Comparison test: Honda Amaze vs Maruti Suzuki DZire vs Hyundai Xcent
SUVs may have become the most popular form of the automobile in India, but Indian buyers' love for compact sedans continues unabated. In fact it's exactly a decade now since Maruti Suzuki gave birth to the segment with the Swift Dzire. It wasn't the best looking sedan, but sold in heaps and made other manufacturers sit up and take notice. Needless to say, the following years had several car makers also dip their toes in and interestingly, almost all compact sedans launched in the country have done well.
The compact sedan segment is easily the biggest volumes segment of the Indian car industry, and the Maruti Suzuki DZire, Hyundai and Honda are three of the biggest names in it
Of course, the segment has evolved most cars today are in their second or third generation so designs are a lot more appealing while equipment lists have only gotten longer. The new generation Maruti Suzuki DZire has in fact set benchmarks since its launch last year. The Hyundai Xcent has also come of age, while the second generation Honda Amaze has just been launched and comes with a more impressive design and higher equipment levels. How does it stack up against the Maruti DZire and Hyundai Xcent both being two of the most popular names in the segment? Read on to find out.
The new generation Maruti Suzuki DZire the best looking compact sedan in the country currently. The new Honda Amaze looks a lot better than its predecessor too, thanks to a more cohesive design language and a radically different looking mug, though the styling has received mixed reactions. The Hyundai Xcent isn't as appealing as its Japanese rivals in the styling department though
Styling and build quality
With customers getting increasingly style conscious, manufacturers are going the extra mile when designing compact sedans. All three cars here sport a very cohesive design and the boot hasn't merely been slapped on. In fact, I'd like to give Maruti Suzuki a thumbs up as compared to what the original Swift Dzire was, the new generation DZire looks gorgeous. The curvy lines look very appealing from almost any angle, while the overall stance is low and sporty. I'm not fond of the way the grille has been styled, but the design of the headlights and LED daytime running lamps deserves a mention here and so do the alloy wheels.
The Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent and Maruti Suzuki DZire all three boast excellent build quality and premium paint finishes, and are in fact pretty much on par with each other in the build quality department with barely any room to complain
The new Amaze looks a whole lot better than its predecessor as well. While it has received mixed reactions, I personally like the face including the headlamps, though the LED daytime running lamps are barely visible. The design is boxy which has a retro vibe to it, and is also something I appreciated. The integration of the boot is a lot better, which makes for a far more appealing looking derriere. That said, the Amaze does not get LED tail lights unlike the DZire. The Xcent is the oldest car here and while it did receive a facelift just over a year ago the car looks dated in the company of the DZire and Amaze. The Xcent's design is not as appealing as the other two either the shape of the grille and positioning of the LED daytime running lamps don't make for a very good looking mug, and the rear isn't particularly attractive either.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire also has the best looking interiors as the beige-black combination looks neat and classy. The touchscreen is excellent in terms of its looks, touch and feel, though its gloss-black surrounds are a fingerprint and dust magnet. Also, the steering wheel could have done without the fake wood inserts
The DZire and Amaze both offer a premium feel inside with their beige-black interiors, as also layout of their dashboards and centre consoles. The Xcent uses a black-grey colour scheme which doesn't look as appealing, and its seats do not look as premium either. Its dash layout also looks dated. Quality of plastics in the DZire and Xcent is good, though plastics in the Amaze could have been of a slightly better quality. The Amaze is the most spacious from behind the wheel followed by the DZire both cockpits are spacious, while the Xcent feels slightly cramped in comparison as the steering is a little too close to the driver, and its darker interiors don't help either. I like the DZire's flat-bottomed steering wheel the most as it feels sporty, though it certainly could have done without the faux wood insert.
Interiors of the new Honda Amaze look a lot more appealing than the last generation car. Overall design is simple yet elegant and adds a sense of premiumness to the insides
The Hyundai Xcent is the oldest car here and its interiors echo the feeling, looking the oldest of the lot with its colour combination of black and light grey. The design is not as modern or upmarket as the other two either
Move to the rear and you realise the DZire is the most spacious and also offers the best backseat experience. All three get rear arm rests, but the DZire's combination of rear space (leg/knee/headroom), its rear arm rest and rear air-conditioning vents together contribute to that experience. The Amaze is the second most spacious at the rear, though Honda has restricted travel of the front seats in terms of the fore and aft movement on the rail to accentuate the sense of spaciousness at the rear. This means that even if there is no one at the back, the front passenger still cannot maximize leg space as his seat will not go all the way back. The Amaze does not get rear air-conditioning vents either, which is glaring. The Xcent gets rear vents but isn't as spacious and its darker hued interiors only add to the drab feel inside.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire offers the best back seat experience of the three cars here with its impressive combination of leg/knee room, head room, the seat back's recline angle, central arm rest and air-conditioning vents
The new Honda Amaze is almost as spacious as the Maruti Suzuki DZire at the rear, but misses out on rear air-conditioning vents, though it does get a central arm rest
All three cars are closely matched in this department. Touchscreen infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are common to the top variants of all three. The DZire's screen has the best touch sensitivity and resolution, but its gloss black surrounds are a fingerprint magnet. Honda isn't offering the option of an automatic transmission with the top of the line VX variant of the Amaze, which means if you go in for its CVT versions you do not get the touchscreen or Apple/Android connectivity, unlike the AMT versions of the DZire. All three cars also get automatic climate control, keyless entry, start/stop buttons, reverse cameras with parking sensors and auto-down for the driver's window. Additionally, the Amaze and DZire also get an automatic up function for the driver's window. The DZire though is the only car to get LED projector beams and an auto-on function for its headlights.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire is the only car here to get LED projector headlights and an auto on/off function for the headlamps
The Honda Amaze gets two USB ports - one for fast charging and iPod/smartphone connectivity, while the second one is purely for charging devices
Engines and performance
The Amaze has the biggest motor here as it is powered by a 1.5-litre, 100PS and 200Nm, four-cylinder engine. The DZire uses a smaller, 1.3-litre, 75PS and 190Nm, four-cylinder engine. The Xcent has the smallest engine, a 1.2-litre three-cylinder motor, though with 75PS and 190Nm on offer it is on par with the DZire. The DZire's engine is the sprightliest, followed by the Xcent in terms of responses. The Amaze might have a 25 percent advantage in terms of its power output but responses from its engine are more laidback. That said, the Amaze is the quickest car when it comes to the 0-100kmph dash (12.6s), followed by the DZire (13.36s), while the Xcent is significantly slower (15.4s).
