Maruti Esteem has been replaced by Dzire. Ashish Masih takes a close look

Maruti has decided to replace the old Esteem with the Swift sedan, called the Dzire. Will it manage to draw hordes of customers into Maruti showrooms just like the Swift hatchback does?

Design and engineering

The Swift Dzire looks identical to the hatchback from the front save for the chrome grille. The car has been completely redesigned from the second pillar onwards (behind the front door). The rear door has an all-new design and is bigger than that of the hatchback, with greater glass area. This ensures that the rear doesn’t feel as cramped as the hatchback. The car gets a boot with a raised trunk lid which can take good amount of luggage and a chrome strip across the lid above the number plate.

The triangular lights complete the rear. The overall design isn’t as appealing as the Swift hatchback, but that’s not to say that it looks bad. Just like the Indigo (which was developed from the Indica), we expect it to grow on us over a period of time.

Dzire hasn’t changed much on the inside, which is identical to the hatchback. You get the same modern and classy-looking dashboard. You also get chrome surrounds around the dials, which are now backlit with white lighting. The Dzire has four variants: LXi, VXi and ZXi and a ZDi (diesel variant). The base model will get black seat fabric.

The next variant will get grey fabric, while the top-of-the line variant gets beige seats with a black dashboard and door panels. We would have preferred the SX4-style all-beige interiors, which would have also gone a long way in making the cabin feel roomier.

The top variant gets steering wheel-mounted audio controls along with an integrated stereo. The stereo is intuitive to operate and delivers decent sound quality as well. The steering wheel has good grip and measures right. On the whole appears decent, but some plastics like that found below the stereo, the controls for the AC and circular AC vents could have got a better finish.

You get roughly the same legroom as in the Swift, and that’s disappointing, especially compared to the Logan and Indigo. Engineers have increased the width of the rear seats and have also inclined the rear backrest compared to the hatchback, which we feel is a tad too much, ensuring that passengers slouch rather than sit upright. The bigger rear door with the larger glass area ensures that you won’t feel as claustrophobic as you do in the Swift hatchback. Three can sit in the rear but the limited legroom causes discomfort on a long journey. The wide rear door and the high-set seats mean that getting in and out of the car isn’t a chore.

Engine and gearbox

The Dzire uses the same engine as the Swift. Weighing only around 30kg over the regular Swift ensures that performance is similar to the smaller hatchback. The fine steering combined with the slick gearbox and the smooth clutch makes driving this car an enjoyable experience no matter what is powering it, diesel or petrol. The diesel will wow you with its pulling power, which it generates in abundance once past the 2,000 rpm mark.

The motor responds well to throttle inputs and has a generous power band. The best power is between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. The diesel motor impresses with its refined nature. The petrol motor loves to be revved and picks up speed rapidly when pushed. The silky nature of the engine means you’ll enjoy pushing it to the upper end of its power band.

Verdict

Maruti hadn’t announced the prices when we drove the Dzire but you can expect it to be around Rs. 40,000 - 50,000 over the identical-spec Swift, which makes it a good deal especially considering that the top-end ZXi/ZDi variant comes loaded with ABS, airbags and steering-mounted stereo controls.

Where the Dzire disappoints is in the legroom, but the boot is adequate and you can also expect the car to deliver on fuel efficiency. If you do not like the Logan/Indigo’s looks or cabin quality,then the Dzire is for you.

Technical Data

Swift Dzire

Price: Rs 4.6 lakh - Rs. 6 lakh (estimate)

Engine Engine layout: 4 cyls in line, 1.3l petrol, 1.3l turbodiesel

Max Power: 87/75bhp (petrol/diesel)

Max Torque: 11.3/19.37kgm

Boot capacity: 440 litres

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