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Maruti Suzuki Dzire Vs Tata Nexon

Introduction

It is one of the most hotly contested battles in the Indian car market today. Yes, we are talking about the battle of SUVs versus sedans and it is only going to get bigger and bigger. On one hand, you have the sedan, the traditional choice and in the other, you have SUVs, the new ambition for the new age car buyer.

On the sedan end, we have the Maruti Suzuki Dzire which is one of the most successful cars not just for Maruti, but in India too. This new generation, a significant step up from the old car, has once again managed to scale the charts.
The SUV camp is represented here by Tata Nexon. It is the Indian automaker’s latest SUV which looks to be a strong rival to the Dzire. So we decided to put them together and see what they have to offer.

On The Face of Things


In the previous generation, the Dzire was turned into a compact sedan. Now although that car was a solid product, it was very difficult not to see it as a Swift with a boot. That issue has been addressed with this car and it looks far more proportionate.

There are swathes of chrome all around and the head lamps sit like wedges. However, it’s the silhouette which highlights the odd proportions of the compact sedan design. The flared wheel arches give the car its stance while the large chrome strip at the back ties in well with the tail lamps.

Where the Dzire is all chrome and straights, the Nexon is all about the curves. You get a smiley face, signature Tata grille and a forward leaning stance with swanky looking alloy wheels. Where the design gets really funky is at the rear, thanks to so many elements and colours being in play.

It may look like a hotchpotch, but take a closer look and you can see direction and symmetry in the layout.  Okay, let us be honest, taking these cars for their looks is somewhat like comparing apples with oranges. They look different on the outside, but both are appealing in their own way. 

Cabin Talk

Cabin design nowadays usually mirrors the theme for its exteriors. However, before we dig into the finer details, let us look at some of the facts. Both the cars are the top-of-the-line models. They both get a touchscreen infotainment system, climate control with rear vents, button start, two 12V sockets, split folding rear seats, dual front airbags, cooled glove box, pockets on all of the doors and cup holders, both in the front and rear.

Let us begin with the Dzire. Step in and you are greeted by a space filled with beige and black. Adding to this mix are faux wood inserts in the dashboard, steering wheel and door cards. It feels airy and light thanks to the colours.

Slip into the driver’s seat and everything falls quite easy at hand - a fact that is enhanced by the slight driver oriented nature of the centre console. The design is stacked but simple, and with minimal clutter. It is not eye catching, but there is a visible purpose to everything. The front seats are comfortable and actually offer decent under-thigh support while the view through the windshield is really good. Quality is consistent but not great and lots of the buttons and stalks are common across the Maruti budget range.

With a new platform, Maruti has been able to liberate more space at the rear both in the cabin as well as in the boot. Two can sit comfortably in the rear while three is a squeeze, thanks to the presence of the floor-mounted vents. The roofline is low and the door line is high, giving you the impression that you are actually sitting low in the cabin. This also reduces the under thigh support but it ensures that you have sufficient headroom.

The Tata Nexon’s cabin is a grey and black affair with subtle dabs of chrome all around. Where the Dzire feels airy and traditional, the Nexon’s hints at a sportier appeal. The entire setup in front of the driver looks very familiar as it makes use of the same steering and instrument cluster as the Tiago and Tigor.

The piece de resistance here, of course, is the floating display for the infotainment system as well as the centre console with a Land Rover style sliding door. Visually, these elements lend a premium feel to the car but when you look further, the centre console is too deep and narrow while the Harman infotainment system has slower response times as compared to the one found in the Dzire.

The Nexon is the same length as the Dzire, but it is wider and higher with the additional space being very visible in terms of shoulder room and legroom. It is billed as a five seater, but like the Dzire, the rear AC vents will not make things very comfortable for the middle occupant. The driving experience in the Nexon is pretty good, but the side view gets blocked out due to the thick A-pillars and C-pillars and this is quite annoying in our heavy and unruly urban traffic.

The Dzire has a bigger boot at 378-litres as compared to the Nexon’s 350-litre one but thanks to large wheel arches jutting into the boot space, you realistically have lesser space to use in the former. The Nexon’s got a higher loading lip, but you can pack more stuff in, thanks to the higher roofline. 