The Hyundai Xcent may not be the quickest when it comes to the 0-100kmph dash, but is quicker than the Maruti Suzuki DZire and Honda Amaze when it comes to in-gear acceleration, which gives it an edge when driving in city traffic
The Xcent comes back strongly in terms of in-gear acceleration though and is the quickest consistently. The DZire's turbocharger makes you wait the longest before it spools and it also offers peak torque only at 2,000rpm unlike the Amaze and Xcent that offer peak torque at 1,750rpm. But despite that the DZire betters the Amaze when it comes to in-gear acceleration, as once you cross the 2,000rpm mark its engine feels very responsive. All three engines are high on refinement, but the DZire's engine is the smoothest sounding, followed by the Xcent.
The Honda Amaze has the biggest and most powerful engine, which makes it the quickest accelerating car of the three, but interestingly, the Amaze is also the most fuel efficient car of the lot
The oil burner in the Amaze sounds clattery in comparison though the motor is smooth, in typical Honda fashion. Honda's five-speed gearbox also feels slightly rubbery to use as compared to the other two. Interestingly, despite being having the biggest and quickest engine, the Amaze is also the most fuel efficient of the three as it returned 21.18kmpl overall as compared to the DZire and Xcent's overall efficiency numbers of 19.71kmpl and 19.16kmpl respectively! Clearly, the Honda powertrain is tuned for efficiency rather than pleasing the enthusiast, unlike the DZire.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire's powertrain is the most engaging from behind the wheel with its responsiveness and peppy feel
Ride and handling
The Amaze has the softest suspension setup which translates to a plush ride quality. The Honda soaks up everything with aplomb, though the softness also causes lots of movement on undulated surfaces. The Amaze also wallows slightly at high speeds thanks to its softly sprung suspension which isn't likeable on the highway. The DZire and Xcent's suspension is slightly firmer in comparison and both are adept at soaking bumps and potholes, but with a little bit of a thud, especially over bigger potholes. Between the two the DZire feels slightly better on bad roads though, as lateral movement in the Maruti is lesser.
The Hyundai Xcent offers a better balance between ride and handling as compared to the new Honda Amaze - suspension setup on the Amaze is softer, which makes for a very impressive ride quality, but that ride comes at the expense of confident handling
The firm suspension in the DZire and Xcent makes for better high speed stability as compared to the Amaze though. Both also better the Amaze around corners as they feel more planted, for the same reason, while the Amaze does not feel as confident due its body roll. Between the DZire and Xcent, the Maruti is the more engaging car to drive. It feels sportier while the Xcent feels slightly boring from behind the wheel. The DZire's more playful character is also courtesy its steering which feels well-weighted and offers ample feedback, while the Xcent's steering feels vague and lacks responsiveness.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire's ride and handling package is the best of the three - its bump absorption abilities are very good and the handling is the most engaging of the three as well
The steering in the Amaze is somewhere in between on the go, but feels heavy at slow speeds, which makes it slightly more cumbersome to maneuver in tight parking spots. The Amaze though has the sharpest brakes and is the quickest to stop while also offering the best feedback, followed by the Xcent. The DZire's brakes leave something to be desired in terms of feel and feedback.
There's no two ways about the fact that the new Amaze is a huge leap forward over its predecessor. It looks a lot better, is more spacious and also boasts generous equipment levels. It in fact betters the Xcent on several fronts, as you will notice in our score sheet. It is an excellent family car and going by sales numbers the new Amaze is doing well already. The Xcent on the other hand has been a chart buster for Hyundai as buyers have always appreciated its virtues as a comfortable, well-equipped family car, though it does feel slightly dated in the company of the new DZire and Amaze. The DZire meanwhile comes across as a better package than the Amaze and Xcent both, for several reasons. Its engine offers a sprightlier feel and impressive performance without sacrificing fuel efficiency.
The Maruti Suzuki DZire is the best package of the three overall - its design is the most appealing of three and so is the balacing act it manages, be it in terms of the engine performance with fuel efficiency or the ride with its handling. And its this packaging that makes the DZire the winner of this comparison test
The DZire is also the most engaging to drive not only thanks to its powertrain but also the handling, which does not come at the expense of a good ride quality. The DZire also one ups the Amaze and Xcent when it comes to equipment levels. That said the DZire is also the most expensive, but not by a huge margin. Of course, for the slightly higher price you certainly get a more likeable package, which reflects in the car's overall score. And it's the brilliant packaging that not only makes the DZire the best-selling compact sedan in the country, but also the winner of this comparison test.
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Team OD | 14 Sep 2018
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