Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Review
The Tata Zest is the latest entrant in the high volume sub 4-metre compact sedan segment

Shootout: Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5.51-8.43 lakhs (Tata Zest), Rs. 5.89-8.85 lakhs (Maruti Swift DZire)

The new Tata Zest faces India’s top selling car, it makes the DZire look a tad bit outdated

Taking a leaf out of Tata Motors’ book was Maruti Suzuki, who took the idea of a sub 4-metre sedan and implemented it on the second generation DZire. The result is for all to see, not only is this three-box Swift the top selling sedan in the country, it is also at times the highest selling car in India. India’s largest car maker has massive reach in smaller cities and towns which has led to the DZire’s popularity remaining untouched even after the arrival of the Honda Amaze and Hyundai Xcent. If there is one car which can shake the Dzire, it’s the Tata Zest. The recent arrival in the compact sedan space, the Zest has got a big thumbs up from us but can it better the Maruti DZire. We put both these cars head to head in a shootout to get the answer.

Motor Quest: Maruti Suzuki first launched the Swift DZire in 2008 with the current gen model arriving in 2012. The car replaced the Esteem in the company’s lineup. The Zest on the other hand is a new product based on the X1 platform which also underpins the Manza, the car it replaces.

Maruti DZire vs Tata Zest ShootoutTata Zest vs Maruti DZire Comparo

The Tata Zest has a more soothing design than the Maruti Suzuki DZire which looks odd at the rear

Styling – There is no denying that the Tata Zest is a more appealing car than the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire. Too many DZires on the road, coupled with an unexciting design and not to forget a boot which seems like an after thought, means that the Zest literally walks over the Maruti in the styling department. The Zest is a smart looking car, design highlights are impressive and you instantly appreciate the well integrated boot, sleek front end with daytime running lights and projector headlights, and a more flowing side profile. Being a fresher product, people were keenly looking at the Tata Zest while no one gives the DZire a second glance (not even when it was launched a couple of years back).

2014 Tata Zest User ExperienceMaruti DZire Features

Both cars have an attractive dashboard but the Tata Zest looks more upmarket and has way more features on offer

Interiors – The Maruti DZire has a nice dashboard but the Tata Zest manages to better it. Where the DZire looks simple yet elegant, the Zest is very European which gives it a premium appeal. The dashboard of the Zest also looks more sophisticated, it uses a slew of materials including silver, chrome and piano black inserts. The Zest also annihilates the DZire when it comes to equipment. Tata Motors offers Bluetooth connectivity, guide lamps, projectors, LED daytime running lights, reverse parking sensors and a touch screen audio system on the Zest, none of these features are offered on the Swift DZire.

Tata Zest Rear Seat SpaceMaruti DZire Rear Seat Legroom

With a longer wheelbase and better packaging, the Zest has much more interior space compared to the DZire

Where the Zest brings a strong advantage is the ConnectNext audio system, it is by far the best we have seen in this segment and the unit is so good that even cars costing five times as much can be put to shame. Right from audio quality to small yet significant details (like voice commands), the Zest’s infotainment system is just terrific in every way. Both cars measure the same at 3995 mm but the Zest is wider and taller at 1706 mm and 1570 mm respectively. The wheelbase of the Zest is the biggest in class, it’s 40 mm more than the DZire. The result is, the Zest offers more interior room than the DZire. While the DZire has really good seats, the Zest betters it on that front as well, offering better comfort and overall more room in every direction. With bigger rear door windows, you never feel uneasy sitting in the rear seat of the Zest while the DZire’s small windows induce claustrophobia.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Comparison
The Zest is bigger in dimensions than the DZire, both have good quality

Quality on both cars is excellent but attention to detail is heavy on the Zest, like the doors autolock even after you open them, audio system volume increases with speed (decreases when you go into reverse), tachometer needle glows when you reach the redline, double cranking doesn’t happen with the fuel and temperature meters blinking when you try, etc. Where the DZire has an upper hand over the Zest is storage bins, the Maruti having more places to store things including bigger door pockets and pockets behind the front seats. It also has a rear seat centre arm rest which is surprisingly missing on the Zest. In terms of boot volume, the DZire offers 316-litres while the Zest has a 390-litre trunk. Clearly, the Zest easily trumps the DZire in the interior department with its more spacious cabin, having more equipment on board.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Test Drive Review
Both cars use the same Fiat sourced diesel but the Zest has a VGT and more power

Performance – Till now, the Tata Zest has faired better than the Maruti DZire but can the Indian car continue to beat the Japanese in other parameters? Let’s start with the diesel engine, as there is little to differentiate them. Both cars use the same Fiat sourced 1.3-litre diesel engine but the Zest gets a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). Thus, the Zest has 15 BHP more power and 10 Nm more torque. But that’s not all, the Zest has better engine tuning and there is almost no turbolag in this car, while the DZire has ample lag in the low-end of the powerband. The DZire’s diesel motor is more free revving but performance is better in the mid and top-end, while the Zest shines in the low and mid range, with a weak top-end.

