Maruti Suzuki Dzire vs Hyundai Xcent comparison: Who wins the compact sedan war?
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Maruti Suzuki Dzire vs Hyundai Xcent comparison: Who wins the compact sedan war?

The Maruti Dzire is bigger and more refined than before, but is it better than the capable Hyundai Xcent?

autos Updated: Oct 04, 2017 10:58 IST
Saumil Shah
Saumil Shah
Autocar India
Maruti Suzuki Dzire,Hyundai Xcent,Dzire vs Xcent
Is the new Maruti Suzuki Dzire better than the capable Hyundai Xcent.(Paul Dewars/Autocar India)

The Maruti Dzire and Hyundai Xcent – both based on successful hatchbacks, the Swift and Grand i10, respectively – were created to satisfy sedan-seeking Indian car buyers on a budget. The cars offered the practicality of a proper boot, for a small premium over their hatchback counterparts. This is because their sub-four-metre lengths ensured lower government taxes, and that allowed their pricing to be aggressive. The Dzire went on to become one of the bestselling cars in the country. Now Maruti has just launched an all-new generation of the compact sedan and it’s bigger, more spacious, more practical and more efficient than ever before.

But it’s up against an equally formidable rival –the sophisticated Hyundai Xcent – which was updated recently with fresher looks, more features and a larger diesel engine. The upgrades have made it more refined, better on performance, and it also feels more nicely put together. But is it good enough to see off the new Dzire?

From the driver’s seat The third-generation Dzire employs the older car’s 75hp, 1.3-litre diesel engine. The good news here is that this engine is a bit more refined and quieter than before. At idle, there’s little clatter, but spin the engine hard and the diesel drone is clearly audible. It isn’t very responsive at low revs, but once past 2000rpm, there’s a fair amount of performance on offer. There’s an option of an automated manual transmission (AMT) as well. The manual version tested here had short throws, but there were a few occasions when the gears refused to slot into their gates. Also, the clutch is a touch heavy.

The Xcent, on the other hand, gets a 1.2-litre diesel engine with a power output of 75hp; identical to the Dzire’s. However, being a three-cylinder motor, it vibrates more at idle and the thrum is easily noticeable as you spin the motor faster. Yes, it is refined and quite silent compared to other diesel compact sedans, but you can hear a soft rattle at all times – in comparison, the Dzire is a bit more silent. What’s nice, though, is it’s responsiveness right off the line. There’s negligible delay in acceleration and it builds speeds from low revs in a nice and eager way. However, performance at higher revs isn’t as nice as the Dzire. On the 0-100kph sprint, the Dzire takes 13.29sec, while the Xcent reaches 100kph much slower in 15.58sec. Also, the diesel Xcent only comes with a manual gearbox. This gearbox, however, is very smooth to operate. The gearshift action feels positive and the clutch is nice and light to use. The brakes, however, are noticeably weaker than the Dzire’s. Although they bite well initially, they don’t provide enough confidence at speeds.

Both the cars here are well-tuned for our road conditions and are comfortable to drive in the city. Maruti has softened the Dzire’s suspension a bit more than before and that means it is quite absorbent at low speeds. In fact, go a bit quicker and you’ll soon realise that the ride has significantly improved. The Xcent’s ride and bump absorption was improved with the facelift but it still crashes a bit over sharp bumps. Though, when it comes to highway driving and tackling corners in an enthusiastic manner, it’s the Dzire that’s more competent. What dampens the fun, however, is that its steering feels vague, especially in and around the straight-ahead position. The Xcent’s steering on the other hand, is light, consistent in nature and quite direct too.

What are they like inside?

