The new Dzire gets the same 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor as the old car and its output figures of 83bhp and 113Nm are unchanged too. Thanks to it being considerably lighter, the performance gain is significant and in any situation the potent motor always feels more than adequate. Prod the throttle and the lightweight Dzire leaps forward with lot of zest. The motor is responsive and has a linear tug from low engine speeds, which makes it great for city commutes. In fact, the motor feels so willing that you can get away in third gear from as low as 20kmph without any judder or vibration from the motor. As a result, you don’t need to change gears frequently. But if you want to, the crisp and quick gearbox is quite nice to use. The light and short throw allows you to execute a quick shift with just the flick of a wrist, and this reduces the stress on the driver even further. This engine revs quite freely but gets quite vocal when you near the 6200rpm redline. As a result it registered some impressive times on our Vbox timing gear. Zero to 100kmph is executed in a quick 11.92 seconds which makes it much quicker than the outgoing car and even drivability test time of 12.84sec for 20-80kmph in third gear is impressive for a naturally aspirated petrol motor.
We also tried the AMT version of the petrol car. We have driven quite a few AMT gearbox shod cars and most of them are good on the pocket but not so much on performance. But like in the Ignis, Maruti engineers have done a commendable job of tuning this basic auto transmission and made it feel as close to a conventional torque converter gearbox as possible. Slot the gear shifter into D and the Dzire moves forward in a smooth manner. Unlike the diesel AMT, the gearshifts are much smoother and unless you dump the accelerator pedal, it remains relatively smooth. Whether it be ambling along in the city or even cruising steadily on the highway, this gearbox works really well. It shows it’s basic roots when you are in need of instant change of pace, and if you put your foot down hard, the gearbox struggles to drop the gears quickly and there is a brief pause before the power is delivered, which can leave you stranded halfway through an emergency overtaking manoeuvre. So it’s better to plan your overtaking moves well in advance and gently feed in the power so that you can run through the gears smoothly. The best mode for going quickly, however, is the gear lever-operated tiptronic manual, which will hold gears. While for everyday driving, the auto modes work great, its only if you are in a real hurry, will you will feel the need to swap cogs yourself. During our acceleration runs, the Dzire petrol AMT posted decent numbers. Zero to 100kmph was despatched in 12.86seconds and drivability (kickdown) times of 8.28sec for 20-80kmph and 9.95sec for 40-100kmph are respectable too.
For a car that is meant to be a family sedan, the Dzire is quite stiffly sprung but not overtly so. At low speeds, the ride quality is a bit jiggly over uneven surfaces, but not to the point of being jarring. Increase the pace and the ride smoothens out and the new Dzire always feels planted thanks to the flat and consistent ride. With a full load too, the suspension copes well and there’s none of that bobbing motion you encounter in the old car.
Thanks to the super-light steering, the Dzire is nimble and easy to punt around town and the tight turning circle helps too. However, enthusiasts looking for fun behind the wheel will be hugely disappointed with the steering which is totally devoid of feel. The steering is also reluctant to self-centre especially at low speeds, which further makes you feel disconnected from the road.