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Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel: Comparison Test


Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

This is one great motoring recipe for cities like Mumbai, Delhi and every other congested metro wherein your average speeds are less than 20kmph and bumper-to-bumper traffic is more a norm than the exception. We are talking automatics of course; cars wherein you don’t need to tire yourself out by constant clutching and declutching to move just a few inches every fifth minute.

But, if you had a budget of around Rs 10 lakh and wanted a diesel automatic, you got nothing till the Tata Zest rolled out sometime in 2014. Then came the TUV300 – which ran into some recall issues – and finally in early January 2016, Maruti entered the scene with its Dzire.

But, these weren’t automatics in the traditional sense. In this class of cars besides driving convenience, low maintenance and acquisition cost, and high fuel economy are equally important; aspects regular autos have failed to deliver on over time.  Enter AMT or automated manual transmissions.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

These are essentially manual gearboxes but because they don’t require the driver to use the third pedal or shift gears, these are also broadly classified as autos. The car itself handles the work of engaging and disengaging the clutch and shifting gears. And spec-for-spec, these only cost around Rs 50,000 more than their manual versions for the cars mentioned here. Proper autos can cost over a lakh more.

Now, to the topic at hand. We have omitted the TUV300 here even though it is under Rs 10 lakh, is diesel, and comes with an AMT for the simple reason, it is an SUV; a different need, a different mindset, and a different story altogether. Instead we decided to ask ourselves a more focused question: Which is the best diesel powered, AMT equipped, compact sedan? Here’s the long essay answer…

Feature play

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

We have the top of the line versions of the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the Tata Zest here; namely the ZDI AMT and the XTA. And these are pretty well equipped for their price. There’s ABS and two front airbags for safety, in addition to a long list of comfort equipment.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

Both cars get a multi-functional steering with tilt adjust, height adjustable driver’s seat, single zone climate control system, and audio systems with AUX, USB and Bluetooth. The Zest’s system though is a touchscreen one with integrated satnav and much better sound quality. In fact, we also prefer the operability of the steering mounted controls and the climate control system of the Zest. The two have one feature unique to themselves nonetheless – the Dzire gets keyless start while the Zest gets projector type headlamps.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

The Dzire meanwhile has the better cabin design overall. It feels richer, more airy, and it has larger, more supportive seats. The build quality, the fit and finish and the quality overall (plastic included) is better on the Dzire as well. The Maruti has better visibility and it has more stowage spaces making it the more practical cabin. The Maruti does lose out to the Zest in terms of space, however. The latter offers more kneeroom even though the two cars are exactly the same length. But, the Zest is wider and this translates into more shoulder room at the rear, and its taller dimension also results in greater headroom all round.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

Engine connection

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

The Tata Zest and the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire use the exact same Fiat engine. It’s the 1.3-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel that can also be found in some GM vehicles in India. This engine is available in India in two states of tune – 74bhp and 89bhp. Maruti has decided to go for the fixed geometry turbo-equipped 74bhp version mated to a 5-speed gearbox. The Zest meanwhile uses the VGT or variable geometry turbo 89bhp variant, again with a 5-speed ‘box.

A VGT, in theory, is supposed to cut turbo lag and one can feel that linearity in power delivery on the Tata from the word go, especially in comparison to the Dzire at lower revs. Sadly, that’s where the good news for the Zest ends.

Maruti somehow manages to extract the best from this engine. The turbo lag apart, the Dzire has better throttle response, the engine revs higher, and it makes much better use of its 190Nm of peak torque output compared to the 200Nm the Zest puts out.

Now before we jump into the performance figures, let’s talk AMT.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

The two cars use different gearboxes but the AMT setup – which uses separate ECU to work those hydraulic actuators and time their inputs – are from the same supplier. But, the Dzire’s unit is more intuitive and seamless in its operation. It still has that typical AMT shift lag, but the lag is only as much as it would be in a manual driven by a regular guy, and not by someone chasing the quickest 0-100kmph times. Having said that the AMT equipped Dzire diesel is only 0.3 seconds off the manual Dzire diesel times; the latter was of course, driven to extract the quickest possible acceleration times.

