Maruti has the most number of cars in the sub-four metre segment – 12 to be precise. The idea of having maximum products in the price sensitive entry-level segments, where a difference of even Rs 20,000 can change buying decisions makes sense. But in the case of Maruti it continues to higher segments as well – in the price range of Rs 7.45 lakh to Rs 7.95 lakh – the buyers have a choice of opting for either a compact sedan, premium hatch or now even the compact SUV.
Since all of them are designed to take advantage of the tax regime, they are bound to be under four metres in length. In this case, all of them are precisely 3,995mm. As expected, the Vitara Brezza with the SUV body-style is the tallest at 1,640mm while the Baleno in hatchback form is the shortest at 1,500mm; the Dzire is 1,555mm high. Also, in terms of width, the Vitara leads over the two with a measurement of 1,790mm; the Baleno is 1,745mm and the Dzire is 1,695mm.
In terms of wheelbase, which is considered to be an important aspect for cabin space, the Baleno and Vitara are just 20mm apart. But the Baleno at 2,520mm, leads. As expected, the Dzire with three-box design has the shortest wheelbase of 2,430mm. The hatchback with a deep boot is also marginally bigger than the other two at 339litres, the Vitara and Dzire have boot space of 328litres and 320litres respectively.
The Dzire loses out to both the Vitara and the Baleno in dimensions, but it is the only with a boot independent of the cabin. Among the other two, the compact SUV is taller and wider, while the hatchback has longer wheelbase and a bigger boot.
The variants we opted for in the comparison all have ABS-EBD and front airbags as standard equipment. While the Baleno Zeta and the Vitara VDi are second to top trims, the Dzire is the top-end ZDi version. The compact sedan then has the most number of features, it has the engine start-stop button, electrically retractable ORVMs, reverse camera and sensors, rear armrest, fog lamps and steering mounted audio controls.
The Baleno comes second in terms of features, it has LED tail lamps, automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver armrest, rear wiper, chrome package and follow me home headlamps. The Vitara Brezza in the VDi (O) trim, hardly gets any features – it misses out even on the basics like driver height adjustment and a detailed instrument cluster.
All three cars in the diesel trim use the 1.3-litre multijet diesel engine, borrowed from Fiat. The Baleno and the Dzire mills use a fixed geometry turbo and have an output of 74bhp and 200Nm, whereas the Vitara uses variable-geometry turbo that produces 89bhp and 220Nm of torque. All three of them have front-wheel drive set up and use five-speed manual transmission. Additionally, the Dzire gets the AMT transmission option for a premium. The ARAI efficiency of the hatchback, compact SUV and sedan is 27.39kmpl, 24.3kmpl and 26.59kmpl respectively.
As expected the Vitara is the heaviest of the three cars with kerb weight close to 1,200kg. The Baleno based on the new platform weighs just 980kg, while the Dzire is 1,070kg.
In the Zeta trim, the Baleno is priced at Rs 7.46 lakh (ex-Delhi), has decent number of features and also the best efficiency of the three. The Vitara priced at Rs 7.75 lakh, hardly gets any features but has the best street presence and also the most powerful engine. The top-spec Dzire loses out on dimensions and even engine performance, but has the most number of features, with the price tag of Rs 7.91 lakh.