For a diesel automatic, the Swift DZire AMT is an extremely fuel-efficient car – but with an automated manual, how does it perform in the real world?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire is India’s highest selling sedan, and the second highest selling car in the country. Maruti now aims to take this already successful recipe forward with the inclusion of an automatic gearbox – well, an Automated Manual Transmission to be exact. The Swift DZire AMT is being offered in the diesel model, which accounts for a significant chunk of sales for this compact sedan. However, considering that it’s an automated manual unit, can the Swift DZire AMT attract even more buyers to the fold – especially considering that the AMT is only offered in the top-spec ZDi trim with a sticker price of Rs. 8.40 lakhs?
Needless to say, the Swift DZire AMT’s engine needs no introduction – as it’s the country’s favourite diesel engine, which does duty in numerous models across brands. Fire up the 1.3 litre, common-rail turbo-diesel engine, and you’re greeted by a familiar note at idle from the oil burner. Slot the gear lever into Drive, and the creep function of the gearbox lets the car get off the line in a smooth manner. The gearbox is programmed to shift to second gear at 2,000rpm – and while this isn’t a problem usually, when you happen to be in between speed breakers for instance, the car holds the revs in first and it can get a little annoying. Even if you slot it into manual mode, it simply refuses to shift up from first gear if you’re under 2,000rpm – perhaps to compensate for lag from the turbo. As a result of which it gets a little loud in the cabin as well.
Another typical bugbear of an AMT is the fact that gear changes aren’t quite as smooth as they are in a more traditional torque convertor automatic transmission. But that’s a small price to pay for an affordable machine with automatic shifts. Moreover, there is one way in which you can avoid jerky shifts – and that’s if you lift off the accelerator pedal when the gearbox is changing up, as you would do in a car with a manual transmission. Of course, you would follow the same method if and when you decide to change gears manually as well. And, honestly, this is a small price to pay considering that you can have an automatic variant for just Rs. 50,000 more than the manual ZDi model.
Now that we’ve discussed the character of the AMT at slower speeds, let’s get up to speed and see what the car feels like out on the open road. Well, most of the time it’s a smooth ride and the gearbox is quick to downshift when you need a quick surge of power.
With 74bhp on tap, the Swift DZire diesel was never a particularly fast car – and with the AMT gearbox transmitting power to the wheels you do notice the slight lack of grunt. In automatic mode, the gearbox shifts up at 4,000rpm – and while you can take it all the way to the redline in tiptronic mode, it begins to run out of breath a little past the 4,200rpm mark. Plus, having an AMT gearbox doesn’t really help its case with slower gearshifts than a manual.
Nevertheless, considering the convenience of the automatic gearbox, and the availability of a healthy 190Nm of peak torque at 2,000rpm, and a relatively free revving engine, the Swift DZire diesel automatic feels responsive at city speeds and is an absolute breeze to drive in traffic with its compact dimensions.
The steering weighs up nicely once the speeds go up, but lacks a bit of confidence until the heaviness kicks in. Otherwise, the car feels well balanced, stays planted at high speeds, and can take sweeping bends with ease.
While that’s the end of this review, we still haven’t come to the best bit about the car as yet. In the 1,300 kilometres that I drove the car, the Swift DZire AMT returned an urban fuel efficiency of 21.1km/l. That’s absolutely fantastic as a real world efficiency figure with a running cost (fuel only) of around 2 Rupees and 57 paisa per kilometre. Club that with its ease of driving, and you’ve got a pretty good everyday runabout!
- Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire
Engine: 1,248cc / 4-Cylinder / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-Speed AMT / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 74bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 190Nm @ 2,000rpm
Price: Rs. 8.40 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
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