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Maruti Suzuki Dzire vs Hyundai Xcent vs VW Ameo

Introduction

Analysis shows that the sedan segment is shrinking in favour of SUVs and crossovers. But when the car in question is the Maruti Dzire, this statistic is thrown right out of the window. Maruti has sold nearly 1.5 million units of Dzire till date and now they have come out with a brand-new model.

On paper it gets all the goodies and armed with a new chassis, that is bigger and lighter than before, it definitely has the potential to win our hearts. Competition is stiff though and rivals haven’t been standing still. The Hyundai Xcent recently got major upgrades both in terms of design and hardware. It now sports a more matured design language from the recently launched Elantra and the diesel motor is uprated to 1.2-litres, which makes more power and torque. You can’t discount the impressive Volkswagen Ameo too. In diesel guise, it is the most powerful in the segment and the strong German build is evident in this compact sedan. 

So who wins? A comprehensive comparison test will deliver the answers.

 

Design language

Let’s get one thing straight, none of these cars will win any design contests. As these sedans exploit the sub-four metre rule, designing a three box car in such a tight confine will always result in a compromise. The Dzire surprisingly looks the most convincing (the old car was rather odd looking) and balanced of the three. The Aston Martin-like grille, wide haunches and a stubby boot gives it enough flair and even in profile it looks like a proper sedan thanks to the well-defined three-box design. 

The Xcent too has a well-integrated boot section and now with wrap-around tail-lamps and a sportier rear bumper, it looks much more alluring than before. Up-front, the large hexagonal grille is inspired from the larger Elantra. Unfortunately it doesn’t go too well on the Xcent. Thanks to the car's narrow dimensions, the XXL grille and headlamps look too big and cramped in a tight space. 

To make a sub-four metre sedan based on the VW Polo was always going to be tricky, considering that the hatchback itself is just 29 mm short of the 4m brief. So understandably the Ameo looks the most awkward as compared to the other two cars here. It carries over body panels from the Polo till the C-pillar post which VW has tried hard to squeeze in the boot. Such is the lack of space that VW had to literally chop-off the boot-line as soon as the car neared its restricted length. 

The Dzire not only looks the most balanced, it is also by far the widest car of the bunch which should aid interior space considerably. Despite the large body, the Dzire is surprisingly the lightest, at an impressive 980kg with the Xcent being 110kg heavier and the Ameo weighing a massive 200kg more (figures from our weighing scale).

Premium insides

The cabin of the new Dzire looks more mature and upmarket. The layered dashboard is uncluttered with the large touchscreen infotainment system dominating proceedings. This system also features Apple CarPlay and the screen itself is crisp and functionality is easy too. Quality has improved considerably over the old car but the Hyundai Xcent still holds an edge as far as fit and finish is concerned.

The Xcent, on the other hand, has the simplest of layout of the three. But this Hyundai’s trump card is the consistency of quality all over the cabin. Ergonomically, it’s quite sound too and the fact that the touchscreen is mounted high-up makes it easy to use on the move. Like with the Maruti, this infotainment system features both Apple CarPlay as well as Android and the graphics are crisp and it works smoothly too.

Like the exterior, most of the cabin bits of the Ameo is shared with the Polo. As a result you get the same dashboard which, although still good on quality, has started to look old. Overall quality isn’t as consistent as the Hyundai, but on the flip side, it feels the heftiest and the chunky door shut makes it feel more robust than the other two. The Ameo’s infotainment screen at 5 inches is the smallest in this test and it lacks the modern features and graphics of the other two. 

Moving to comfort, the front seats on the Dzire are the most supportive, closely followed by the Ameo and the Xcent. At the rear, it’s a close contest between the Hyundai and the Maruti, but the Dzire marginally comes out on top here as well. It has the most amount of kneeroom (30mm more), more shoulder room and seats are extra supportive too. Where the Hyundai is better, is in terms of headroom and seat cushioning that is firm but not overtly so. The Ameo, in comparison, feels too cramped at the back and the small windows and big front seats make it claustrophobic. On a brighter note, the Ameo has decent shoulder room and it also boasts of the best ingress height of the three.

All three cars are practical with lots of storage spaces, but the Ameo, thanks to a big glovebox and large door pockets, is slightly better than the other two. On the flipside, the Ameo has the smallest boot in this group and the opening is the narrowest too. The Xcent has the biggest and the most usable boot at 407 litres followed close by the Dzire at 378 litres.  

