The Estilo’s styling is a radical departure from the traditional hatchback design of the earlier Zen. In fact, it’s a radical departure from any other small car. The looks are a point of contention and the monospace or MPV look may be hard to digest for some, but others will love it — we fall into the latter category. The cab-forward design has superb proportions and is a breath of fresh air among conventional hatchbacks. The Estilo looks the most modern and futuristic in its class and hence, hides its age very well. The car is actually the earlier-generation Suzuki MR Wagon which was launched in late 2001. Though it’s a pretty old design, it’s still newer than other economy cars including the Santro launched in 1998. The Estilo is underpinned by the Wagon R’s mechanicals.
It has recently been given a facelift which include the canges to the front of the car which was necessary to fit the bigger engine under that short hood, and it’s come as a bonus as they have really improved the looks. The Estilo now looks more aggressive with a larger front bumper, bigger air intake, a larger grille with a chrome strip and peel-back headlamps like on the SX4. Even the rear bumper has been replaced by a more angular one with an integrated fog lamp. The suspension is basic and the front suspension’s control rod is a simple I-arm which has a single location on the chassis (there is no sub-frame). However Maruti has tightened the suspension in favour of improving the handling of the car. It uses independent MacPherson struts at the front and non-independent torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs.
The interiors remain unchanged though, the only difference being the two-tone dash rather than the all-beige interiors of the earlier car and the gear lever from the A-star’s parts bin. Quite a few bits have been rummaged from the Maruti parts bin in an effort to keep costs down. The gear lever, circular air con vents and power window switches come from the Swift while the air con controls, wiper and headlight stalks and the instrument panel gauges are borrowed from the Wagon R.
The Zen Estilo comes with a few surprises like a driver airbag option, electric mirrors, an auto-down function for the driver’s window and a cabin light that stays on till the key is inserted—all features usually expected only in expensive cars.
The large cubbyhole above the glovebox and bigger door pockets are useful for storing knick-knacks. The rear seat folds forward as a single piece, limiting flexibility. Also, there’s no parcel shelf and this is inconvenient. It’s advisable to pick up an aftermarket shelf from your dealer.
The front seats lack comfort and aren’t ample enough. There is little lower back support and this could tire you out in a long-run.
Performance & Economy
The new Estilo is now powered with the A-stars 998cc, k series engine. The new engine is a big step forward over the older motor. It feels peppier and, like in the A-star, loves to be revved. Only when you get off the clutch do you have to give it a bit more throttle as it threatens to stall, which can be irritating in stop-and-go traffic.
This engine’s strength lies is in the mid- and top-end of the power band, where it feels eager and smoother. Performance isn’t as quick as the old Estilo, 0-100kph takes 15.8 seconds, but the engine’s willingness to rev more than makes up for this. Refinement is a step forward with vibration seeping through only at idle, mainly because of the three-cylinder layout. The gearshift too has improved by miles but it is not as good as the A-star’s ’box, due to the tall gear lever which makes the throws longer and a bit notchy.
Ride & Handling
The stiffer suspension means the Estilo feels more solid to drive. Straightline stability is better but high-speed bumps still have the ability to unsettle the car. In the city though, it soaks up rutted surfaces well. If you expected the stiffer suspension to make the car handle like the original Zen, you’ll be disappointed. It rolls a fair bit, the overlight steering gives you absolutely no feedback and grip from the 155/65 R13 tyres is overcome quite easily. However, in comparison to the previous Estilo, it feels better tied down.
Luckily, the old Estilo’s strengths remain. It’s very easy to drive thanks to its miniscule turning circle and great visibility.
Priced at Rs 4.28 lakh (on-road Mumbai) for the VXi, the Estilo comes with decent equipment. You get power windows, power mirrors and power steering as standard which is the same as the earlier car, and a lot more than what its direct competition offers.
The new Estilo is much improved over the older car. It will appeal to people who are looking out for an easy-to-drive city runabout. The light steering, compact dimensions and responsive engine make it very suited for urban duty. It looks better, the engine is a big step forward and it handles better than the previous car.
At this price, it is a very attractive deal. It’s just that it still feels a generation old.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) Rs 3.60-4.24 lakh
Warranty 2yrs/40,000 kms
Installation Front, transverse
Power 68bhp at 6200rpm
Torque 9.1kgm at 3500rpm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Ground clearance 165mm
Chassis & Body
Tyres 155/65 R13
Front Ventilated disc/drums
Rear Ventilated disc/drums
City 12.3 kpl
Highway 16.8 kpl
Tank size 35 litres
Range at a glance Engines
Petrol 1.0 litre