Names can sometimes be inappropriate. You know you have to be careful when you hand over your watch to the ‘Reliable’ watch company, and ‘Perfect’ drycleaners may not exactly be a vision of perfection. Look at the guillotined rear of the new Dzire, and you can tell that form definitely follows function here; the rear styling isn’t exactly desirable. Trust Maruti to be as practical as possible. So along with the thrill and excitement associated with a new car comes a bit of initial trepidation. Doesn’t the rear look a bit odd to you? Of course it does. The thing is, you soon get used to the chopped-to-be-shorter-than-four-metres look, and after a while it really isn’t a bother. And that’s partly because the rest of the car is so damned good.
One of the first trips I make in this car is to pick up a couple of friends from the airport, on a whim. Halfway through the drive though, I have a mini panic attack. Is the boot large enough to swallow all the luggage? Will everything really fit in the back, or will we have to hire a cab? The big surprise however is just how useable the 316-litre boot really is. It is tall, reasonably deep and the uniform size of the insides means getting bulky objects in is rather easy. “Where did all the luggage go?” asked my friend’s wife who, after the airport pick up, is so impressed with the comfort, refinement and compact dimensions of the car, she decides then and there that this is the perfect second car for their family.
And it really is no surprise. The insides have a nice feel to them. The two-tone colour scheme goes really well with the design of the Swift’s cabin, there is sufficient legroom and comfort for passengers in both rows, and music connectivity is pretty good as well. You get a direct plug-in for your iPod, there’s an Aux cable jack that’s compatible with everything apart from your grandad’s record player, and the system plays MP3s as well. Bluetooth, however, is missing, so you can’t pair your phone, which is a bit irritating. And I really wish it had better sound quality – the amplifier seems under-specified, the speakers sound below average. Jack up the volume even slightly and you get quite a bit of distortion. The audio systems in other cars are much better.
But enough about the audible entertainment: what makes the Dzire so nice to drive on an everyday basis is that spike of boost you get from Fiat’s Multijet engine. Yes, if you are a lazy driver, the turbo lag below 1900rpm can get a bit annoying, and this is especially true if you are languishing in a higher gear in traffic. But once the boost comes in, performance is so strong you will all but forget that initial lag. The turbo comes in hard enough to give you a burst of acceleration, even if you’re only at part throttle; the light car seems to sprint away effortlessly, and that really does feel great. What’s also good for long bouts in traffic is the light steering. It allows you to change lanes easily even at walking speeds, and is weighty enough as you go faster. There is some amount of feel and feedback as well.
The Dzire is good even on the highway, and that’s not just down to the engine. Maruti, it seems, has found the ideal balance between ride and handling. So the Dzire is comfortable and pliant on city streets as well as nicely planted and reasonably confidence-inspiring on the highway. “It seems to have the right blend of compliance and firmness,” says one of our testers who regularly drives out of the city for the weekend in all manner of machinery.
Where the Dzire does come up short, at times, is in the braking department. Yes, the brakes function well under normal conditions, and the pedal is pretty well weighted too – it’s just that they feel like they are lacking in bite when you really want to stop in a hurry. And that can be a bit disconcerting as you then need to hit the pedal pretty hard if you want additional stopping power.
And what of the Dzire’s chopped-to-fit rear? I haven’t really been noticing it of late, so it’s all right, I guess. What I have been noticing, however, are a lot of requests for this car from the guys in office. Add to it the overall fuel efficiency figure of 15.9kpl on a recent tank-up, despite most of the driving being enthusiastic, and you can see why. So there it is then – Maruti’s slightly oddball Dzire with a brutally chopped boot is quite a desirable car after all.
Price 8.74 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy 17.2kpl
Maintenance costs None