Maruti Suzuki's Dzire has been the buzzword in the Indian automotive scene for the past few days and it very well deserves to. The Dzire in my opinion is the first car ever in the compact sedan segment in India to break the shackles of compromises and deliver a wholesome experience to the end users. That's different even from its predecessor, the older Dzire that was just another boring looking car with loads of practicality. Customers are smart enough to realise the benefits of the new one and in just about two weeks since its launch, over 50,000 bookings have already been made.
Expectation from consumer to compromise
For long, the compact segment sedan has been riddled with abominations that were a result of the pressure created by the management on their designers to deliver a sedan without crossing the length of four metres. That's a Herculean task considering most good looking hatchbacks in India are on the edge of four metres and well over it in international markets. But then again, Hercules did what no one else did, implying the task is not impossible. Enter the new Dzire, our Hercules for this story.
It became almost impossible to expect a compact sedan to look good and some even turned out to be outright ugly. What Maruti Suzuki did with the new Dzire is the equivalent of Hercules' exploits. Ditching the 'done to death' recipe of slapping a boot onto a hatchback, Maruti Suzuki used a new platform, which it calls HEARTECT. The name sounds more like those used by European carmakers to emphasise on the emotional connect between people and vehicles. The platform itself is a reworked version of the one underpinning the Baleno but look at the Dzire and one can't find any glaring similarities.
As a result of the ground-up approach, the Dzire bears a proportionate design and looks like a sedan, which most of its competitors claim to be but fail to look like. Generous usage of chrome along with projector headlamps and LED DRLs and tail lamps help build a premium aura around the Dzire, a surprising first for the segment.
Read full review here: 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire Review: Finally a desirable compact sedan
Considering the low-cost history of the company, one might expect the cabin to feature a plethora of compromises but that isn't the case! Bearing almost no similarities with other Maruti Suzuki cars, the Dzire gets a fresh interior design with a black and beige dashboard featuring wood finish. The steering wheel is now flat-bottomed with wood finish in the lower part and the plastic quality too is good, although not the best in the segment. The infotainment system is similar to the one seen in the Ignis but features a different positioning. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means connectivity is at par with some competitors and better than most.
The cabin too has been designed smartly. Hence, one gets more space so even with a six-feet tall person driving, another person of the same height can sit at the rear without brushing his/ her knees against the front seat. Boot space too is one of the largest in the segment and the way it's been designed makes it easy to use it efficiently.
The new Dzire does, however, does have some old hardware and that's the choice of engines. While some might complain of the same old engines being used in the Dzire, I fail to understand what the fuss is all about. The engines are at par with the competition on every parameter and lead the way when it comes to the most important factor in India, fuel-efficiency. So why waste resources reinventing the wheel?
The new thing about the powertrain is the choice of an AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) with both the petrol and diesel engines. Even better is the fact that you can opt for it with the upper variants and not just the middle ones like a few competitors and some earlier models of Maruti itself.
This is a huge step in the right direction by the company since up till now automatic transmission has been offered as a trade-off to the consumers. One can either have all the bells and whistles except an AT or have an AT but do away with some features. Why, you may ask so? The answer is that companies for long have thought they are smarter than the consumers and know better what they need and can spend or rather should have and spend. Some carmakers at this stage might cite production constraints or results from a market research report as the hurdles. However, as a consumer I don't care about a company's production issues if my freedom to choose features is getting affected. And those who depend a lot on market research? Well, they most probably are still crunching numbers from some important market research while the competition is busy selling cars. With the new Dzire, the consumer now has the freedom of choosing maximum features and an AT at the same time and not one or the other.
Most compact sedans reflect that you wanted/ needed to buy a sedan but couldn't afford one and hence bought a compact sedan. The new Dzire on the other hand is just a good-looking and feature-packed sedan that you purchased because you wanted a sedan with these qualities.
At this point, you might be wondering if there are any negatives to the Dzire at all and the answer is yes. It isn't the perfect car so the plastic quality in the lower dashboard doesn't feel as good as the top black part. The under-thigh support at the rear can feel a bit inadequate for taller occupants and the lack of any cushioning at the rear door armrest can cause discomfort over a longer duration, particularly for someone with a lean frame like me. However, none of these are going to transform one's cabin experience from good to bad.
The new Dzire does what no other in its segment does as it introduces elegance and desirability through its exterior and interior design. It's in-cabin features are ahead of most of the competition and considering the price of all variants, they are priced competitively as well. However, the only negative I see here is some of the Baleno customers switching onto the Dzire instead.
Understanding, not assuming customer trends key to success
In a nutshell then, the Dzire is a strong testimony of how quickly times are changing in the automotive world. Companies can no longer decide what consumers want but can only be a humble service provider and package everything smartly in order to offer a pleasant user experience. Customers can no longer be expected to make/ accept compromises because they're on a budget that hangs between two segments and hence can only have some features from one and bits from the other.
All said and done, there is a bit of personal disappointment I have with the new Dzire. The fact that this brilliant car comes from the Maruti Suzuki stable and not from one of its competitors speaks of how the competition is still not understanding quickly enough what an average Indian car buyer wants and how her/ his demands are rapidly changing. Maruti Suzuki already commands about half of the passenger vehicle market in the country. Seeing a car like Dzire rolling out from one of the competitors would've spiced up things and caused nightmares for Maruti Suzuki about losing market share. Unfortunately, none of that happened and the desire to maintain its market share seems stronger in Maruti Suzuki than its competitors to challenge it.