Sub 4 Meter Sedan's' or should we call them 'Step Through Sedan's' have been Indian car buyers favourite for some years now. What started as a strategy to offer a sedan at a competitive price, has today, become a mainstay segment for most car manufacturers.
Creation of this sub 4 meter sedan can be assigned to Tata Motors Indigo, the first sub 4 Meter car to be launched in India. However, sub 4 meter segment 's geometric vertical growth can definitely be placed on the able shoulders of Maruti Suzuki Dzire.
During Jan -Dec 2013 Maruti Suzuki sold 1,98,317 Dzire, Tata Motors Sold 29,643 Indigo eCS and Amaze revived Honda's falling sales graph with stupendous figure of 55,003 in 9 month from April 2013 to Dec 2013.
Hyundai having discontinued their long serving Accent and with sub 4 meters exciting sales numbers it was only a matter of time Hyundai too plugged the sub 4 meter gap in their product portfolio. Post the launch of Grand i10 it was obvious that sooner or later Hyundai would use Grand i10's platform to mark their entry into this lucrative and geometrically growing sub 4 meter segment of the Indian car. Hyundai launched Xcent on 13th March 2014 with all fanfare typically associated with their launches. The car seems to have caught Indian car buyers fancy and favoured Hyundai by booking 11000 Xcents.
With Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Hyundai having a sub 4 meter car in their portfolio, we at ecardlr.com decided to a head to head comparison of these 3 able cars to give you our readers are perspective on these car.
Sub 4 meter cars built on hatchback platform are designers nightmare, after all one has to carve a boot out of a hatchback and also retain decent cabin space in a predefined length of the car. A challenge that could go so wrong as was the case with Dzire, whose boot even today looks small and an afterthought, yet Indian car buyers have been showering their love on it. Car's profile never gives one a feeling of a well designed sedan and makes it look rather ugly when compared to the contemporary looking Swift on whose platform it was built. It's probably the Swift's Long nose and comparatively short cabin that made it very difficult for Maruti's designer to carve out a decent boot space for Dzire. Dzire's boot is an apology both visually and in terms of its small 316 litres capacity. Dzire offers the lowest boot space when compared to 400 litres of Honda Amaze and 407 litres of Xcent boot space.
Amaze on the other hand looks more balanced, thought through and pleasant. From a distant one could be excused for even calling it a City. Honda's 'Cab Forward' design philosophy with shorter nose and rear overhang makes it look like a full grown sedan. Add to this wider looking boot, slightly raised back and large wrap around City look-alike tail lamps makes Amaze look like a complete full grown sedan. No wonder Amaze managed to garner an average of 6111 cars/month in last 9 months of 2013 calander year. It was no doubt helped to a great extent by Honda's first 1.5 idtec diesel power plant, which contributes to 55% of Amaze sales.
Xcent built on Grand i10 platform has same advantage like the Amaze. Longer wheelbase, smart short nose, bigger cabin and rear overhang. Chrome detailing on slot like grille, hexagonal grille with bumper integrated fogs makes it look quite a pleasant car. However, when viewed side-by-side along with Amaze and Dzire, Xcent looks puniest among all 3 sub 4 meter car. It's flat boot along with apologetic tail lamps does not communicate class like the Amaze.
Externally it's the Amaze that will be our choice followed by Dzire and then Xcent making up the rear.
Honda engineers seems to have got it right in terms of cabin space, a feat managed by additional 63 mm wheelbase over the Brio. Interiors of Amaze looks most spacious, however, when compared to Brio, It's seat looks quite thin and narrow which adds to inside feeling of spaciousness and legroom all around. Add to this the space scoped out from the doors which increases the available width internally thus offering good shoulder room for its rear seat passenger. Seats however are comfortable and one sits high. Amaze's dash is its biggest let down, cost cutting seems so obvious. Honda has always been know for the best tactile feel inside the car, however, Amaze's dash is far away from that feeling. Audio system and AC controls seems like an afterthought. How one wishes Honda hasn't resorted to such obvious cost.
Dzire amongst the 3 cars being compared is the most cramped car for rear seat passengers. Seats though unlike Amaze are more bolstered and plush making them the most comfortable seats amongst the compared trio. Dzire's driver seat seems to have got the most attention from its designers. Comfortable well bolstered bucket seat with decent thigh support makes it ideal for fatigue free long drive. Whilst the dash quality and grains are upmarket, however the tone-tone beige black combination does not look so upmarket. Lower buttons in Beige coudl well have been avoided as they would definitely be prone to getting dirty with use.
