With the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax or the GST, just around the corner, the segment that will be most affected will be the sub-4 metre sedan, as it owes its origin to the current excise duty structure - a concept that is unique to the Indian market. With the implementation of GST, the tax structure will be uniform, which is why, if you might have noticed, there've been a bunch of launches, in this segment; and we have two of the latest contenders going head-on - the Maruti Suzuki Dzire and the Tata Tigor.
There's a lot that both these cars have in common, apart from the obvious one of them being subcompact sedans. Well, both the Tigor and the Dzire are derived from hatchbacks; the Tigor is based on the Tiago and the Dzire on the new generation of the Swift (which we've told you so much about).
Both have great credentials too. The Tigor is the most affordable subcompact sedan, while the Maruti Suzuki Dzire has been a top seller, in this segment, for years. Both also carry a huge responsibility, on their shoulders; that being, keeping the subcompact sedan segment relevant, in what are going to be trying times, ahead. But well, now that we've invited both into the ring, let the fight begin.
The Tigor is the better looking of the two. It has a smart rising beltline and a well-designed sloping roof that gives it a coupe-like character. The lines are clean and the proportions are well balanced. You can see that it's the Tiago up front and though Tata Motors has really tried to make it look different, by giving it those smoked headlamps, it doesn't cover the obvious. The rear is the most appealing thing, about the Tigor; and overall, then, the designers at Tata Motors need to be applauded. We also need to put our hands together, for the folks at Maruti Suzuki, as the designers have clearly made the new generation better looking and proportionate.
The Dzire no longer looks like a hatch, with a boot; but rather, a good looking sedan, with its more raked back A-pillar, big grille, like the one, on the new generation Swift, flanked by LED daytime running lights, which look good. There's also a chunky strip of chrome placed between the tail lights, to complete the wider sedan look and overall then the Dzire looks grown up and ready to take on the rest of the competition, in the segment. It's better than before, yes, but not as handsome as the Tigor.
Though the Dzire is not pretty looking, it definitely has a cabin that's as pretty as a picture. Styling touches, like a faux wood trim, across the dash, steering bottom and door panels add a bit of premium value; but yes, I have to admit, there was no real need for it. The top-end version of the Dzire gets a large touchscreen display, with GPS navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; the instruments are simple easy to read and the ergonomics is faultless too. Everything is within reach, right from the gear lever to the cubby holes. Maruti has also worked on increasing the space; and now the Dzire has the most comfortable rear seat. It offers better under-thigh support and more legroom; and the headroom too is very good. This is one area, where it beats the Tigor.
Sadly, there isn't much legroom, at the back of the Tigor; and this after the 50 mm increase, in wheelbase, over the Tiago. Only two people my size can make their way onto the back seat and the headroom isn't good either and you can blame the sloping roof design for that. You also do not get a rear AC vent, but the cabin is compact; so the passengers at the rear won't have that much of a problem. But, the quality of materials used in the car will take you by surprise - it follows the footsteps of the Hexa, which has good quality; in fact, one of the best, we've seen on a Tata product.
The Tigor gets its share of features, like a touchscreen centre console, with mirror link capabilities, but does not get the much needed Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Tigor, in its top spec variants also gets colour coded AC vents, while Navigation is available via an app link only. There's also a reverse camera; but the Harman touchscreen infotainment system, with eight speakers, is a treat. There're also the regular suspects, like AUX, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity, which is more or less a given nowadays, in cars. The Tigor has the advantage, in terms of boot space too. There's 410 litres at your disposal compared to the Dzire's 380.
But, how are they to drive. Well, let's check out the Dzire first. The new generation Dzire is lighter than its predecessor, weighing in at 990 kgs, compared to the 1130 kg Tigor and that's because its platform is based on - HEARTECT. The new frame is a derivative of the one seen on the Baleno and Ignis, in Maruti's line-up, and we get a rigid structure, thanks to the use of high strength steel, in its construction. There is no change, in the engine, though, as the Dzire gets the tried and tested petrol and diesel engines - the 1.2-litre K-Series 4 pot engine and the 1.3-litre diesel. The power on the diesel of the Dzire remains the same, at 74 bhp, and there's 190 Nm of torque, on offer, and it kicks in early, to give you the boost, you need. Also, since the Dzire is lighter, it's more agile and that 5-speed manual transmission slots in well and the clutch pedal is lighter too, which makes things easier for you, in traffic conditions. The NVH levels, on the car, are better than before. However, there is a bit of a sound, in the diesel, once the revs build up, to 4000 rpm; but otherwise, the engine noise is well curtailed. The ride quality is better too and the Dzire soaks in all the potholes, on the roads. You don't crash around, when it goes through something deeper either. But, did it really need a flat bottom steering? Not really, as there's nothing sporty, about the car.
There's nothing sporty about the Tigor either - its 1.2-litre petrol engine churns out 83 bhp and the 1.1-litre diesel, just 69 bhp. There's less torque on offer too, compared to the Dzire and the diesel engine is loud, less refined and underpowered. Tata Tigor's petrol variant is lazy off the mark and you miss the eagerness that the Dzire shows. The Tigor deals with bumps rather well, but not better than the Dzire. The suspension thuds at high speeds, which is why you get a bit of a bouncy ride. There's body roll too, which is not amusing either, for the driver or the passenger. Sadly, you don't get an AMT, in the Tigor; while the Dzire is available, with an Automatic Gear Shift (AGS as it calls it), in both petrol and diesel. Considering the Tiago gets an AMT, the Tigor too might soon get one, we feel.
The Tigor is the cheaper of the two and the diesel starts from ₹ 5.60 lakh, going all the way up to ₹ 7.90 lakh. The newly launched Dzire starts at ₹ 6.45 lakh and goes up to ₹ 9.41 lakh, for the AMT. The petrol Tigor costs ₹ 4.7 lakh to ₹ 6.19 lakh; while the Dzire petrol comes priced at ₹ 5.45 lakh to ₹ 8.41 lakh. Though pricey, Maruti still has a winner, on its hands; and though the Tigor puts up a brave fight, it can't really match up to the well -rounded package of ride quality, features and grown-up looks that the Dzire has to offer. So the winner, in this contest, is the bestseller!