Tata Zest Revotron EngineMaruti Swift DZire Engine

While the Swift DZire has a fantastic petrol engine, the Zest uses turbo power to offer much more torque output

Thus you really have to work the gearbox in the Swift DZire to get going while the more linear performance in the Zest gives it terrific drivability. The Quadrajet mill is so much better than the DDiS unit that you will always choose the Tata vehicle for city driving. Both cars are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, the shifts are smooth and the clutch action is light. However, the Zest also gets an AMT which brings ample convenience of an automatic to this compact sedan. When it comes to petrol power, both cars use a 1.2-litre engine, the DZire’s being a naturally aspirated unit while the Zest having a first in segment turbocharger with three driving modes on offer.

Maruti DZire vs Tata Zest Review
Maruti’s K12 motor fares well in top-end power, the Zest is much more drivable

The Revotron engine equipped Tata Zest also has more juice than the petrol Maruti DZire, producing 4 more PS of power and a whooping 26 Nm more torque. Numbers don’t lie and the Zest has more pep right from the word go. While the DZire is the more fun with its high revving engine which rushes to the redline quickly, the Zest offers better performance and drivability, along with an unheard off (in this segment) drive mode selector. The NVH levels are lower in the Zest with the gearbox and clutch being on par with the DZire’s. In terms of mileage, both cars are very evenly matched and should return very similar numbers. However, petrol or diesel, the Zest is our pick in the performance department as it offers better performance with more tractable motors.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Road Test
Handling and steering feel of the Swift DZire is better than the Zest but not by much

Driving Dynamics – Tata cars aren’t really known for handling but the Zest makes a strong exception here as it is quite potent when it comes to dynamics. Still, the Maruti DZire is the better handling car here but the tyres used by the company are pathetic. If you buy lower trims, you will be given even worst tyres with 165 mm width. Tata Motors uses 185 mm tyres (of Bridgestone make) on the Zest. Thus the grip offered by the Zest is better although the DZire is more involving to drive. The steering wheel on the Zest is heavier than the DZire at all speeds but the feedback is richer in the Maruti vehicle.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Handling
The Tata Zest rides and brakes much better than the Maruti Suzuki DZire

However, when it comes to ride, stability and braking, the Zest beats the DZire hands down. Ride quality on the Zest is so good that the DZire is simply no match at all. The Zest is completely unshaken on roads which unsettle the DZire to quite an extent. The Tata vehicle is also more stable at speed and comes with Corner Stability Control, which is absent on the DZire. Braking performance on the Zest is stronger than that of the DZire too. So if you want a car for handling only, the DZire fares better than the Zest but for everything else in the dynamics department, the Zest comes out on top.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire Shootout
The Zest looks and rides better than the DZire, it also has a better design

Verdict – The Maruti Suzuki DZire has a huge fan following in India and people go and blindly buy this car. The big reason for the high sales of the DZire is that Maruti Suzuki has outlets in such cities where its rivals (Hyundai and Honda) have absolutely no presence. Tata Motors has the second largest dealership network in India, when it comes to passenger cars. Thus in smaller cities where prospective buyers have no other option other than the DZire, there is likely to be a Tata showroom, making the Zest a genuine alternative to the best selling sedan in India.

Tata Zest vs Swift DZire Review
The Tata Zest easily beats the Maruti DZire in this shootout, it’s a better car

As a product, the Tata Zest is just far better than the Maruti DZire, the latter not impressing on several counts like design, rear seat comfort, equipment and braking performance. The Zest manages to beat the DZire hands down in this shootout, it’s the more attractive looking car inside-out with more equipment on offer, better engines, superior performance and a way better ride quality. Tata Motors has priced the Zest very attractively (undercutting the DZire’s price by a significant amount) and getting more for less simply can’t be ignored. Thus the Tata Zest is the easy winner of this shootout.

Tata Motors has taken a huge leap with the Zest. The car is so good that it manages to beat the Maruti Swift DZire on several parameters, making it triumph in this intense compact sedan battle.

Tata Zest vs Maruti DZire
Tata Motors has put in so much effort that it makes the DZire look plain vanilla

Further Reading

Tata Zest Revotron Review
Tata Zest AMT Review
Maruti DZire vs Honda Amaze vs Hyundai Xcent
Honda Amaze vs Tata Zest vs Hyundai Xcent vs Maruti DZire
Hyundai Xcent vs Tata Zest vs Ford Figo Aspire vs Honda Amaze