The Zest’s AMT behaves like one of those laid-back taxi guys chasing fuel economy. It is slower reacting than the Maruti’s. It has duller throttle response. And though it comes with a Sport mode, which gives its AMT a much-needed spring in its step, it never feels as well calibrated and smooth as the Maruti’s. Worst of all, the Zest’s AMT doesn’t come with a ‘creep’ function, a must really for any automatic. The Dzire gets it.

Both AMT ‘boxes also come with manual override. In Dzire’s case, the engine doesn’t upshift on its own and will continue to bang off the limiter if the driver chooses not to upshift; a great thing for those who like to drive enthusiastically around switchbacks. The Zest’s ‘box does hold onto revs a little longer in manual mode, but upshifts near 4,000rpm in any case. To us, this defeats the purpose of having a manual mode for an AMT.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

Now, the performance figures. The Dzire hits 100kmph in 13.7 seconds while the Zest takes 15.1 seconds. Blame it on Tata’s excess weight or the way the engine is setup but one can’t feel the 15 extra horses on the Zest. It’s the same story in drivability times. The Maruti completes the 20-80kmph run in a quick 8.6 seconds while the Zest takes 10.4 seconds to complete the same run.

It’s only in the 40-100kmph run – a test that simulates getting back to cruising speeds on the highways – that the two run neck-to-neck. In fact, the Dzire with a time of 11.4 seconds is 0.1 seconds off the Zest’s pace here. The more powerful but slower responding Tata unfortunately is also less efficient: The Zest returned an overall fuel economy figure of 13.2kmpl while the Dzire’s figure was slightly higher at 14.2kmpl.

Driving difference


Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

There’s even better news for Dzire fans for the Maruti is dynamically more sorted as well. It turns in quicker, corners flatter, and responds to steering corrections with more precision and eagerness. There’s no feel from the steering and it feels a little too dead around the center, but the Zest isn’t much better. And on the limit, with the Tata rolling more and feeling less connected overall, one can’t push the Tata as hard as the Maruti.

The Tata Zest has the plusher suspension setup nonetheless. It has more travel than the Dzire, and at slow speeds, it absorbs everything from road joints to bumps to potholes with a higher degree of pliancy. It also works better when loaded at slower city speeds. Moreover, the steering is lighter to use.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

On the highway and over broken roads though, we’d settle for the Maruti. One can feel more of the road inside the Dzire, no doubt, but it rides flatter, surer and with more confidence.

As far as city usage goes, the AMT on the Maruti gives it an edge. In slow bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Dzire’s ‘creep’ function makes it effortless to keep inching forward without having to get on the throttle at all. It also makes hill starts or exiting mall ramps easier. The Zest meanwhile can be quite theatrical.

Because the Tata doesn’t get ‘creep’ and its clutch takes forever to engage, there’s no response from the car in the initial few millimetres of throttle travel. So, you gas it some more. And the moment you do, the clutch engages and the car leaps forward with its front wheels spinning. Imagine this in chock-a-block traffic; yes, it can be disconcerting. It’s an equally uphill task when one needs to get going on an incline.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel


Tata Zest XTA: Rank 2

Final Score: 360/600

Price: Rs 10.32 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

The Zest AMT has its pluses. It has plush slow speed ride, a light steering, and linear power delivery lower down the rev range. The slow nature of the AMT isn’t so much of a bother at slow speeds either. However, as a car for every season, the Zest has shortcomings. It doesn’t get the ‘creep’ function for its AMT, it’s not as torquey as its specs suggest, and that AMT is no fun if you are in a hurry. Plus, it is more expensive…and less efficient than the Maruti.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire ZDI AMT: Rank 1

Final Score: 371/600

Price: Rs 10.13 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT Diesel vs Tata Zest AMT Diesel

The Dzire AMT isn’t without its shortcomings either. Personally, I don’t like the way it looks, and then it has a small boot, a steering that’s unnecessarily heavy at slow speeds, and ride quality that’s nowhere near best in class. But, in this test, the Dzire stands out. It’s the better AMT car; it has better performance and fuel economy, nicer interiors, and an element of fun, which is missing on the Zest. Bottom-line is, no matter how you look at it, the Dzire AMT is the better product here…and, therefore, our winner.

