With the much awaited Tata Zest compact sedan around the corner, we thought we’d put together what its up against.
Leading the pack is the Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire– the nationwide bestseller; Honda’s Brio based Amaze, and the latest entrant, Hyundai’s Xcent-based on the successful i10 Grand.
Design: All the cars are designed to fall under the sub 4 meter length category– to enjoy a 12 % excise duty compared to double levied for larger vehicles, allowing manufacturers to price & design vehicles more aggressively. As a result the compact sedans and SUVs were born. The Dzire, Amaze and the Xcent are all stuck with stubby boots with some lashings of chrome and beige on the inside. The Zest’s design manages to look the most cohesive– it can’t hide its Indica(now Bolt) roots, but this is the best job here.
All the cars stop at 4 meters in length. However, the Zest marks its presence by being the widest and the tallest car here, which also translates to more room on the inside– a much-needed onus in this segment. However, the Xcent scores on having the most boot space.
We think that The Zest simply looks the most pleasing of the lot. It’s not the freshest design, but miles ahead of the erstwhile Indigo CS. Compact sedans aren’t the best to look at, but Tata Motors have done their bit to integrate the boot in a respectful manner with the rest of the design- without making it look like a glorified hack-job. Along with the re-designed interiors-better fit/finish new trim/materials, the Zest does look desirable.
Engines & MILEAGE: The Zest will debut with Tata’s brand new Revotron1.2 liter 4 cylinder petrol motor, a turbocharged unit with 90PS of power and 140Nm of peak torque available from as low as 1750 revs- this one promises excellent drivability combined with great efficiency. The 1.3 liter, 90PS Quadra jet diesel remains, but this time around it’s clubbed with an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT); the F Tronic Zest diesel will be the most affordable automatic, diesel powered car in India when launched.Efficiency figures are still to be announced.
The Swift Dzire gets its share of formidable engines too, shared with the Swift hatchback. The trusty 1.3-liter Fiat-sourced Multijet diesel is hard to argue with- and so is the 1.2-liter K Series petrol. Both motors offer good drivability, are proven, refined and frugal- with ARAI sourced figures of 20.33 kmpl for the diesel and 19.1kmpl for the petrol.
Likewise the Amaze has the Brio’s 1.2 liter i-VTEC petrol mill-very refined, but lacks low end torque & decently frugal- ARAI quotes 18kmpl. However, the car comes with Honda’s first diesel engine (i-DTEC) for India- a 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder affair churning out 100 PS of power, making it the most powerful in its class (diesel). Peak torque also stands at an impressive 200Nm. It also manages to get a best in-class fuel efficiency figure of 25.8 kmpl(ARAI).
Hyundai’s Xcent carries over the 1.2-liter Kappa petrol motor from the i10 Grand, a strong engine with good urban drivability and ARAI sourced 19.1 kmpl– similar to that of the D’zire. There’s a new 3 cylinder diesel motor, displacing a rather small 1.1 liters and delivering 78PS. ARAI says 24.3 kmpl on this one.
The Amaze diesel with its class leading efficiency and power is the pick of the lot here, followed closely by the Dzire’s diesel variant. With the petrol variants, we think that Tata’s Revotron turbo petrol is worth the wait. Apart from that, the Grand i10’s tractable petrol engine makes a strong case for itself.
Features: Amongst the lot, the Hyundai Xcent throws up an impressive feature list. The top end SX variant gets automatic climate control, rear-view camera, steering-mounted audio controls, an audio system with Aux, USB, Bluetooth and 1GB internal storage as standard fare. Dual front airbags are only available on the SX trim. ABS is an option, but only on select variants. It gets a cooled glove box as standard on all variants- pretty cool.
But now the Zest promises to up the ante with new, smarter interiors with fresh trim. Also on the offing is a new interactive audio and infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen offering Bluetooth and smartphone integration, developed closely with HARMAN. The new Revotron petrol engine also offers a choice of three driving modes: ECO, SPORT & CITY- a new feature. Projector headlamps and LED tail-lamps are going to create a buzz in the segment-available only on the top-end trims. The AMT is again a class-first.
The Zest throws up a lot of new things – switchable driving modes, HARMAN infotainment system with touchscreen and AMT are unheard of features for this price and segment. The Xcent follows closely, with the Dzire being the most ill-equipped of the lot.
Pricing: The Swift Dzire starts at Rs 4.85 lakh for the base petrol variant (Lxi), with the top end diesel variants (Zxi) fetching Rs 7.32 lakh.(all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
For the Hyundai Xcent,a 90 percent localization in manufacturing helps- the base petrol variants start at an aggressive, Rs 4.66 lakh, undercutting the Dzire, with the top-end variant retailing at Rs 6.47 lakh. Automatic petrol variants are pegged at Rs 6.3 lakh and Rs 7.2 lakh, while the diesel range is between Rs 5.56 lakh to Rs 7.38 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
The basic petrol Honda Amaze is priced at Rs 4.99 lakh, while the top two variants, both automatics, will cost Rs 6.62 lakh and Rs 7.5 lakh. The base diesel variant is priced at Rs 5.99 lakh, while the top-end one costs Rs 7.6 lakh.
The new Tata Zest comes at a price tag of Rs 4.64 lakh for the base petrol variant and Rs 5.64 lakh for the base diesel variant. The top variants of Zest are priced at Rs 5.99 lakh and Rs 6.99 lakh for petrol and diesel respectively. (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi)
The new Zest does offer a fair bit for the money. Enticing features like the HARMAN infotainment system without the touchscreen and steering mounted controls are available from the XM trim level( second to base) onwards. Also the diesel AMT is a steal at 6.99 lakh.
The Xcent has with its exhaustive list of features; especially on the top end models- the base trims are relatively bare, but the new Tata throws up more, and most of it is accessible from even lower trim levels.
The Amaze and the Dzire have nothing to share here. Both survive on a minimum feature diet.
Verdict: The Tata Zest seems to have a lot going for it. Rich with new features, a good style, and backed up by strong engines and respectable dynamics. Now, with it’s aggressive pricing and other details are announced, the Zest makes a strong case for itself, at least on paper. The diesel powered Amaze and the petrol Xcent follow closely, though that doesn’t stop the Dzire to be the king as far as sales go!
Although, it’d be interesting to see how the Zest withstands the test of time, especially with all the new technology introduced in these cars, and more importantly how old Tata’s tend to lose a little overall sheen over time.
To read our exhaustive review on the Tata Zest 1.2 Revotron petrol click here.