Once upon a time, the minimum you needed for an automatic sedan was Rs 10 lakh. On something like the Maruti SX4 or the Hyundai Verna for instance. Now, the DZire 4-speed automatic promises to change that forever.
Maruti recently launched the upgraded DZire, with powertrains borrowed from its hatchback cousin, the Swift, except on one variant, the 4-speed AT. The DZire AT is only available with a petrol engine good for 86bhp and 114Nm. The manual is peppy and fun to drive, which might not entirely be true about the AT.
Sure, the convenience of a slushbox can’t be matched. Especially in the city, which involves hours of first- and second-gear driving. The auto ’box sorts that out nicely. Like the SX4 AT, the DZire also comes with L, 2 and D modes. You slot into L and it sticks to first gear. In 2 though, unlike the name suggests, it doesn’t stay in second but keeps upshifting. On a crowded highway, the AT is not exactly what you want.
It takes a while to shift, both up and down. Overtaking a trailer can get tight if you don’t plan in advance. There’s an overdrive lock switch that stops it from shifting into top gear, holding it in third even if you shove your foot into the floor with the tacho spinning to 6000 rpm(to maximise pulling power when you need it most, say, when you need to zap that trailer). Maruti’s automatic is relatively old-school compared to the fancy tech on offer by others.
In the city, it returned 8.5kpl – by no means frugal for a car this size especially if you’re used to manual transmissions. Out on the highway, expect about 13kpl. A tankful should be good for just over 500km driving cross-country. And 0-100 comes up in 14.85sec, which is a tad slow.
In the features department, Maruti seems to be a bit confused. It would’ve been nice to see climate control, seat height adjust and steering-mounted audio controls. Still, you do get an integrated CD player with AUX and USB. The AT is specced the same as the VXi/VDi trim except that ABS is standard.
The DZire is not one of the most fun-to-drive autos out there but it does make driving in the city a whole lot easier. And at Rs 7.51 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) it’s the only entry-level sedan with an auto ’box. Now to see if the Etios and Verito jump on the bandwagon.