A holiday road trip is sort of a rite of passage for the longest of the long-termers in the Autocar India fleet. If a car has been around long enough, it will surely be pressed into duty for a trip to Mahabaleshwar, Nashik, Goa, or maybe even Rajasthan. However, some don’t make the cut, and for obvious reasons. Road trips require space for passengers and luggage, a powerful engine for cruising effortlessly down the expressway and, ideally, a diesel engine, so that your bank account doesn’t end up wishing you’d just taken a flight instead.
OFFSET CAMERA: Rear-view camera not in the centre; don’t rely solely on it.
The Maruti Dzire is compact, doesn’t have a huge boot, is saddled with a mere 83hp, and drinks at the green pump at a fuel station. So, of course, when I decided to take a trip down to Goa from Mumbai, I immediately pictured myself in one of our big diesel SUVs instead. The Tucson? The Hexa, perhaps? However, circumstances – just some violent riots in the streets, no big deal – meant that, on the eve of my departure, I wasn’t able to go out and exchange cars, and I was stuck with the little Maruti. But then, with just two people and only five days’ worth of luggage, how bad could it be?
USABLE BOOT It’s not the largest, but its square shape makes it very usable.
As it turns out, excellent! To avoid the aforementioned riots, we set out at 4am, breezing through Maharashtra while the alleged agitators snoozed; a smart move, as big chunks of the state were brought to a standstill later in the day. The Dzire’s biggest strength, very ironically, is its light weight, and with just two small people onboard, it stayed light. That means it was quick and responsive, and it was also extremely fuel efficient; trust me, once you load the Dzire up with people and stuff, it is neither of those things. The result is, we made it to Goa unexpectedly quickly and surprisingly frugally too – almost entirely on one tank of petrol. In a diesel car, Mumbai-Goa on a tank might be easy, but you have to realise the Dzire has a small, 35-litre fuel tank, and let’s just say reaching quickly trumped fuel economy on this journey’s list of priorities.
LIGHT GEARSHIFT: You’ll think twice about opting for an AMT; even in traffic.
Once we ditched the big highway and headed for the coast, the roads, predictably, got smaller and windier, and I have to say, despite my passenger’s many, many protests, I had quite a lot of fun chucking the Dzire around. Yes, make no mistake, the steering is awful – it has zero feel and weight to it, will never return to centre, and can be outright dangerous if you’re not careful – but the rest of the package is actually rather good, with tight body control and an engine that enjoys being wound open.
CREAM INTERIORS: Lots of Goa’s infamous red mud made itself at home inside.
At 378 litres, the boot is way larger than the last Dzire’s, but still far from the ideal choice for a road trip. We travelled pretty light though, and, with the rather square-shaped luggage compartment, we were able to squeeze in a surprising amount of stuff. The other thing that surprised quite a bit was the ride comfort. The Dzire exhibited a refreshingly mature highway gait that felt miles ahead of any compact Maruti car before it. Prior to this, I’d only ever taken it on small drives outside of the city, but on a 600-plus km journey with a variety of road surfaces, one can really get to know a car’s chassis. Perhaps I spent a little too much time ‘getting to know’ the car, as now that I’m back, the brakes are feeling a little worse for wear. I should have them checked out. For now, though, it’s back to the urban slog for the Dzire and I; back to seeing ‘12kpl’ on the digital readout, rather than 17.
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