CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – "Affordable motoring" is a term I hear increasingly often. More and more buyers are looking for a car that won’t cost an arm and a leg to purchase outright and – just as importantly – will be cheap to maintain in the long run. Thankfully, there are a few options on our market. Suzuki is one of the leaders (or arguably the leader) when it comes to launching compact cars that tick all the boxes for these buyers.

The Suzuki Swift hatch has long been a firm favourite of the CAR team, with its broader popularity also reflected in impressive monthly sales figures. As a reminder, the refreshed Dzire is based on the same platform as the Swift, but offers that larger boot of 288 litres (versus the hatchback’s 224 litres).

What's new?

This facelift is fairly minor, distinguished visually by items such as a new grille, front bumper and a few fresh shiny details. There are also two new exterior colours on offer: Premium Silver Metallic and Phoenix Red Pearl. According to Suzuki, updated cloth upholstery has also been introduced to the cabin as well. The GL variant, meanwhile, is now fitted with 15-inch alloy wheels (replacing the previous steel units), while more importantly, all models now ship standard with an electronic stability programme.

Behind the wheel

Mechanically, the little sedan is unchanged. This means the naturally aspirated 1,2-litre, four-cylinder engine still produces 61 kW and 113 N.m. These are modest figures, but in the lightweight Dzire they result in respectable acceleration. The engine loves to rev and you quickly realise that it's best to use the upper echelon of the rev range to make strong progress. For the record, in our road test of the pre-facelift GL variant, we recorded a 0-100 km/h time of 11,32 seconds.

From the driver’s seat, there is nothing that tells you that you are driving anything other than a Swift; it's only when you need that larger boot that the Dzire distinguishes itself. The gearlever still moves between the five forward gears with a wonderful level of directness and overall the car feels light and nimble. The infotainment system is basic (which you would expect at this price point) but offers Bluetooth connectivity – though we did initially struggle to connect our phones. All models are also fitted with two airbags as standard, as well as ABS with EBD and brake assist.

Summary

For everyday driving, the Dzire has the basics very competently covered. It possesses that solid feeling we’ve appreciated from Suzuki for so long and feels as though it will last for many years. Expect some delayed performance from the automated manual model, though. The manual, however, offers a well-sorted driving experience, mirroring exactly what we enjoy most about the Swift range, just with extra luggage space.



FAST FACTS

Model: Suzuki Dzire 1,2 GL
Price: R196 900
Engine: 1,2-litre, four cylinder, petrol
Power: 61 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 113 N.m at 4 200 r/min
0-100 km/h: 11,32 seconds (tested)
Top Speed: 175 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 4,9 L/100 km
CO2: 116 g/km
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Service Plan: 2-year/30 000 km