All three cars are pretty well equipped and have unique features in their own right. Where the Xcent and the Dzire come across as more loaded as compared to the Ameo at first glance, a closer look at the spec sheet reveals a different picture. Although the VW lacks features like key-less go, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled infotainment system, it comes with equipment like rain sensing wipers, cruise control, tilt telescopic steering adjust, one touch up and down function for all four power windows and auto dimming rear-view mirror which the other two don’t offer.

Diesel grunt

The Dzire diesel comes with the same 1.3 litre 74bhp Fiat-sourced Multijet engine. Although there is no jump in power figures, the new Dzire being significantly lighter helps improve its overall performance. Power delivery is the least progressive in the group but still it feels relatively strong at low revs too. Post 1800rpm is where the action is, and the strong mid-range is where you should aim to be when you are driving. The combination of light kerb weight and strong motor helps the Dzire post some impressive times. The 0-100kph is reached in a quick 12.38 seconds (which makes it the second fastest car here) and even the in-gear time of 11.50 seconds for 20-80kph in third gear is quite impressive despite the initial turbo-lag. 

The Volkswagen Ameo has the biggest and most powerful diesel engine – 1.5-litre, 108bhp and 250Nm of torque, and it is comfortably the fastest car even on the road. The extra displacement ensures that it gets off the line in a hurry and the flat torque curve delivers an even and steady surge up until 4200rpm. It’s also a breeze to overtake with in the Ameo. Numbers wise, 100kmph is dispatched in an impressive 10.85 seconds and the in-gear times are the best too.

The Xcent’s updated 1.2-litre diesel motor punches well above its weight. This three-cylinder motor feels responsive right from idle, with no turbo lag to report. Even when you give it the stick, this low capacity motor responds quite well. Although from behind the wheel, the Xcent feels quick enough, it still falls short of the other two when tested against the clock. It takes 16.74 seconds to reach 100kmph and the top speed of 162kmph is the lowest of the group too.

In terms of engine refinement, the Dzire does quite well thanks to the impressive sound insulation. The biggest surprise here is the Hyundai, despite having a three-cylinder engine. Save for vibrations at idle, the engine runs smoothly and sound insulation is best among the three. The VW Ameo’s motor is by far the least refined as it sounds gruff and the typical sharp diesel clatter is present all through the rev range.

On the road

The lighter chassis has not only helped its straight-line performance but it has taken the dynamics a notch higher too. The Dzire drives over the broken roads with utter ease and nothing seems to faze this compact sedan. What’s also special is the flat and consistent manner in which the suspension works. At lower speeds, you do feel some firmness especially when the car isn’t loaded. But still, it never gets uncomfortable and the ride comfort is one of Dzire’s strengths. 

The Hyundai Xcent has a cushy ride too but it can’t match the Dzire when it comes to suspension refinement and damping consistency. Medium-sized potholes are dispatched with ease but it gets caught out by sharp-edged bumps, as the suspension tends to thud through them. Even on an undulating highway, there is more up and down motion in the Hyundai and the brakes feel a bit spongy too.

The Ameo, on the other hand, feels the most stable on the highway. The relatively heavy steering gives you lot of confidence and the ride is consistent too. But at low speeds, the Ameo feels the stiffest as you feel more of the road surface as compared to the other two. Sound insulation is the worst of the three, as you get more road and wind noise inside the VW cabin. 

When it comes to handling, here too, the well calibrated suspension on the Dzire doesn’t disappoint. Through corners, the Dzire shows good poise with well-contained body roll. It feels nimble and the well-judged controls ensures a stress-free drive in both city and on the highway. The Xcent gives you a disconnected driving experience as the car tends to roll more than the Dzire and the light steering,  although good in the city, feels a bit too inert at high speeds. The Ameo has the most accurate steering and it weighs up more consistently too. But around bends, this VW’s heavy kerb weight plays spoil sport and it doesn’t change direction with the same enthusiasm as the Maruti. The steering feels quite heavy at low speeds too which makes city driving a chore.

Wallet friendly

The Hyundai Xcent is the most fuel efficient of the three followed closely by the Maruti Dzire. It returned an impressive 14.9kmpl and 19.3kmpl in the city and highway cycles respectively. On the other hand, the Dzire returned 14.6kmpl in the city and 19.1kmpl on the highway. The VW Ameo, despite having the biggest and by far the most powerful motor returned decent efficiency figures. It gave 14.1 kmpl in the city and 19.1 kmpl on the highway. Thanks to the larger tank of the Ameo goes the furthest before needing a refuel. 

