The competition in the sub 4-metre segment has started gaining momentum. Some manufacturers are trying fit in compact SUVs like the Mahindra Quanto and the upcoming Ford EcoSport, some are planning for jacked up hatchbacks like the Volkswagen CrossPolo and Tata Vista D90 Xtreme while some are struggling to add a boot to their hatchbacks under the 4-metre category to enjoy the excise benefits offering attractive price tags. The real competition lies is the case of Maruti Suzuki and Honda, where the segment leader Maruti Swift DZire will compete head on with the Honda Amaze in terms of pricing, design as well as engine options.
Starting from the tech specs, the Maruti Swift DZire is powered by two engine options including 1.2-litre K-series petrol engine and 1.3-litre CRDi diesel engine. The 1.2-litre petrol motor produces 86 BHP of maximum power at 6000 RPM and 114 Nm of peak torque at 4000 RPM, while the 1.3-litre diesel engine is good for 75 BHP of maximum power at 4000 RPM with 190 Nm of peak torque at 2000 RPM. Both the engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard with 4-speed automatic transmission being optional with the petrol motor. The petrol version returns 19.1 km/l of fuel efficiency, while the diesel version returns a fuel efficiency figure of 23.4 km/l.
The soon to be launched Honda Amaze is the first diesel Honda, which is powered by a 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol motor and the latest 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine. The 1.2-litre petrol version is capable of producing 88 BHP of maximum power at 6000 RPM and 110 Nm of peak torque at 4800 RPM, while the 1.5-litre diesel churns out a class leading 98.6 BHP of peak power at 3600 RPM with 200 Nm of peak torque at 1750 RPM. The petrol engine comes mated to an option of a 5-speed manual and automatic transmission, while the diesel engine is coupled to only a 5-speed manual gearbox. The petrol powered Amaze returns a fuel efficiency figure of 18 km/l and the diesel powered version returns a whopping 25.8 km/l.
Thus in terms of powertrains alone, Honda has an edge. While the petrol motors are on par when it comes to output, Honda offers a better automatic gearbox, which has an extra gear over the DZire. In terms of diesel engines, Honda’s engine is slightly noisier but offers better performance thanks to an extra 25 PS of power, while at the same time returns higher mileage.
In terms of styling, adding a boot to the Maruti Swift DZire looks like an afterthought, which makes the compact sedan look quirky, while the Amaze has been sculpted neatly and looks well proportioned from all angles. Coming to the interiors, the DZire lacks some cabin space but the styling looks premium when compared to the Amaze which carries over the basic interior elements of the Brio but is comparatively spacious with larger boot space and legroom. While the Maruti Swift DZire comes with a starting price of Rs. 4.81 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), the Amaze is expected to come with a slightly premium price tag of Rs. 5.25 lakhs for the base petrol version.
Overall on paper, the Honda Amaze does have an advantage and can really unsettle the DZire. However Maruti Suzuki’s widespread dealership network and image of cheaper spare parts will be hard to beat. Factoring in everything, this is the closest fight in years in the Indian automobile market and the winner is only going to be the consumer. On 11th April 2013, we will know whether Honda has created trouble for Maruti Suzuki or not, when the prices are announced, one of the biggest factors in compact car purchase.