The sub 4-metre category is unique to India! Since the government doles out tax rebates in India for cars under this length, manufacturers work hard to squeeze a lot within a tight space. Maruti had the first mover advantage in this segment with the Dzire but others have caught on over the last couple of years.
We’ve pitched the petrol variants of the top three selling cars in this segment against each other - the Hyundai Xcent, Maruti Dzire and Honda Amaze, to find out which among these is the best!
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - Maruti Suzuki Dzire is essentially the Swift with a boot. The front is distinguished by the large swept back headlamps and a prominent chrome strip in the grille. The front three quarters are all Swift, while the small boot at the rear gets a thick chrome strip. The short and stubby boot design, though doesn’t give it a well balanced look. Overall, the Dzire is a design that won’t excite many, but won’t disappoint any.
Honda Amaze - Like most of the compact sedans, the Amaze is also based on its hatchback sibling, the Brio. There's bug-eyed headlights integrated with a big grille upfront, while a raising body line gives it a sporty character. The boot is best integrated of all the three, and the car looks well balanced as well. Overall, the Amaze looks much more proportionate to any of the three competitors.
Hyundai Xcent - Hyundai Xcent is based on the popular Grand i10 hatchback. The Xcent can split a lot of opinions about its looks. Some love the front end styling, but think the rear is too bulbous, while others simply feel that this is the best design of the lot. Some, on the other end think that the chrome detailing on the rear lamps is good while others think its plain boring.
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - Maruti has upped the game in this department dramatically over the years. Sit inside the Dzire cabin, and an all-beige theme will give you a very roomy and up market feel. Touch the materials, and you will instantly feel the poshness about them. The front seats are the best of the three in terms of support and comfort. The rear seats are just average, they lack the room that the Honda Amaze offers.
Honda Amaze - If you are looking for a chauffeur driven car, and like to sit in the back seats, Honda Amaze is the car for you. While the space is ample in the Amaze, we somehow don't like the dashboard design and materials used. The overall cabin design is a bit boring though, and quality isn’t as good as its main rivals here.
Hyundai Xcent - Hyundai Xcent has used the best materials inside the cabin. The seats are good and comfortable, both in the front and the back. The overall design of the cabin is also well laid and easy to understand. Hyundai is known for giving the best cabin in the budget cars, and the Xcent is no different.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - The Dzire comes powered by a 1.2-litre engine, which is already doing its duty in Swift. It produces 84.3 PS and 115 Nm of torque combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The gear throws are short and there's ample torque to push the car even on the third and the fourth gear. Also, the Dzire is the most frugal of the lot, with mileage upwards of 20 kmpl.
Honda Amaze - The most powerful engine among all the three is fitted inside the Honda Amaze. The 1.2-litre engine cranks out 88 PS and 109 Nm of torque and the numbers are reflected when you push the throttle. The Honda Amaze is one of the best performing compact sedans in the country right now, though, we feel, the gearbox could've been a bit supportive to the engine's capabilities.
Hyundai Xcent - This 4-cylinder 1.2-litre unit is the least capacity engine among the lot and produces 83 PS and 114 Nm. Like the other Hyundais, the engine isn't the best preforming unit in its segment and the light 5-speed manual gearbox doesn't help either. It performs decent enough when put in the city conditions, but runs out of breath on the highways.
Ride and Handling
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - This is one department where it's almost impossible to beat a Maruti. Known for solidly built, the Dzire rides pretty smooth, and even when you are passing through the worst potholes, the cabin doesn't rattle. The handling is also on the same lines and if you are an enthusiastic driver, Dzire is the car for you. Be it the highway, or bumper to bumper traffic, Dzire excels everywhere.
Honda Amaze - The Honda Amaze is a car for all those who love to be chauffeur driven. With tonnes of space and comfortable seats behind, added with Honda's suspension tuning, the ride becomes a breezy affair. Handling is not at par with the Dzire, yet Honda excels at the in-city maneuvering. At high speeds, though, neither the ride quality, nor the handling is so confidence generating.
Hyundai Xcent - Hyundais are never known for their handling capabilities and the Xcent is no different. The steering doesn't infuse much confidence when on highway and high speed cornering is required. Though, while travelling through the city, it's not that bad and is good enough to carry you from point A to B, and so is the ride quality, which is a bit on the softer side, good for the city travels.
Safety and Features
Maruti Suzuki Dzire - Maruti Suzuki Dzire has seen a huge improvement over the first generation and comes with steering mounted controls, automatic climate control and infotainment system with bluetooth connectivity. Airbags, ABS and EBD perform the safety duty in the Dzire.
Honda Amaze - Honda Amaze comes with a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and bluetooth connectivity. Surprisingly, there's no automatic climate control, in any of the variants and neither it has auto fold ORVMs. In terms of safety, the Amaze offers dual airbags, ABS and EBD.
Hyundai Xcent - Hyundai Xcent offers the most comprehensive set of gadgets in this category. The Xcent comes with features like the automatic headlights, automatic climate control, infotainment system with bluetooth connectivity and much more. In terms of safety, Xcent offers dual airbags, ABS and EBD.
This one battle doesn't end up with a clear winner for a single reason, every car has their own advantage. If you are in the market looking for a frugal car with better driving dynamics, Maruti Suzuki Dzire is the car for you. If you are looking for oodles of space in the rear seats and reliable engine, Honda Amaze is the car for you. For everything else, there's Hyundai Xcent! It has the best-in-class features, comfortable seats, good fit-and-finish, making it a better package overall.