Car review: Maruti Dzire ags: Affordable automatic meets diesel

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Published: January 16, 2016 12:00:11 AM

The Dzire Auto Gear Shift is an excellent combination of automated manual transmission and diesel engineering

Launched in 2008, Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire has been a phenomenal success. The car, which has sold about 12 lakh units until now, has been amongst top three sellers in the industry for the last four years. In fact, in calendar year 2015, the Dzire was the second best-selling car in the country with total sales of about 2.4 lakh units, translating into a monthly average of 20,000—that is, a Dzire is sold every 2 minutes in India!

Available in both petrol and diesel engine options and manual and automatic transmissions (only petrol automatic, which is the industry trend), the Dzire diesel last week got the company’s Auto Gear Shift (AGS) technology, becoming the first diesel car—and the fourth model in Maruti Suzuki’s portfolio—to be offered with AGS technology.

So, what is AGS and how does it function in the Dzire diesel?

AGS uses a manual gearbox and a clutch (there is no clutch pedal though), but acts like an automatic, changing gears for the driver with the help of a dedicated ECU and actuators. Unlike traditional automatic transmission, there is no torque converter.

How does it look: The gear-lever unit, placed between the two front seats, looks exactly like a traditional automatic transmission unit. On the right side of the unit, there are three slots: ‘N’ for neutral, ‘D’ for drive and ‘R’ for reverse. On the left, there is one slot marked ‘M’ for manual.

How does it drive: It comes with a push-button start function. Take the driver’s seat, ensure the key-fob is inside the car, or your pocket, and press the button which is located on the right side of the steering wheel. The engine will start only if the gear lever is in the ‘N’ mode and the brake pedal is pressed. Once the engine starts, you have to put the gear lever in the ‘D’ mode and release the brake. The car will start moving, but slowly, which is very effective in urban stop-and-go traffic. Based on how much you press the accelerator, the car will move to a higher gear, the highest being fifth.

Similar to the traditional automatic unit, the Dzire diesel AGS also comes with the ‘M’ mode—you have to slot the gear lever in the ‘M’ position and then shift gears by pushing the lever to either the ‘+’ or ‘-’ modes.

The AGS gearbox takes about half a second to change gears, which is slightly slower than what a traditional automatic transmission unit does. However, in the Dzire diesel AGS, the different is not that apparent. The reason is that the 1,248cc DDiS engine, which generates a torque of 190Nm@2000rpm, is powerful enough to nullify the gear-shift lag, or the feel of it.

How does it stop: Pressing the brake reduces the speed and the gears shift down automatically until the car comes to a complete stop. Then you have to shift the lever to the ‘N’ mode, switch off the engine by pressing the start button again, and engage the parking brake. Unlike most traditional automatic cars, the Dzire diesel AGS does not have a ‘P’ slot—which indicates ‘parking’—therefore engaging the parking brake is important.

The Dzire diesel AGS has a claimed mileage of 26.59kpl, same as that of the manual transmission. It is only available in the top-level ZDi trim and comes with features that are generally found in sedans one class higher. For R8.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is R49,000 costlier than the manual version, which makes it good value-for-money. The driving comfort—pardon me for using a clichéd statement—is priceless.

Maruti at the Expo

* Maruti Suzuki has announced that its pavilion at the Auto Expo 2016 is built around the theme Transformotion—which means Transformation through Motion. Besides new models and concepts, the company will showcase a new-generation vehicle platform and a new engine.

* The stars at Maruti pavilion would clearly be the compact SUV, the Vitara Brezza, and the compact urban concept vehicle, the Ignis.

* Vitara Brezza: To be globally unveiled on February 3 at the Auto Expo, the Vitara Brezza has been designed and engineered by the Maruti Suzuki development teams led by chief engineer CV Raman.

* Concept Ignis: To be unveiled on February 4, the Ignis in its concept form looks distinct.

* Concept Baleno RS and new-generation platform: Another vehicle on display will be the Concept Baleno RS, which is a sporty version of the Baleno hatchback. It will get a high-performance 1.0 BoosterJet engine and an edgy styling. It will be built on the company’s new-generation platform that is claimed to make vehicles lighter, stronger, safer, more fuel-efficient and quieter.

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