The Dzire’s cabin is impressive to say the least. If the cleverly laid-out dashboard with the beige and black theme and the burl-wood ornamentation doesn’t get you, the overall spaciousness and airiness surely will. It’s a big step up from the older car and the superb flat-bottomed steering, touchscreen infotainment and climate control system, lift its appeal even further. The front seats are wide and supportive, and the driver has plenty of adjustment in terms of seat height and steering tilt. However, the front passenger side could do with a little more legroom as the centre-console intrudes a bit into the footwell. To free up knee-room, the glovebox is smartly scooped out. Storage areas, however, aren’t quite practical in the Dzire. They aren’t made as well or covered like in the Xcent, so keys and loose objects kept on the hard shelf rattle around quite a bit when on the go.

While the Dzire’s interiors are nice, the Xcent’s takes things a few notches higher when it comes to premium feel. The leather on the steering, the knurl finish on the rotary knobs on the dashboard, the finely crafted gear lever, and all the buttons in general exude a level of quality from a segment above. The front seats, though a bit narrow, are nice and comfy but the integrated neck restraints for the rear passengers are a bit of a downer; they’re a safety hazard for tall occupants. Also, in comparison to the Dzire’s sporty dials, the Xcent’s instrument cluster now seems a bit dull. Overall visibility from the driver’s seat, however, is slightly better here than the Dzire, especially rearward.

The backseat of the Dzire offers plenty of space. It is much wider, has the better knee- and legroom, and even the angle of the backseat is better, but, taller passengers will be left wanting for headroom. What’s nice is that both cars come with an armrest, a rear air-con vent and a power socket. In terms of sheer boot capacity, the Xcent has the upper hand. Its boot can hold 407 litres of luggage, while the Dzire’s boot, at 378 litres, isn’t too far behind.

Creature Comforts There was a time when Hyundais used to be the most feature-packed in their segments, but this time around, it’s the Maruti that packs in a bit more equipment. Both cars get auto climate control, daytime running lamps (DRLs), touchscreen infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera and sensors, engine start/stop button and keyless entry, rear air con vents and 15-inch alloy wheels. The Dzire also gets segment-first automatic LED projector headlamps, part-LED tail-lamps and navigation.

In terms of safety, the Xcent gets dual airbags as standard across the range while ABS is reserved for the top variants only. However, Maruti is now offering ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), dual airbags and Isofix child seat mounts as standard across the range. The top variants also get speed-sensing door locks and 185mm tyres, compared to the Xcent’s skinnier 175mm ones.

Choosing champions

With its recent launches, Hyundai has really upped its game when it comes to quality, features and refinement, and the Xcent facelift is proof of just that. It gets fresh new styling, a long list of equipment and a bit more power than before. It’s easy to drive with light controls, is spacious and comfy enough to be chauffeured around in and has a large, practical boot. Quality, fit and finish of the interiors too has taken a big leap forward, which really elevates the ambience of its interior.

ModelMaruti Suzuki Dzire 1.3D ZDi+ Hyundai Xcent diesel 1.2D SX (O)
Engine 1248cc, 4-cylinder diesel1186cc, 3-cylinder diesel
Power 75hp @ 4000rpm75hp @ 4000rpm
Torque 190Nm @ 2000rpm190Nm @ 1750-2250rpm
Fuel economy 28.4kpl25.4kpl
Tank size 37 litres43 litres
Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi)Rs 8.94 lakhRs 8.42 lakh

This new Dzire, however, has taken the game ahead. Its more sedan-like exterior design looks a lot more attractive for one. The bright and airy beige interiors with the barrage of premium features like the touchscreen with navigation, rear air-con vents, a flat-bottom steering mean it is now nearly as nice on the inside as well. What furthers its appeal is the sheer amount of cabin space and a boot that’s larger than before. However, what buyers will really love is the efficiency of the diesel engine rated at 28.4kpl. Maruti has improved the car’s refinement levels, and even its low-speed ride is quite impressive now. It’s quite fun to drive too, although the very poorly set up steering dulls the experience a bit. Sure, the price of the top variants is a bit steep, but there’s no denying that you get your money’s worth in terms of space, features and premiumness and that’s simply why it wins.

(In arrangement with Autocar India)

First Published: Jun 04, 2017 08:31 IST