SOME THINGS happen only in India. Take the compact sedan. Nowhere else in the world is a class of vehicles defined by an overall length of less than four metres. The initial years saw some bizarrely styled cars where manufacturers would simply slap on some extra sheet metal on the backside of a hatchback and voila, you would be offered a compact sedan at the showroom. Like all things however, this too has evolved and the two cars we have here, represent the sharp end of this segment. On the one hand, we have the newest generation of the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, successor to the king of the segment. On the other, we have the Tata Tigor, Tata Motors’ latest stab at this segment and successor to the Indigo CS, the car that birthed this genre. So how does Tata’s newest baby battle the king of the segment?
If looks could kill… Neither are sharp enough to be the assassin’s blade really. Having said that, they aren’t poor to look at either. The Dzire’s stance is wide and squat with a width of 1735mm and height of 1515mm while the Tigor is narrower and taller at 1677mm wide and 1537mm tall. Parked next to each other, both the Tata Tigor Styleback – that’s what Tata is calling this notchback design – and the Maruti Suzuki Dzire look a far cry from the cut/paste jobs of the past. In fact, the Tigor’s boot has been integrated even better with the pseudo-notchback design and no longer looks like an ugly stub on the backside of an otherwise well-balanced hatchback.
Inside job – Subtle touches like the air-convents matching the colour of the exterior and the neat dash layout of the Tigor feel very nice. The primary colour chosen is a dark grey that doesn’t really enhance the feel of airiness inside but will be far easier to maintain in the long run. The quality of materials too has improved over what we have seen in Tata Motors’ vehicle s in the past and I, for one, wouldn’t mind spending time in the Tigor’s cabin. The seats offer a good amount of all -round support but the cushioning is a tad too soft and I suspect on a long drive they might sag. Last but not the least, despite being the narrower of the two cars here, there is no real dearth of space inside the Tigor, in-cabin space maximisation being a Tata Motors hallmark.
It’s just that the Dzire feels instantly more premium. The quality of materials used in the Maruti is certainly a cut above what you would get in the Tata and the overall layout of the dash is even cleaner than the Tigor’s. The fact that Maruti engineers have used beige, which augments the perception of space, with faux wood and faux aluminium inserts to great effect only helps the Dzire’s case. As does the size of that large touchscreen system that dominates the centre console. The seats are wider than what you get in the Tigor and the cushioning firmer, but all-round support isn’t as great. On the issue of space, there’s definitely more to be had here than of Dzires past.
Under the bonnet – The four-cylinder 1248cc turbocharged 1.3 DDiS diesel engine of the Dzire is and feels familiar. It still makes the same 73bhp and 190Nm of peak torque that it always has. Only, it doesn’t feel as smooth and refined as it once did. Perhaps that’s got something to do with the fact that even though it’s a brilliant time-tested unit, the 1.3 DDiS has actually been around for fairly long and is getting constrained even more by fuel efficiency and emission compliance requirements. The five-speed transmission has short throws that slot in nicely. The Tigor gets the 1047cc turbocharged Revotorq diesel with 69bhp and 140Nm of tap. Despite its three-cylinder configuration the Tigor’s engine feels smoother running than the Maruti’s four-cylinder unit and is as efficient but doesn’t feel as punchy.
On the go – The Dzire shares its HEARTECT platform with the new Baleno. Thanks to the extra power and torque and an overall weight that is 85 kilos lighter, the Dzire feels quicker off the block. Getting up to speed is also quicker thanks to the slick and quick shifting ‘box. Out on the open highway, the Dzire can comfortably cruise at triple digit speeds all day without straining the engine. Back in an urban setting there is enough torque at low revs – peak torque kicks in at 2000 revs, to potter around all day and still get fabulous fuel economy. The only thing you’ve got to watch out for is the turbo lag till about 1700-1800rpm. Delivery from the Tigor’s engine on the other hand is more linear and feels less laggy. Part of it is because the boost, once the turbo spools up is less, than in the case of the Maruti. The Tata is also heavier by 140 kilos. Naturally, it is slower off the line and in gear acceleration feels slower too. That said, its 140Nm of torque becomes available at 1800rpm and stays with you till 3000 revs. For pottering through the city therefore the Revotorq engine acquits itself respectably while proving to be as economical as the Maruti engine.
Dynamically, even though the Tigor is a decent handler the Dzire bests it easily with its taut chassis and slightly stiffer suspension setup. That low and wide stance also enhances stability, as do the car’s wider 185-section tyres. The Tigor holds its line well enough but there’s more body roll to contend with, courtesy that taller stance and a softer setup. The fact that the tyres are narrow 175-section don’t help either. Where the Tata does fight back is in the ride quality department. At low and medium speeds the Tigor’s ride is more pliant than the Dzire’s.