Maruti Swift Dzire
Xcent scores over Dzire and Amaze when it comes to interior tactile feel, quality and two-tone (Black and Beige) combination. Material quality, fit-finish and dash grain makes it a very modern looking dashboard. Leather wrapped steering wheel in top-end variant adds to Xcent's interior's classiness and it feels great to hold. Whilst legroom and headroom are adequate, however the rear seat width wise is best suited for 2. Hyundai tweaked Grand i10's comfy seats for the Xcent but did not compromise on seating comfort and bolstering. Xcent's interiors are worthy of a full blown sedan and is the best amongst this comparative set.
Our choice basis interior comparison sure is in favour of th Xcent followed by Dzire and then Amaze
Feature to Feature Comparison
Hyundai offers value through features, they have always been at the forefront when it comes to pampering car owners with benchmark features and at prices which makes it difficult for other car manufacturers to duplicate. Key features of XCent top-end variant SX (Optional) variant are; automatic climate control, rear AC vent, audio and visual (camera) parking assist with display on auto dimming internal rear view mirror (IRVM), keyless entry and go, 15" alloy wheels, Daul front airbags and ABS, electric folding ORVM's, bluetooth, USB, aux-in, CD drive and 1 GB hard drive for music and cooled box. To top it at Rs.6.29 lacs (exshowroom) Delhi, for SX (o) petrol variant its cheaper by 3000 rupees over Dzize ZXi and by 35000 over Amaze VX MT.
It seems Honda believes in charging premium for its marquee, else how does one explain the absence of auto climate control, bluetooth, CD player and yet charge a price premium.
Swift ZXI at least offers autoclimate control but does not offer bluetooth aux-in, and USB, but at least its not ridiculously over priced like the Amaze over Xcent
It's precisely this great feature vs value pricing strategy of Hyundai which wins its Indian car buyers faith, trust and sales from them. Keep it up Hyundai.
A lot has been written about petrol engines of all three cars, as they are operational in some model or the other within the car manufacturer's product range. However, when it comes to diesel power plant both Xcent with its 1.1 litre CRDI engine and Amaze with its first time 1.5 iDtec engine are new in all sense of the word new. So we took the cars with diesel engines for a ride.
Xcent has the smallest diesel power plant with a displacement capacity of 1.1 litre a carry over from Grand i10 engine obviously tweaked to offer increased power and rotational force (Torque). Best thing about this 3 cylinder power plant is linearity of power delivery, smooth takeoff and near zero turbo lag, making it a great city car, however, it loses grunt much before its red-line at 3800 rpm, making tricky overtaking manoeuvres a no-go. Xcent's light clutch makes one forget about long throw gear lever. ARAI mileage at 24.4 KMPL makes it a thrifty car.
The 1,5 Litre iDTEC diesel is perky, turbo lag free, has good low and top-end grunt and near flat torque curve make sit such a pleasure to drive . However, how one wishes that Honda should have added more sound dampeners and insulation material to block the irritating engine noise from its aluminium blocked diesel engine. Gear throw are short and precise but the clutch feels heavy, therefore could be tiring whenever, frequent down and up shifts are required.
Dzire still rund on Fiat sourced, Maruti modified 1.3 multijet diesel plant. Its probably the most refined engine, however, its key negative is its habit to take-off almost vertically once the tacho needles touches the near 2000 rpm mark. Whilst over time, one gets used to it, however, it's scary the first time one uses it. Dzire engine unfortunately depicts the most turbo lag amongst all three engines being compared.
On engine front, we believe it could be a toss between Amaze and Xcent, however on noise front Amaze might lose top spot to Xcent which on other had could lose to Amaze on top-end grunt.
Ride and Handling
Honda cars loves corners, so does Amaze. Honda cars thanks to their low slung (lowest Height at 1505 mm Vs 1520 mm Xcent and 1555 m Dzire) cab forward design are fun to drive, they are quite confidence inspiring as it depicts near zero roll characteristics. However, Amaze's 14" wheel, stiffer suspension means sharp bumps and bigger undulations are all transferred to the passengers in the cabin (unfortunately equally true for the City). Amaze steering is light but offers good an accurate road feedback. NVH value in Amaze are really bad, probably thanks to poor insulation.
Dzire thanks to being a SWift's offspring offers most mature dynamics, great ride and efficient handling. It's 15" rims soak up the road bumps to which you add high level of insulation and what you have is a great ride. However, being the tallest amongst the lot, it does depict certain roll characteristics.
Xcent seems to be the surprise package from Hyundai in car Dynamics, whilst uninspiring steering feel and feedback still persists, however, stiffer suspension imparts stability to this new Hyundai car. Xcents compact dimensions and small turning radius makes it a very competent city car.
The Xcent for its great features, Hyundai assurance and value pricing
The Amaze for its looks and Honda Marquee
Dzire for Maruti Badge, good engine and a popular car
However if we have to decide, we will put our money on the Xcent because of feature to price equation mostly rest all will be a bonus.