Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
IT was during this year’s Manila International Auto Show when Suzuki Philippines (SPH) initially revealed the all-new Dzire to the public. While it’s still based on the Swift platform, the name was finally dropped from the badge and gave the vehicle its sole identity. From what used to be regarded as the Swift with a trunk, now holds its own ground in the subcompact sedan segment.
The completely modified external look emerged leaner by scrapping off the boxy edges in favor of curvy profiles. For the most part, transformations concentrated more at the front end. Noteworthy is the fresh hexagonal grille with chrome frame, which is totally distant from what current Suzuki models have. It complements the newly-shaped halogen headlamps along with the new bumper design. Moreover, the two separate chrome trims provided more emphasis for the fog lamps.
The rear end, meantime, also received new sets of tail lamps with a chrome bar in between plus more delineations. Those 15-inch multi-spoke alloy rims wrapped in 185/65 series rubbers matched well with the wheel arcs. Overall, the new external design cues positioned the all-new Dzire within the signature sedan styling in the market.
Interior-wise, everything is also new, ergonomic and well-laid out. Notable is the new D-shaped steering wheel complementing the instrument panel with silver accents and wide solid outlines. The cabin also benefited from the better-looking new seats with bigger bolsters for stability. Interestingly for a subcompact car, Suzuki did a great job on installing rear air-con vents paired with a12-volt socket for the rear passengers to appreciate.
Another revision was the new K-series 1.2-liter with VVT petrol engine under the hood. It generates 82 hp at 6,000 rpm and 113 N-m of maximum torque at 4,200 rpm. But the all-new Dzire’s major breakthrough lies in Suzuki’s newly developed five-speed automated manual transmission with Auto Gear Shift (AGS) solely for the GL+ variant. Impressively, this manual gearbox utilizes an intelligent actuating system, which controls the shifting electronically based on precise vehicle speeds. Shifting operations are also controlled by the engine-management system depending on certain throttle openings. So imagine enjoying both the convenience of operating an automatic transmission with the efficiency, responsiveness and fun aspects from a manual gearbox.
There are only two variants being offered. The GL with five-speed manual transmission is priced at P638,000, while the GL+ with AGS is valued at P698,000. Available colors to choose from are Premium Arctic White, Metallic Silky Silver (GL only) and Pearl Midnight Black. Body shades exclusive to the GL+ variant are Premium Oxford Blue, Premium Sherwood Brown and Metallic Magma Gray.
Auto gear shifting on the track
AHEAD of its formal launch later this month, SPH recently gave select members of the motoring media the first dibs to try out the all-new Dzire equipped with AGS. Set on a 3.7-kilometer track of the Batangas Racing Circuit, we get to experience first hand Suzuki’s latest technology.
“It is with pride that we share with Filipinos the latest technology of the Suzuki brand through the all-new Dzire with Auto Gear Shift. After seeing how enthusiastic the local market is about our product and service offerings, particularly this first quarter of 2018, we at Suzuki Philippines became even more inspired to pursue even more strongly our goal of sharing the Suzuki Way of Life with more Filipinos,” said SPH Vice President and General Manager for Automobile Shuzo Hoshikura.
On the track and on auto drive mode, the mechanism mimics the feel of operating a stick shift every time it switches gear from a steady press on the accelerator pedal. We find that slight jerk feel in between shifts fascinating enough and the direct drive feel was actually there. On the other hand, by releasing the pedal whenever you feel the need to change gear, the operation lessens the slight jerk feel to almost none. Here you’ll appreciate how the AGS advantage steps in to self-adjust electronically in delivering seamless gear movements.
A couple of laps to go, we proceeded with higher speeds in order to assess the AGS under manual drive mode. Acceleration feel was more than enough from a small motor but the light and rigid frame made it easier for the vehicle to achieve a quick spurt. Also, it was during this phase when the drive mode became an advantage in doing engine braking to tackle turns. Upshifts also made faster while you toggle from one gear to another.
While doing faster turns, the vehicle also demonstrated impressive handling and control. You’ll get enough feedback from the helm enabling you to steer correctly to the targeted direction. There were also minimal body rolls allowing the nimble and small frame to easily exit tight turns. Braking, on the other hand, was also impressive during abrupt and forceful applications. Meanwhile, we decided to further examine the cabin space after the test run. Again, Suzuki validated its expertise in creating space for small vehicles. For a subcompact frame, the amount of legroom at the rear is almost as spacious as with compact sedans out there.