Good family fit

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. 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 to slouch.

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.

Other changes include a fold-down armrest with cup holders in the rear seat back, a central courtesy light and air-vent repeaters in the central console. As for appearances, Swift and DZire have dissimilar front “faces” but the central vents on top of their dashboards are different.

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, storage pockets behind the left front chair and classier upholstery.

Height adjustment for the driver’s seat it’s fixed. The same tall tester had a full fist-width of space between head and hood lining, so was perfectly comfortable. 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. Suzuki says the shifting action was improved recently by optimising spring rates in the selector mechanisms to help gears “pop” into place more easily. 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 an 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.