Pictures by Kapil Angane

The Zest XMA variant in the pictures is only for representational purposes.

Click here for Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT and Tata Zest AMT equipment and features

Click here to read our Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT First Drive 

Click Here to read our spec comparo of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire AMT vs Tata Zest AMT


CAR NAME Maruti Suzuki Dzire AMT Tata Zest AMT
Variant ZDi XTA
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse  Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1248cc 4 cyls, 1248cc
Bore/stroke 69.6/82mm 69.6/82mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl DOHC 4 valves per cyl DOHC
Power 74bhp at 4000rpm 89bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 190Nm at 2000rpm 200Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight 69.15bhp per tonne 76.07bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 177.57Nm per tonne 170.94Nm per tonne
Gearbox 5-speed AMT 5-speed AMT
Kerb weight 1070kg 1155-1170kg
Tyres 185/65 R15 185/65 R15
Spare Full Size Full Size
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric
Turning circle 9.6m 10.2m
Front Ventilated Discs Ventilated Discs
Rear Drum Drum
Anti-lock Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Maruti Suzuki Dzire AMT Tata Zest AMT
Variant ZDi XTA
0-20kmph 1.0s 1.09
0-40kmph 3.01s 3.61s
0-60kmph 5.29s 6.57s
0-80kmph 9.15s 9.78s
0-100kmph 13.67s 15.12s
0-120kmph 20.96s 21.34s
20-80kmph in 3rd gear 8.60s 10.38s
40-100kmph in 4th gear 11.39s 11.3s
80-0kmph 28.71m 28.37m
City 14.05kmpl 13.11kmpl
Highway 19.12kmpl 17.90kmpl
Tank size 42 litres 44 litres
Range 596km 584km
Legroom(Max/min) 830/6000mm 820/620mm
Headroom 1000mm 1000mm
Shoulder room 1310mm 1400mm
Backrest height 590mm 590mm
Legroom(Max/min) 880/630mm 890/680mm
Ideal legroom 720mm 740mm
Headroom 900mm 920mm
Shoulder room 1270mm 1390mm
Seat base length 480mm 510mm
Backrest height 600mm 610mm
Boot 395litres(calculated) 372litres(calculated)
Length/width/height 710/1030/540mm 730/1000/510mm
Loading lip height 740mm 790mm

Score Sheet

Parameters Max points

Maruti Suzuki

Swift Dzire AMT

Tata Zest 


Steering response 20 14 13
Directional stability 25 18 16
Engine characteristics 25 18 15
Gearbox 20 13 11
Visibility 10 6 7
Intermediate results 100 69 62
Front Space 25 15 17
Rear space 25 11 14
Feeling of space 20 11 13
Boot space/flexibility 20 13 12
Payload 10 5 5
Intermediate results 100 55 61
Comfort equipment 25 10 10
Operatibility 15 11 10
Feel of quality 20 12 11
Front seats/ingress 20 16 16
Rear seat/ingress 20 13 14
Intermediate results 100 62 61
Acceleration 25 15 13
Top speed 10 7 6
Driveability 30 18 17
Braking 25 18 19
Environment 10 6 6
Intermediate results 100 64 61
Ride quality 30 22 20
Turning circle 15 14 13
Handling 20 14 12
Manoeuvrability 15 12 11
Safety 20 4 4
Intermediate results 100 66 60
Price 45 20 20
Resale 10 8 6
Warranty 10 4 8
Fuel efficiency 35 23 21
Intermediate results 100 55 55
Total 600 371 360
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