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Kindling the DZire

Maruti Suzuki has introduced a reimagined third-generation DZire in India. It has got the looks and a longer equipment list to retain its numero uno position

When we first laid eyes on the all-new DZire, there was one element that stood out almost instantly. No, this isn't about the new platform. It isn't that it's based on the all-new Swift and inherits more than its face with a few changes.

What piqued our interest was a line, maybe two, that make the new DZire appear akin to a Maserati Quattroporte taken out after a tumble-wash and shrunken. Consider it humour, but there is something about that which brought about that locomotive of thought and it seems etched now.

Spacious boot accomodates 378 litres of cargo
Spacious boot accomodates 378 litres of cargo

The new DZire is quite a unique offering. Its predecessors became the best-selling compact sedan in the category. Its balance of styling, frugal acquisition and running costs, not to mention an unmatched network of service centres, all made it the default choice for many. While the older car ticked all the right boxes in the past, this new one raises the bar — by some margin — thanks to a more comprehensive variant structure and some much-needed features.

Following an investment of R1,000 crore, the DZire is built on the new HEARTECT platform that underpins the new Swift. The wheelbase is 20 millimetres longer and the width is 40 mm more. It sits 40 mm lower and has a 163-mm ground clearance. It's also about 80 kg lighter. Put all of those together, and the result should be a nimbler, more frugal car with even more precious passenger room inside.

The 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel is now BS-IV compliant. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
The 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel is now BS-IV compliant. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

The new front grille, projector headlamps with LED signatures make it stand out. The double-wave side profile design is accentuated by stylishly swept wheel-arches. They, in turn, are filled by striking 15-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 185/65 rubber. The rear is rounded off with a set of LED tail-lamps and a wider boot draped in chrome.

Inside, there's an air of quality. The level of fit-and-finish, plus the interplay of beige and black plastic with burr wood trim and matte-chrome accents all appear very modern and quite luxurious. The front seats are contoured well and are remarkably supportive. The driver's seat is height-adjustable. Overall ergonomics have been stepped up significantly. The touchscreen unit is familiar, also seen in the Nexa cars, packing media management, phone connectivity and navigation, among other things.

The new cabin is elegant and a major step up
The new cabin is elegant and a major step up

The rear seat is also a nice place to be. You get a nicely supportive seat base, adjustable headrests, rear air vents, a centre armrest, ISOFIX child-seat tethers, and even more space. The DZire can claim to have rear knee-room to shame some cars from segments above. There are cubbyholes and spacious door-pockets, not to mention the larger 378-litre boot, which also has a nice and wide loading lip. Overall, the DZire impresses with a wonderfully packaged design.

Motive force comes from the now familiar 1.2-litre K12 four-cylinder petrol engine, with 83 PS and 113 Nm, and the just as familiar 1.3-litre DDiS four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, with 75 PS and 190 Nm. Both are now BS IV-compliant.

Second row room is bigger and more plush
Second row room is bigger and more plush

Get going and the first thing you notice is how much quieter the cabin is. The noise levels have been dampened even better. The proportions are easy to get used to and the engine feels peppy. The motor also feels like it has been retuned to deliver the torque in a more linear manner, with the earlier turbo-lag below 2,000 rpm feeling less pronounced. It's still strong, and will do slightly above an indicated 90 km in top gear at 2,000 rpm. The big change is the steering response. There is so much more feedback and feel from the electric power-steering unit and adds to driving confidence. The brakes, however, could have been better. The ride quality is also up a notch. The dampers work hard to keep the body planted and also feels like they can handle rebound after tackling a speed-hump much better than before.

The DZire with the automated manual transmission (AGS, or Auto Gear Shift) is built to address convenience in city traffic and it does that well. Note, it's not a driver-oriented gearbox; so spirited driving won't be taken kindly. The up-shifts are quick when not prodded and downshifts are handled casually as well. If you want speed, and quick, you're better off with the manual.

Other conveniences, such as the keyless start and go, steering-mounted audio controls, electric mirror adjust and auto-climate make life so much easier on the move. What Maruti has done is taken their tried-and-tested formula and added a dash of pizzazz to it. What it may have lacked before, it has double helpings of now: style and a bit of premium. That does come at a price, though.

The DZire was launched from Rs 5.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) but the ZDi+ R8.94 lakh, again ex-showroom, Delhi, with the ZDi+ AGS costing R9.41 lakh. That puts them both in the R10-lakh-plus bracket on the road, at least in Maharashtra. Steep? Yes. But, the amount of kit is also higher. Remember, this one has standard kit dual front airbags and ABS, plus both Z+ variants get those specially-crafted alloy wheels and those snazzy projector headlamps with underlying LED strips.

Then there's the fuel efficiency claim of over 28 km/l. We'll have to wait for the road test to see how that pans out. The DZire battles the likes of the Volkswagen Ameo, Honda Amaze, Tata Tigor and Ford Figo Aspire. It has shown its rivals who's boss before. Now, it comes with more inventory; its rekindled flame shin-ing even brighter.

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