Recent road test of Zest earned it handsome accolades from entire expert team at ECARDLR. Impressed by overall quality and fluidity of Zest this week we stacked it against its competitors to find its real world standing. Maruti Dzire, Honda Amaze and of late debuted Hyundai Xcent are the propositions that are slugging it out in market and though Maruti Dzire is still ruling the roost, Honda and Hyundai too are garnering decent numbers. At cross roads with these stalwarts, Tata Zest has to display an extraordinary courageous act of Valor to overwhelm the opposition. Keeping this in mind Tata has accoutered Zest with armor of Revotron and automatic diesel; both being boastingly campaigned as first in class features. In face initial bookings reports suggest that these aspects have been successful in getting the customers hooked to new Zest though long time sustenance of this initial momentum will solely depend upon Zest’s overall performance vis-à-vis its rivals. So how new Zest fairs against its direct rivals in an attempt to dig its footsteps in category kick started by its ancestor Indigo CS; we find out in this road test comparison review.
Being the newest kid on the block, Zest inherits the advantage of freshness and with little familiarity to its any Tata; Zest leverages its design advantage to the hilt. Inoffensive lines, subtle bulges, strong character lines and sensuous lamps make Zest a modern, contemporary and quite an attractive offering on the road. Further the provisions of daytime running lights (DRLs’), LED lighting elements and projector beam aids to the practical appeal in addition to augmenting the premium quotient of the vehicle. Integration of the boot has been pulled off neatly though long hood and stubby tail makes it a bit disproportionate in profile.
This disproportionate contention is dealt with cunning by Honda engineers as Amaze looks impeccably balanced and proportionate. Except the wuss frontage that looks similar to Brio, Amaze does quite well in terms of overall style and design. Clever use of sleek lines and character bulges make Amaze one of the most balanced designed in this sub-4 m segment.
Like Amaze, Hyundai Xcent too carries forward the familiarity of its younger Grand i10 and though it looks sober and benign, it lacks the athletic spirit that some of its rivals have. Further the unanimated and completely bland rear make Xcent quite a boring design though the fitting lines and finishing of Xcent is of world class.
Maruti Dzire despite of being oldest in lot still does a fair job with its handsome frontage and back. But the profile and rear three quarter view exposes the hollowness of its boot integration and just like Zest, it feels quite disproportionate in profile. Rear thick chrome bar at the back is the tradition initiated by Dzire and has now been trickled down to other segment players. With hordes of Dzire on roads now it’s time we get an upgrade.
On dimensional terms, all the cars are quite similar in length with Amaze being shorter by 5 mm in comparison to 3995 mm measure of Zest, Dzire and Xcent. Come to width, height and wheelbase, Zest dwarfs its rivals by quite a margin; especially on important aspect of wheelbase. Dzire has the highest ground clearance of 170 mm while all other three comes with 165 mm off the ground bellies. Hyundai Xcent has the largest boot capacity followed by Honda and Tata while Maruti finishes last in the race.
Zest: 4/5 Amaze: 4/5 Xcent: 3.5/5 Dzire: 3.5/5
Quality And Space
With widest, tallest and longest wheelbase Tata Zest cabin is an epitome of comfort and space. Plenty of room is at user disposal at both front and back with superbly bolstered benches aiding the occupants’ convenience in short as well as long journeys. But then space was never been a problem with Tata cars and all the past Tata vehicles had done incredibly well on room front. Now where Tata Zest impresses the most is the new cabin with high quality interiors and long list of equipment. A completely revamped interiors featuring two-tone dash, intuitive centre console and lavishly equipped touch screen Harman audio system and very readable instrument cluster makes Tata Zest a highly equipped vehicle. So much so that its rivals now really need to go back to drawing board to hold a candle with this new Tata.
In comparison Amaze’s cabin feel quite downmarket and its disjointed arrangement of the centre console along with low rend bits make Amaze a distasteful in nature. In fact even on fit-finish, Tata Zest scores higher than Amaze; something we never imagines we say for Honda. However with the clever use of stitching process, Amaze frees up more space than what its wheelbase discloses. Roominess feel is on par with Zest and boot is even bigger than Tata.
When it comes to biggest boot, Hyundai Xcent emerges as winner with its capacious 407 litres of boot space. Even on fit and finishing, cabin is hard to fault as Korean manufacturer has endowed Xcent with class leading stitching performance. The whole cabin ambience, textures, appliques and grains are of top notch quality though Xcent falls short on critical aspect of space. Zest and Amaze scores better on the room front and Xcent gets a beating on in-cabin space.
Maruti Dzire interiors still feels fresh and high quality. The shower theme centre console flows down with fluidity and coherence; something that Honda Amaze completely lacks. However the biggest demerit of Dzire cabin that brazenly comes to fore is the lack of rear seat space. It’s not that wheelbase of Dzire is short; in fact it is second only to Zest though the lack of focussed approach has resulted in cramped rear. Further high window line and limited glass area make things further bad for Maruti.