The Maruti Dzire diesel in the top ZDi + variant is the most expensive with it costing Rs 10.37 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai). The VW Ameo comes in a close second with an on-road, Mumbai price of Rs 10.25 lakhs. Despite having loads of equipment, the Xcent in the SX(O) trim is the most affordable of the three here. It costs Rs 9.80 lakh on-road, Mumbai

Verdict

3rd

Volkswagen Ameo TDi M/T

Final score: 375/600

Price: Rs 10.25 lakh, On-road Mumbai

The VW Ameo is a likeable car. It has the best performance, best build and cabin quality is quite good too. But the biggest stumbling block for this compact sedan is the rear seat which is cramped and even the small boot limits its practicality. The fact that it is the least refined and isn’t as well equipped as the other two further marks it down. 

2nd

Hyundai Xcent CRDi M/T

Final score: 376/600

Price: Rs 9.80 lakh, On-road Mumbai

The Xcent is more likable, with a great cabin, lots of equipment, it is also easy to drive, is efficient and is good value for money too. It’s a well-rounded product but now with the arrival of the new Dzire it feels a notch lower in almost every department. It comes second best to the Dzire when it comes to cabin space, performance, dynamics and features. 

1st

Maruti Suzuki Dzire ZDi +

Final score: 388/600

Price: Rs 10.37 lakh, On-road Mumbai

As you would have figured by now, there are no major weaknesses in the new Dzire.  It gets a premium cabin, elegant exteriors, good interior space, loads of equipment, is very practical and the lighter new chassis has improved performance as well as dynamics too. The new Dzire not only looks better than before, it has upped its game in nearly every department and is our clear winner.

Specification

CAR NAME Maruti Dzire Hyundai Xcent Volkswagen Ameo
Variant M/T ZDi + SX(O) Highline M/T
ENGINE      
Fuel Diesel Diesel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1248cc 3 cyls, 1186cc 4 cyls, 1498cc
Bore/stroke 69.6/82mm NA 77/80.5mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl
Power 74bhp at 4000rpm 74bhp at 4000rpm 109bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 190Nm at 2000rpm 190Nm at 1750rpm 250Nm at 1500rpm
Power to weight 75.51bhp per tonne 67.88bhp per tonne 92.37bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 193.87Nm per tonne 174.31Nm per tonne 211.86Nm per tonne
Gearbox 5-speed manual 5-speed manual 5-speed manual
CHASSIS & BODY      
Kerb weight(measured) 980kg 1090kg 1180kg
Tyres 185/65 R15 175/60 R15 185/60 R15
Spare Full-size Full-size Full-size
STEERING      
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric Electric
Turning circle 9.6m 9.8m 10m
BRAKES      
Front Discs Discs Discs
Rear Drums Drums Drums
Anti-lock Yes Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Maruti Dzire Hyundai Xcent Volkswagen Ameo
Variant ZDi+ SX(O) Highline
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING      
0-20kph 1.06s 1.31s 1.56s
0-40kph 2.54s 3.22s 3.11s
0-60kph 4.81s 5.78s 4.90s
0-80kph 8.14s 9.93s 7.60s
0-100kph 12.38s 16.74s 10.85s
0-120kph 19.00s 26.42s 15.74s
       
20-80kph in 3rd gear 11.52s 13.82s 9.72s
40-100kph in 4th gear 14.50s 14.48s 11.07s
       
80-0kph 26.37m 24.04m 27.38m
FUEL ECONOMY      
City 14.6kpl 14.9kpl 14.1kpl
Highway 19.1kpl 19.3kpl 19.1kpl
Tank size 37 litres 43 litres 45 litres
Range 530km 630km 640km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS      
Front      
Legroom(Max/min) 890/660mm 800/600mm 860/640mm
Headroom(Max/min) 980mm 960mm 940mm
Shoulder room 1260mm 1320mm 1290mm
Backrest height 620mm 570mm 590mm
Rear       
Legroom(Max/min) 900/650mm 850/640mm 810/570mm
Ideal legroom 720mm 690mm 620mm
Headroom 900mm 960mm 930mm
Shoulder room 1300mm 1230mm 1250mm
Seat base length 470mm 490mm 460mm
Backrest height 630mm 580mm 560mm
Boot (measured) 461litres 511itres 426litres
Length/width/height 740/1040/600mm 870/1050/560mm 780/960/570mm
Loading lip height 710mm

700mm

670mm
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Maruti Suzuki Dzire Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 6.81 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 7.01 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 6.4 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 6.85 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 7.03 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 6.84 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 6.76 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 6.71 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 6.52 Lakhs onwards
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