Swift Dzire: largely a nip-and-tuck job
It is no mean task to refresh an existing car to either bring it on a par with new competitors or to counter product fatigue. However, in these times of ever-shortening product lifecycles, manufacturers are grappling with this reality, virtually on a monthly basis. Sumant Banerji reports.Updated: Feb 24, 2012 01:59 IST
It is no mean task to refresh an existing car to either bring it on a par with new competitors or to counter product fatigue. However, in these times of ever-shortening product lifecycles, manufacturers are grappling with this reality, virtually on a monthly basis.
But when it comes to an established market leader like a Swift or its sedan sibling, the Dzire, such tweaking can often be a double-edged sword. Last August, Maruti did a cosmetic surgery on the Swift and convinced the market that it was a new car. With the Dzire, Maruti has gone in for more than a mere tweak. Not that it is always a good thing.Exterior
Launched in 2008, the Dzire was and is simply a Swift with a boot: it was never a looker. But few of the 3.3 lakh owners of the Dzire would have bought it for looks. The value for money is compelling argument in its favour.
That overhanging boot has now shrunk. It is now 5mm shorter than the government’s notorious 4-metre mark, bringing it into the lower excise duty slab. It is also the shortest car in its category, after the Tata Indigo eCS. However, it is wider, taller and has a longer wheelbase than the old Dzire.
The irony — it looks better, but looks were never the strong point of the Dzire.
Of the over 150 changes Maruti claims to have made to the car, the interiors see to have got the lion’s share. The longer wheelbase increased rear legroom by 20 mm. The two-tone colour combination, the wooden inserts, the retractable cup holder — all lend an upmarket feel to the car. The equipment list is also quite exhaustive, such as steering mounted audio controls, and integrated 2-din music system in the top-end model But it is however not as spacious as the Etios. And knowing your car can fit in three suitcases instead of two in the boot does not hurt, does it?
Ride and handling
Eight laps on a track designed for F1 cars in a car meant for the city may not be the ideal test drive. But it is the best way to get under the skin of a car. The market has already tasted the 1.2-litre K-series petrol engine and the 1.3-litre diesel engine. Thanks to the reduced weight (remember the smaller boot?) the new Dzire is more trigger happy. The suspension is softer, the gear ratios give a decent bang for the buck — but it does compromise with the fun element. The diesel is decidedly peppier, but overall this is no performance-oriented car.
A Maruti forte since time immemorial that it happy leverages with the cocky “kitna deti hai” ads. The new Dzire continues the tradition. The petrol variant consolidates its position as the most fuel efficient car in the category. The diesel version trails the Toyota Etios and the Ford Fiesta. But only just.
The surprise: an automatic
Automatic transmissions have usually fared badly in India due to their high cost and low fuel economy. But ever increasing traffic congestions and more women driving cars however make automatics a driver friendly and attractive offering. The Dzire automatic may not burn the sales charts, but it is sure to give Maruti some extra volumes — and a headstart over its rivals. Overall, a welcome move.
First Published: Feb 24, 2012 01:55 IST