Zest: 3.5/5 Amaze: 3.5/5 Xcent: 3.5/5 Dzire: 3/5
Under The Hood
Powered by Fiat’s 1.3-litre multi-jet diesel that also powers the Maruti Dzire under different name, Zest comes with 90 PS and 200 Nm of power and torque respectively. In comparison Maruti puts out 75 PS/190 Nm, Amaze 100 PS/200 Nm and Hyundai 72 PS/180 Nm. Honda displaces largest capacity of 1.5-litre while Xcent fights with smaller 1.1-litre CRDI motor. Both Tata and Maruti features similar capacity motor though the use of different turbochargers varies the output performance offered by these cars.
Off the line response of Zest is sedate rather than brisk. Drivability of Zest motor is phenomenal and the use of variable geometry has indeed helped the Tata to mask any turbo lag that was apparent in older iteration of this engine. Mid-range too is healthy and noise insulation under hood helps to contain the sound filtering inside the Zest cabin. Gearshifts feel smooth and accurate though overall refinement the shifts is still some way to go before it matches the benchmark.
Honda Amaze with its biggest heart makes most power with 100 PS on disposal though it is low rev-torque of the Honda that comes handy in day to day driving conditions. With literally no turbo lag Amaze feels effortless in city driving but as engine starts revving higher, sound emanating from bay becomes quite obtrusive. Honda starts sounding hoarse and occupants are sure to get aware about the high sound quotient of this diesel mill.
What however impreses us is the silent and non-thrashy nature of Hyundai’s oil burber that revvs smoothly despite being having 3-cylinder engine geometry. It fares well in city puttering around though on highway the deficincy of this motor against the 4-cylinder power is quite evident. Xcent lacks the full throttle punch of rivlas and it is best when performing under mid-range whihout pressing it to approach higher revs.
Maruti Dzire though suffers from a turbo lag still emerges as one of the best highway cruisers. The rush of torque that banged on gates of excitement after 2000 mark is really gratifying in Maruti. Though the intensity of the torque delivery is not as wild as it used to be on older Dzire still it’s a very satiating experience to drive Dzire out on highways and open stretches. Further the 5-speed gearbox feels quite competent and up to task.
Zest: 3.5/5 Amaze: 3.5/5 Xcent: 3/5 Dzire: 3/5
Ride And Handling
With Zest Tata has taken its riding prowess to a new level with Zest being coming across as a best riding car with fair handling capability. Zest suspension system is best in the class and it remains unfazed irrespective of nature of the road. Cushioning prowess of Zest is good enough to take you to places without any inconvenience and even handling won’t take out the fun of driving. New electronic power steering feels light and surprisingly provides a good amount of feedback too.
Amaze too feels comfortable car and though its ride is not as soaking as Zest, still it makes its mark. Soft suspension has long travel and works quite effortlessly for most of the part. He biggest let down however on Amaze is its inability to curtail the noise filtering inside the cabin without any obstruction. Light steering makes work easy though lacks in feedback especially on straight head position.
Hyundai Xcent follows similar soft ride strategy as it suspension prioritizes ride comfort over handling. Unlike excessive soft suspension setting that previous Hyundai featured Xcent has got more mature suspension settings. Still there is lot of clumsiness and suspension behaves erroneously at occasions. Power steering is lightest in lot though it is annoyingly lifeless without any feedback.
Maruti Dzire strikes a good note on ride and handling front with its competent suspension set up. Dzire appeal lies in its agility that masks its actual length of around 4 meter. Handling is fun and though it falls short of entertaining ability of Swift it still handles better than any other compact sedan featuring in this test.
Zest: 4/5 Amaze: 3.5/5 Xcent: 3/5 Dzire: 3.5/5
Maruti Dzire with its rock solid reliability and widest network is the safest to bet on though it’s been there for quite a time and its upgrade is also on the cards. Despite being oldest, Dzire still take away large chunk of total sales though it could now be change from here now. Honda Amaze impressed with its overall spacious cabin and drivability though the mundane cabin and unrefined high sounding oil-burner can put you off. Claims of highest mileage in the segment however assuage the low rent feeling of Amaze to some extent. Hyundai Xcent is another excellent proposition from Hyundai and customers’ looking for a good all-rounder city driving car with good space and excellent boot will definitely drift towards the Xcent. Further the top notch fit and finish of the cabin makes this Hyundai a preferred choice for nit-picking lovers. Tata Zest that comes with almost lowest price in both petrol and diesel variant has many things going for it. Spacious cabin, roomy interiors, refined and drivable engine options and best in class riding ability make Tata Zest a commendable option. Further the top of the line variant of Zest is fully loaded and comes with many first-in-class features. Now if Tata is able to convince customers about the longevity and reliability of Zest then there won’t be any looking back for this new Tata. Finally Zest is a Tata car that you should really look forward to buy.
Zest: 4/5 Amaze: 3.5/5 Xcent: 3.5/5 Dzire: 3.5/5