Test Drive: SUZUKI DZIRE GL+

The all-new Suzuki Dzire landed on Philippine shores in mid-2018, and I recently came home to find a test unit sitting in my garage. The GL+ variant, with its Auto Gear Shift, is an interesting car with a number of benefits that merit consideration.

Design: 3.5/5

Unlike its predecessor which some observers described as a hatch with a trunk, the all-new Dzire has been designed as an authentic sedan with sleek and flowing lines for a compact, yet elegant look. Its wider dimensions deliver a bold stance, perfectly incorporating a wide hexagonal front grille and aggressive bumper. Chrome touches on the front grille and bumper with integrated fog lamps, side window moldings, as well as rear bumper add an upscale finish to the entire package.

The two-tone interior, while not plush, is pleasing enough, with comfortable seat cushions and bolsters finished in a high-grade patterned fabric. The rear seats feature head restraints and a fold down center armrest. Pockets and other storage compartments abound, enough to stow everyone’s must-bring items.

To take advantage of a tax break in the Indian domestic market, the Dzire had to be less than 4,000 mm in length, which meant trunk space had to be compromised. It does have enough space to accommodate a large suitcase.

Hardware: 4.5/5

The Dzire GL+ is powered by a compact 1.2-liter engine capable of producing up to 82 HP @ 6,000 rpm of power, and up to 113 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed Auto Gear Shift (AGS) that is essentially an automated or self-shifting manual transmission. Essentially, what this means is that the clutch and gear-shifting is controlled by an intelligent actuating system based on vehicle speed. The shift stick only has Reverse, Neutral, and Drive plus a Manual override mode.

The Dzire rides on 185/65 R15 tires fitted on to alloy wheels. Suspensions are MacPherson struts with coil spring in front and torsion beams with coil springs in the rear, while brakes are ventilated discs in front and drum brakes in the rear.

The infotainment system is a 7-inch multimedia display with Bluetooth, USB, aux-in, and navigation for the GL+.

User Experience: 3.5/5

My first drive with the Dzire GL+ was a weird experience: the car decelerated and nosedived every time it shifted to a higher gear, and this was particularly pronounced when upshifting from D1 to D2, and from D2 to D3. In the higher gears, the “shift shock” wasn’t so obvious. With a little bit of research, I learned that I shouldn’t expect an automatic transmission experience with the AGS. Instead, I should think of it as a clutchless manual transmission. When I started driving, automatic transmissions were not the norm, so I had driven manual for many years. With this in mind, I drove the Dzire GL+ like a manual, briefly taking my foot off the accelerator for the short interval it would have taken me to physically shift gears. With this small adjustment in vehicle expectations and driving style, the Dzire GL+ became a much smoother drive.

For city driving, the Dzire GL+ is a capable commuter, although there is quite a bit of road noise from the tires and some body roll when negotiating bends.

Despite its compact dimensions, the Dzire GL+ surprisingly has roomy legroom particularly for rear passengers, whose comfort is also assured by aircon vents on the rear console.

Value: 4.5/5

As a 1.2-liter sub-compact sedan, the price point for the all-new Suzuki Dzire—PHP 638,000 for the base GL MT and PHP 698,000 for the GL+ AGS—is quite competitive. Moreover, Suzuki cars have a well-deserved reputation for being extremely fuel-efficient, so operating costs are expected to be low. Its lineage as a Maruti developed for the Indian market—where it has sold more than a million units—attests to its durability and capability to handle all types of road conditions. Finally, the AGS delivers the ease and convenience of clutchless driving particularly in Metro Manila traffic, but with the low maintenance cost of a manual transmission.

Personally, I think the Suzuki Dzire GL+ would be an excellent proposition as a budget family car or a TNVS unit as it ticks off a lot of boxes: good price for a sedan, low fuel costs, convenient automated manual transmission.

What’s Hot:
– Auto Gear Shift (once you’ve mastered it)
– Good price point

What’s Not:
– There is a learning curve for the AGS
– Trunk space is quite compact

Bottomline:

Worth consideration as a multi-purpose sedan for personal and commercial use.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2018-January 2019 Issue.

Reviewed and photos by Maribelle Alba

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