The Autocar India long-term fleet can, at times, be a treasure trove of fun, posh, luxurious, spacious, or, in the very least, interesting cars. At these times, the guys that drive these cars – my colleagues – will be tripping over one another running for the key box, fighting for that hot new piece of metal. For the last five to six years,I’ll admit, I was part of this rat race too. I’d wager deals for a few days in this sedan, in exchange for a weekend in that SUV; one thing’s for sure – none of this was very ‘long term’.
But now, I’m old and I prefer consistency, at least when it comes to the everyday grind – and I’m happy to say for the last 18 months, I’ve been able to have that consistency thanks to my long-term Maruti Dzire. That’s right, I said ‘my’.
ROBOT ROCK: Android Auto: a one-plug solution to all my infotainment needs.
Like the Baleno I’d run to before it, the Dzire was the perfect mid-range car. Not so fancy as to have everyone fighting over it, but packing in more than enough good qualities to get me to work and back home each day, relaxed (Mumbai traffic permitting), comfortable, somewhat entertained and without a giant hole in my bank account, despite the rather hilarious price of petrol today. Apart from sending it out for a shoot or two or lending it to a colleague for a few days at a time, its entire time in the Autocar fleet has been spent with me. I’ve grown into it and it’s grown on me. Do I miss driving a variety of cars regularly? Sure, sometimes. But it’s nothing compared to sinking into a familiar driver’s seat, set just how I left it, with the mirrors just as I left them, the radio still set to 94.3 and, most of all, the same amount of fuel in the tank.
VELVVT: Smooth, silent yet peppy petrol engine is a dream in traffic.
But is that sense of familiarity enough to make me forgive this car’s not-insignificant flaws? Sometimes, but they can still be frustrating. For instance, it may be well featured, but Suzuki’s SmartPlay touchscreen is clunky, buggy and prone to crashing inexplicably. I simply remedied that by using the Android Auto interface all the time, but it too felt a little bit laggy on this unit. And then, of course, there’s the thing that bugs me about almost every modern Maruti – the steering. I cannot count the number of times it has, quite literally, led me astray, with its inability to recentre itself after being steered. It’s not that you can’t learn to work around it; it’s just frustrating that it adds another complication to your driving experience – another thing for you to concentrate on – that needn’t have been there. Plus, it robs the joy from what could have been a fun-to-drive car.
GRIME AND PUNISHMENT: After two years, carpets and trims are more brown than beige.
If it’s any consolation to the Dzire, though, fun often isn’t an option on my daily drive, with most of it involving lots of traffic. It’s here that the steering’s lightness matters more than the feedback it provides. It’s also here that I appreciate how light the clutch and gear shift are. Sadly, it’s also here that I get my best view of the interior while I wait at yet another traffic light. Despite my best efforts, most of the touchpoints – finished in a light shade of beige – have a smudgy layer of brown on them, and this is true of the carpets, the door grabs and the edges of the seats too.
FORCE FEEDBACK: Steering doesn’t self-recentre; feels like it has a mind of its own.
It’s got its fair share of pros and cons, then, but what I think I’ll miss the most about the Dzire when it’s gone is the bigger picture – the overall proposition. The compact sedan body style is inherently compromised by its need to meet a length requirement, but the Dzire does its very best to make you forget that. Be it the space on offer inside, the looks that are surprisingly attractive, or the long equipment list, it all comes together nicely, and over the last 18 months, I rarely felt I was driving a lesser car. Here’s hoping whatever comes next feels equally uncompromised.
2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire long term review, third report
2017 Maruti Dzire long term review, second report
2017 Maruti Dzire long term review, first report