The Nexon’s approach to interior design is a fresh take on things and visually, it trumps the Dzire. But, the Dzire build quality is much better. This has allowed it to gain just a marginal lead in this round.

Under The Hood

The Dzire gets the evergreen 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel unit which has been fitted to this car in the 74bhp/190Nm state of tune with a five-speed gearbox doing transmission duties. In the Nexon, it is a new 1.5-litre unit producing 108bhp/265Nm with a six-speed manual doing transmission duties.

 

There is a bit of turbo lag in the case of the Dzire and most of the action takes place after 2000rpm mark. Once the turbo has spooled up, you can quickly get access to a good mid-range which allows for good drivability both in the city as well as out on the highway. However, it’s a noisy engine and is quite audible in the cabin despite Maruti Suzuki improving the NVH insulation for the car significantly.

The Nexon’s diesel motor is as gravel-toned as the one found in the Dzire and because it is bigger, it is also louder too. There is minimal lag and the action begins at the 1500rpm mark where you can feel the turbo spool up, thus giving you a nice shove forward.  The six-speed box means you have closer ratios allowing you to reach that sweet spot of the engine quicker.

Thanks to the sixth gear you can be doing 100kmph at just 1800rpm, a point of decent balance with regard to performance and economy. The throws for the six-speed box smoother than the Dzire’s five-speed unit, but clutch action feels much heavier on the Nexon than the former. Unlike the Dzire, the Nexon also gets various driving modes and this alters the throttle response depending on the drive mode.

In our tests, the Dzire and Nexon both took the same amount of time to do the sprint from 0-20kmph (1.06 seconds) and from here to 100kmph, the Dzire is significantly faster than the Nexon. However, once you go past the 100kmph, the Dzire begins to run out of steam and is beaten by the Nexon by more than a second to the 120kmph mark. No doubt, the Nexon’s additional torque and tall sixth gear help it keep the steam going at the top end of the scale. The larger torque figure becomes evidently beneficial when you look at the roll-on test figures for both cars, where the Nexon has a clear upper hand over the Dzire. On the fuel efficiency front, the Nexon achieves 13.9kmpl in the city and 18.7kmpl out on the highway while the Dzire in the same tests did 14.6kmpl and 19.1kmpl.

On the face of it, the Dzire is ahead but when you see that the Nexon’s numbers are not too far behind, we can tell that it’s a close fight and in every day driving conditions, Tata’s contender will do a better job.

Ride and Handling

The new platform for the Dzire has resulted in Maruti stiffening the chassis to retain the ride quality. But this is not a bad thing as the car is well composed and manages to tackle even nasty pot holes with ease. You do feel the stiffness at low speed, but it doesn’t affect the ride quality.

With the Nexon, it’s stiffer than the Dzire at slow speeds and you do get thrown around when you approach the imperfections with the same process as the Dzire. It's also quite audible thanks to the longer travel but if you increase your pace, the Nexon’s suspension shows its ability by gliding over them without throwing back much or affecting your pace. This, combined with the high ground clearance, is useful on our not-so-perfect rural roads as well as city roads. 

Round the corners, the Nexon has the upper hand as it feels much more composed than the Dzire. Where the Dzire’s steering becomes really light at high speeds, the Nexon’s feels heavy all the time and this is helpful when you need to get going quickly. Its cause is no doubt helped by the chunky tyres and 16-inch wheels. The SUV design means you do have body roll, but it is all controllable and you have to drive the Nexon in a composed manner, gliding it from point to point.

Verdict

The Dzire is the traditional player here and over the course of two generations, it’s taken the market by storm. No doubt, a part of the product’s success is down to the image that Maruti Suzuki holds. 
Add another Rs 50,000 to the price of the Dzire and you can have the Nexon. Now Tata has always done well when it comes to SUVs and by the look of things; it should not be too hard for the Nexon to add to that reputation.
If you have seen by now, it is evident that the Nexon as a product is a big step for Tata, taking it forward by quite a bit. It is big on attention both on the inside and outside and has the performance and ability to take on our roads. However, the Dzire is far more successful as a product (no doubt helped by the Maruti badge) thus giving it that marginal edge over the Nexon in this comparison.

Photos: Kaustubh Gandhi

Maruti Suzuki Dzire First Drive Review

Tata Nexon Road Test

 

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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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