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Maruti injects new Dzire with aspiration to woo young buyers

Murali Gopalan | Updated on January 11, 2018

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The Swift brand association will no longer continue with the sedan that debuts shortly

As a product, it had everything going in its favour.

The Swift Dzire was the clear leader of the compact sedan segment with a market share of over 50 per cent. However, what was missing was the aspiration quotient and this is the gap Maruti Suzuki intends to fill with its all-new Dzire that will be launched in the coming days.

“The key is to have an authentic sedan that offers space and fuel efficiency, which, in turn, will make it more aspirational and desirable,” says CV Raman, Executive Director (Engineering). In the process, it only made sense to knock off the Swift hatchback association and the set the Dzire brand in motion on its own.

Coping with the reality

One big challenge, of course, is coping with the reality that the compact sedan space has been facing headwinds lately. Maruti’s offering has been comfortably averaging annual sales of over two lakh units annually but there is no denying the fact that there is greater traction with cab aggregators. The personal buyer has been queuing up for compact SUVs and premium hatchbacks with the result that the compact sedan segment is clearly at the crossroads.

It is here that Raman and his team are keen to get the mojo back into the Dzire and make it an attractive option for young customers. “It was apparent from our brand survey that aspiration was missing in the current Dzire, which meant that we had to revisit areas such as design, styling and comfort,” he says.

It was equally clear to buyers that the existing option on offer was a hatchback that had been converted into a sedan. In today’s more design-conscious environment, this could no longer continue if the Dzire brand had to reach out to more buyers.

New look Dzire

The new model has a more inclined windshield with greater legroom space as well as a larger boot. Maruti also realised that the exteriors had to be rich in surfacing and look good with a new grill in place. The Dzire that is now ready for launch looks elegant and these added features should hopefully ignite the aspiration quotient that was missing lately.

The model will have both petrol and diesel engine options with the additional choice of manual and automatic transmissions. While the 1.2-litre petrol version has shed 85 kg from its old avatar, the diesel will be a good 105 kg lighter. In the process, greater fuel efficiency is assured, which will be an important bait for customers. By the end of the day, cost of ownership is critical for the Indian car buyer and this is a strength that Maruti constantly leverages to hit the bull’s-eye.

“The new Dzire, now devoid of the Swift association, will offer the best in design, comfort, technology and safety,” adds an upbeat Raman. The model’s global development was driven out of Suzuki in Japan with inputs from India. It has been developed for this market and positioned as a top-class value proposition in a project that started nearly four years ago.

“We see more first-time buyers moving into the compact sedan space and the numbers of young customers are growing. With the automatic option, we believe there will be more women queuing up for this new offering,” says Raman.

Since its launch nearly a decade ago, the Dzire has reported cumulative sales of 1.3 million units. While maintaining a comfortable lead over rival models such as the Honda Amaze, Hyundai Xcent, Toyota Etios and Volkswagen Ameo, the overall compact sedan has been getting the cold shoulder in recent times from a new generation of buyers.

Attracting customers

It now remains to be seen how the all-new Dzire draws these people into its fold. If recent successes from Maruti are any indication especially with products such as the Baleno and Vitara Brezza, there is really no issue when it comes to the brand association. The heady market response to these products is a clear indication that the company has grown beyond its small car image and is now seen as a manufacturer of smart, contemporary products in a range of segments.

Ironically, it has been losing momentum in its traditional small car bastion represented by the Alto, which is up against stiff competition from the recently launched Renault Kwid. Maruti is believed to be working on an all-new Alto, which should hopefully reverse the trend.

Yet, from the company’s point of view, what should be more satisfying is the customer’s positive reaction to its new offerings that have helped widen the demographical base. It has not been an easy task to outgrow the small car association but the relentless product planning and marketing efforts have ensured that Maruti’s market share has grown considerably in recent times.

Old timers will recall that in its earlier sedan version, the Baleno did not quite create a strong connect with buyers but all that has changed in its new premium hatchback avatar. Success stories like these will be important motivators for the team involved with the all-new Dzire as it readies to debut during the course of this month.

Like other automakers, Maruti will also have its hands full in a new regime that ushers in a host of changes on safety and emission norms. All these will translate into additional costs in a country, which is among the most price-sensitive car markets in the world.

By the end of this decade, parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation will have farmed out even more responsibilities to its Indian arm, which will include servicing other regions such as Africa and Latin America. It is a robust global Maruti that will emerge in 2020.

Published on May 04, 2017

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