Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel preview

Men are back. And this time they’d donning diesel engines. Twenty days after DWS Auto broke news of the SX4 diesel’s arrival in three weeks, Maruti has confirmed the much-anticipated sedan will, indeed, launch on Tuesday, February 22.

Update 22/2/2011: Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel launched, price Rs. 7.74 lakh-Rs. 8.62 lakh

DWS Auto will be there at the launch to cover the event and update you about the proceedings. However, those of you who’re dying to get some information on what the SX4 diesel’s capabilities are, here’s a sneak peak of what to expect.

Remember, our detailed Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel road test is still sometime away and will be put up once the car is launched. Here is where you can find all our Indian car reviews

maruti suzuki sx4 diesel photo
Photo: Maruti SX4

Looks

So does the diesel Maruti Suzuki SX4 look any different from its petrol sibling? Nope! Not one bit, unless you count DDiS and VDi/ZDi badging among styling changes. Inside, too, the features spec is identical. We wish Maruti had used this launch as an opportunity to correct some of design kinks of the petrol SX4 and given it some flair. Sadly, there isn’t any jing-bang the SX4 diesel buyer is getting for the extra bucks he’d be shelling.

Engine

Sorry folks, the SX4 won’t be getting the much-speculated 1.6-litre, 115 bhp, at least for now. But don’t lose heart. The 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine, lifted from the Maruti Swift and the Ritz, is capable enough. Besides, Maruti has tweaked the engine to draw more power from the unit. So it now puts out a decent 88.7 bhp @ 4,000 rpm and 20.4 kgm @ 1,750 rpm.

Maruti dubs it a Super Turbo engine, and its fed by a new variable geometry turbocharger that offers improved airflow and efficiency. It’s also surprisingly calm and refined, keeping diesel clatter to a minimum. The upshot is a considerably quiet cabin with NVH levels impressively muted.

The engine is mated to an all-new transmission that’s smooth as silk, making gear shifts a fun exercise. And this is where the SX4 may have an advantage over other diesel rivals, which have slightly stiff, notchy gearboxes.

Ride and Handling

The diesel engine has led to a 55 kg weight gain because of which Maruti has had to calibrate the suspension and brake settings. While that has improved the overall ride quality, especially for rear seat occupants, it has also introduced a fair bit of body roll. Those of you who’ve driven the petrol SX4 might be able to notice the difference in handling instantly.

Make no mistake, the Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel is still a great car to drive around town for everyday commute. It soaks up bumps and coarse surfaces with ease thanks to the ground clearance. But on corners, the diffidence is palpable and the SX4 wallows just a wee bit. The brakes are adequate, though not particularly sharp. Also read more about the Maruti SX4

The Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel is not really for adrenaline junkies but then this car is meant to transport executives to their workplace, not break land speed records. The pace is progressive and the sedan effortlessly climbs to the 120 kmph mark. Pin the throttle hard and the needle can travel beyond the 150 kmph though at this point you might hear the engine wail “why, oh why?”

Other details

The Suzuki SX4 diesel will be offered in 3 trims: VDi, ZDi and ZDi with leather seats.

Maruti claims the SX4 will deliver a mileage of 21.5 kmpl, which, we agree does sound unrealistic. The actual figure could be closer to 15 kmpl, and that’s not too bad either.

The next 24 hours will be tense for Maruti’s rivals as all of them would be waiting with bated breath to know about the SX4 diesel’s pricing. Vento, Linea, City and company can throw in the towel if Maruti manages to price the SX4 diesel in and under Rs 9 lakh (which it easily can).