Here’s a little factoid – the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire is the second-largest selling car in India. I think this is a remarkable thing, not just because of the numbers involved, but because the Dzire flies off the shelves despite looking a bit… odd (I’m being polite here). I will admit to being biased against the Swift Dzire’s design, notwithstanding the car’s many pluses – it’s always looked like a Swift hatchback with a boot slapped on almost as an afterthought, a result of the excise benefits gained from building sedans that are under four metres in length. To be fair to the car, I’ve never been a fan of the other compact sedans in the market either – but I think I may be willing to make an exception in the case of the all-new Dzire (they’ve dropped the ‘Swift’ part of the name).

I maintain that cars in this segment aren’t going to win any design awards, but at least the Dzire now looks like it was sketched all at once, as opposed to its predecessor. All its lines flow quite smoothly, and from the front, it looks like a more grown-up and premium car, with the headlamps, grille and chrome bumper inserts combining well. The car’s rump is much easier on the eye as well, with new LED tail-lamps freshening things up. All told, the new Dzire has a pleasing presence on the road, something which the older car lacked.

Significantly, it also has a far better cabin. The top end car I was driving had a pretty classy beigeand-black theme, with faux wood inserts on the dashboard and on the new, flatbottomed steering wheel. The instruments are well laid out, and I particularly liked the way in which the touchscreen is angled slightly toward the driver, making access easier. The seats are very comfortable as well, making long drives a breeze, and your pals at the back will appreciate the extra leg and shoulder room that the Dzire has to offer (its wheelbase is longer, and it’s wider); the boot is bigger, too.

On the go, the Dzire feels lighter on its feet, because of a drop in its weight. The two engines on offer are the very definition of ‘tried and tested’ – an 83 bhp, 1.2-litre petrol and a 75 bhp, 1.3-litre diesel (four cylinders, both). If it’s a bit of driving excitement you seek, the petrol with a manual 5-speed gearbox is the one to plump for – it’s smooth, very refined, builds up power nicely and the gearbox is a delight to use. The diesel engine is for those who value fuel efficiency, but it’s very useable as well, although it does get a little noisy once the revs build. Both engines can be optioned with 5-speed automatic gearboxes – they’re totally fuss-free to use, but aren’t the most sprightly in terms of responsiveness.

The Dzire’s ride quality is to be commended highly, and has gone up several notches over the older car. It takes everything in its stride, and you’d have to drive like an idiot over bad roads to get its suspension to complain. It handles as you would expect – with decent body control, a touch of understeer and a somewhat vague steering wheel feel (the diesel variant offers better feedback). In the city, this will be a very easy car to live with, and it’ll acquit itself well out on the highway too. With variants priced between Rs 5.45 to Rs 9.41 lakh (ex-Delhi), the Dzire is pretty much the perfect family car; a fully-loaded variant is the way to go, as always. It still won’t win a beauty contest, mind you, but it’ll definitely make it into the final round of the compact sedan category.

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