Good family fit

PHOTOS: QUICKPIC
PHOTOS: QUICKPIC

GORDAN HALL

WE subconsciously think of Suzuki’s DZire as a booted Swift, although the company recently decided to market the ranges separately. The sedan will be more family focused.

Similarities include the Heartect build platform, 1197 cc engine, five-speed manual and automated manual (AMT) gearboxes and basic spec levels. But there are differences that make DZire somewhat more than just a Swift with caboose.

It is 155 mm longer, for example, but still measures just short of four metres so it can catch an Indian government tax break based on size. And although the new DZire’s overall length is what it was in the previous version, its wheelbase grew by 20 millimetres to 2 450. That, and design tweaks, increased most internal measurements noticeably, with knee room the biggest winner. The only factor still causing discomfort for tall back-seat riders is headroom — our 6’1” tester had either to slouch or bend his neck uncomfortably.

Luggage space grew too, from 300 litres to 378, although part of that is because the spare wheel shrank, from full size in the previous edition, to spacesaver. On the other hand, new since then is that the boot now opens with a squeeze pad rather than by key. The lid is still untrimmed, unfortunately, so you might want to be careful when using the pull-down slots provided.

Other changes include a fold-down armrest with cup holders in the rear seat back, a central courtesy light so you can see more clearly when securing the heirs into their seats and air-vent repeaters in the central console. As for appearances, Swift and DZire have dissimilar front “faces” and the central vents on top of their dashboards are different.

Something users probably won’t notice is that, while all other gearing factors are the same, DZire’s fourth and fifth ratios are slightly longer than those in Swift. DZire spins along at about 3 000 rpm for 120 km/h in top gear vs around 3 100 rpm for the hatchback. This translates, according to the spec sheets, into a quicker 0-100 km/h time of 11,7 seconds rather than 12,0, and five kilometres per hour more at the top end — 175 km/h vs 170.

There are three offerings. Entry-level GA provides the basics: steel wheels with centre caps, halogen headlights, two air bags, ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, two ISOFix mountings with top tethers, fabric covered seats with integrated head restraints, air conditioning, manual mirrors and windows, remote central locking, child-proof locks, on-board computer and “radio preparation”. That means no music centre but speakers and an aerial are built in.

Choose the GL specification for full caps on the wheels, electric windows front and rear, a rev. counter, powered mirrors with indicator repeaters, fog lamps in front, an entertainment system with Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary, satellite controls on the tilt-adjustable steering wheel, separated head restraints, a storage pocket behind the left front chair and classier upholstery. The GL with AMT adds an outside temperature indicator and a proper rest for the left foot, although there is easily space for it in the manual versions too.

We said nothing about height adjustment for the driver’s seat because it’s fixed. The same tall tester had a full fist-width of space between head and hood lining, so he was perfectly comfortable, although you might want to try it for yourself. The minimalist theme continues with no cameras, ESP or parking alarms.

The 1200 cc, K12M engine has a deliciously wide torque band that kicks in and keeps pulling from just above idle to its peak at 4 200 rpm. The payoff lies in lower revs and good economy.

You don’t need to stretch for the gear lever. It’s about midway between knee and hip, even when snicking smoothly into first, third or fifth. Suzuki says the shifting action was improved recently by optimising spring rates in the selector mechanisms to help gears “pop” into place more easily. Let’s just say it’s as smooth as your toast knife swishing through soft margarine. Steering is great too, turning the car easily in 9,6 metres, while the suspension is moderately firm but soaks up bumps well.

DZire is a plain and simple, no-nonsense, family sedan that gives users what they really need without unnecessary gadgetry. It handles well, pulls strongly, can be driven raucously when you want to and manages it all with rather impressive real-life fuel economy.

THE NUMBERS

Price: R177 900 Engine: 1197 cc, DOHC 16-valve, four-cylinder with VVT Power: 61 kW at 6 000 rpm Torque: 113 Nm at 4 200 rpm Zero to 100 km/h: 11,7 seconds Maximum speed: 175 km/h Real-life fuel consumption: About 5,3 l/100 km Tank: 37 litres Luggage: 378 litres Warranty: five years/200 000 km with three years’ roadside assistance Service plan: two years/30 000 km.
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