on the lowest variants) is also a good touch and does well to interlink the tail lamps. The tail lamps are LED units and are standard on all models, which too is a good move – both for the way they look and the added visual light that they emit.
On to the interior then. With the Maruti Suzuki range moving to a more premium form of mobility in as many segments as they possibly can, it comes as no surprise that the new Dzire is plusher and more well equipped than ever. And it is also larger. A new platform always means more space and the new Dzire is wider in the front and in the rear as compared to the older car.
The front seats are 20mm more apart which gives the passengers an airier feel. The rear seats are 30mm wider and this had been accomplished both by a wider platform and a reworked seat design. The front seats are comfortable and even after driving for over two hours, I personally felt no real signs of fatigue. The rear seats too are nicer than the older ones and give more lumbar and under-thigh support. You also get a rear AC vent and a fold down central console with some cup holders.
The dashboard itself reminds us of the older Dzire and is well layered with dark grey up top and a beige bottom. The dashboard itself has a wood panel divider that is now much much nicer to touch and has great dark-wood style texture as compared to previous generations. The AC vents get a silver surround that perfectly match the silver on the crisp and clear instrument cluster and the flat bottom steering wheel with the wood inserts ties everything up well.
The centre of attraction in the Dzire though has to be the gloss black central console, which as always, is prone to finger print marks and dust. The console has a touchscreen infotainment unit that I personally have grown quite fond of. The touchscreen unit has Apple CarPlay and Andorid Auto as standard and also houses inbuilt navigation. The touchscreen is responsive and easy to use and is one of the nicest screens on any sub 10-lakh rupee car out there. The new Dzire also gets climate control on the top spec Z and Z+ models.
The Dzire gets both the petrol and the diesel engine that was in the last generation and also gets a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed AMT automatic, or, as Maruti calls it, AGS (Automated Gear Shift). The petrol engine makes 82 bhp or peak power and 113 Nm of peak torque. The more popular diesel on the other hand makes 74 bhp of peak power but 190 Nm of torque. In the past, buyers have always preferred the diesel engine option in the Dzire so lets talk about that first.
The maual gearbox and the 1.3-litre DDiS engine is the quintessential Maruti Suzuki pairing that the common man enjoys. And why not! It has always been a fun little motor to drive especially if you learn the way the power comes in once the turbos begin to do their thing. The engine is relatively the same as before in terms of driving feel and even though the turbo lag in a higher gear and lower speed combination remains, the diesel manual is still a zippy little car to drive. The gearbox itself feels solid and the short shifts and light clutch that we loved in the previous generation continue to stay the same.
The diesel engine also gets the 5-speed automatic AMT or AGS gearbox as we mentioned earlier. The diesel engine and the AMT gearbox make a great pair and there is very little lag between the shifts when driving normally. Floor the throttle a little more and the car does tend to have a bit more lag but it is definitely something you can live with. A sport mode would have really helped this package by leaps and bounds making it respond a lot better to throttle inputs. That said, the tuning of the AMT gearbox and the manual now makes the diesel Dzire return a fuel efficiency figure of 28.4 kmpl making it the most fuel-efficient car in the country!
The petrol engine too is essentially the same unit as the last generation car and also the one found in the likes of the Ignis and the Baleno. The 1.2-litre unit does feel slightly underpowered as compared to the diesel even though it is rated higher in terms of horsepower as it does make a lot less torque. But, with a strong top end power band it can keep you entertained if you rev it hard although that will have a direct affect on your fuel economy.
The new mechanical addition to the Dzire though is the AMT gearbox pairing with the petrol engine. This is the same unit as the one on the Ignis but the shift timings have been modified slightly to offer a smoother shift in order to maximise comfort. There is still a bit of the typical automatic gearbox nod when it shifts between gears and just like with the diesel AMT, the petrol would have been much better off with a sports mode of some sort to make the shifts faster.
Also similarly, once you know how the gearbox responds to your throttle position and throttle movements, the Dzire Automatic petrol is as good to drive as any other AMT out there. The AMTs though, do get hill hold assist and crawl mode, both of which work with no judders and drama at all. In traffic too, the AMT responds well when one takes their foot off the brakes and transitions to the throttle. If driven sedately, both the manual and the automatic petrol return a respectable 22 kmpl of fuel efficiency.
So the Dzire might have this radio taxi or just-your-average-family-sedan sort of image but when it comes to actual driving dynamics, it is a pretty fun car to drive. The last generation was one of my favourite cars when it came to hitting a mountain road and this one with the new Heartec platform is even better. It is lighter which means the steering turn in is a little more precise. Steering feedback is just as good and it does have that balance between ride and handling which is almost perfect. So when you want to throw it around corners, you can do that, and then when you want to settle down and just enjoy the drive, especially with your family considering the fact that this is going to be mainly a family car, it does that well as well.
In terms of safety features, Maruti have gone that extra step and have made two airbags and ABS standard on all variants. The platform that underpins the Dzire also meets all future crash norms which include offset and pedestrian safety. And you get Isofix mountings as standard for your toddlers child seat too.
The new Dzire then is just a great all round package. It looks nice, especially compared to the older versions, is packed full of gadgets, has the petrol and diesel engines and the manual or AMT option too and is well priced. The sub 4-meter subcompact sedan segment might be slumping but the Dzire is definitely going to set sales charts on fire. Considering the car already has thousands of bookings, Maruti has a sure shot winner here. And why not. In my personal opinion, if a sub 4-meter sedan is what you really want, this is possibly the best one out there.