Driving has always been my passion since my childhood. I was dreaming about my first car since last 2 years. Finances and other family priorities kept me away from realizing my dream. Finally on 26th October 2009, me and wifey decided to buy our own first car.
We got the car delivered on 3rd December – a day after our first wedding anniversary, and a new chapter of our life begun.
It has completed 1000 KMs in about 1.5 months and has gone through 1st free service. Wifey calls it “Golu”, a word generally used for fat, chubby kids .
It does look different from other conventionally designed cars. I like it though. From front, it has a very imposing stance. It is very very tall (may be the tallest of all hatchbacks) and this adds to the bigger feeling you get when you stand by the car. Headlights are very big. The front grill and fog lamps compliment the big headlamps nicely. Coming to the controversial rear design, I find it unique. I love the boomerang shaped tail lamps. They are placed very high touching the roof-line of the car. Paint job is not as good as that of Hyundai or Fiat, but one has to compromise in one or the other aspect.
The moment you step inside the car, you get a BIG feeling. It is very very spacious from inside. All my friends appreciated huge front legroom. The dashboard is one of the longest of the competition and you get a feeling of big car because of it. Quality of plastics used is one of the best amongst all Maruti cars (still no match to Hyundai). Black ZXi comes with dual tone blue-gray interiors. The top of dashboard and door trims have blue shade and other parts are of gray color. This is a unique combination of colors and I must say it looks good. Boot is large enough to hold 2 large suitcases. There is no light provided in the boot.
A-pillar is very thick (standard in modern cars I guess?) and becomes obstructive when taking right turns. One has to be careful, when taking tight right turns. C-pillar is also very thick and rear glass area is very small. Due to this rear visibility is not the best, though I have got used to it. With the help of big sized ORVMs and IRVM, reversing is not a problem anymore that I don’t feel the need for reverse parking sensors as of now. The IRVM is NOT anti-glare though mentioned as automatic day-light mirror in the brochure. There is no switch on the mirror to change as per day or night. I have asked the dealer to escalate this to Maruti, but no response have been received so far.
All the controls (AC, Music System, Wiper and light stalks) are placed at conveniently reachable distance for the driver. Speed-o-meter is one big dial with lot of small warning signs around it. I didn’t like it initially but have now settled with the looks. Once you get used to it, it is very easy to spot things. One thing I love is the position of RPM-meter. As everyone knows, it is placed on the dashboard, which is ideal if you change gears based on RPMs. You don’t have to look all the way down through the steering, just a quick glance gives you current RPM. Dual horn is very good, it’s loud and sharp. Much better than that of i10, which feels like a moped’s horn.
Tilt steering and driver seat height adjustment has good amount of range to satisfy both tall and short drivers. The essential controls like steering, clutch, brake and accelerator are little harder (compared to i10 I test drove) but gives good response to be confident. Central locking has a very good feature that all the doors get locked once car crosses 20 KMPH speed. Doors do not get unlocked when engine is switched off on signals (my colleague’s Elantra gets unlocked when engine is switched off). Hatch door is also unlocked when you unlock all the doors using central or remote locking. There is no lever provided to release the hatch door from inside, you have to unlock all the doors. Haven’t used the fog lamps so far, so can’t comment on their usefulness.
AC is very very effective but lack of automatic climate control is disappointing. It cools the cabin (including rear passengers) really fast. I always keep the blower to position 1 and temperature gauge at around 9 o’clock. Front and rear defoggers work like a charm and glass gets cleared within seconds. Front wipers are not of great quality, it leaves quite a lot marks and doesn’t swipe completely. Rear wiper is a boon for me as I can’t drive without rear vision. The motor for rear wiper is inside the door and is not insulated I guess because it makes noise when activated.
Music system –
ZXi model comes with factory fitted Nippon music system. Sound quality is adequate for me. Sound is pretty clear at lower volumes (enough to cut out all the outside noise) with enough bass. Quality of the FM output is more than I expected. Controls on the head unit are not very user friendly and one has to go through the user manual to understand all the different functionalities. Size of the head unit screen is very small with very little information displayed at any given point of time. Haven’t tried the Aux-in functionality yet. Lack of USB is disappointment, one would expect to get USB when you spend 5.5+ lakhs on a car. Audio controls on the steering is again a boon as the driver doesn’t have to reach out to head-unit. Head unit comes with a remote control also, which can be used by co-passengers to operate the music system. 4 speakers are placed inside 4 doors, which starts jarring at higher volumes.
Engine Performance –
In this department, I can only compare my car to the i10 I test drove. The engine is very much silent throughout all the gears except for lower RPMs in idle. When idle, RPM keeps hovering between 600 to 750, and when near 600 the engine does vibrate which you can feel through the steering. Lower gears have enough grunt for slow moving traffic. Engine comes to its life when it crosses 1600 RPM and you can suddenly feel a thrust when you rev the engine (not in the leagues of a turbo though). If you can keep the car at around 2000 RPM all the time, you won’t feel lack of power ever. One good thing about the engine is, it feels very responsive even at higher speeds (85 KMPH is the maximum I have done so far because of running-in period), just with a small push on the accelerator, you can feel the car giving good feedback.
I haven’t felt any difference in engine response when AC is switched ON. One strange thing I have noticed is, when clutch is pressed the RPM goes up (don’t know if this is true with all the cars). As mentioned above, gear lever is positioned on the center console of the dashboard. Very convenient to hold. The lever is very short with accurate shifting. The throw is also very short and it slots perfectly except for reverse gear, which doesn’t engage sometimes.
ZXi comes factory fitted with 185/70 R14 JK Vectra tyres. They are fine as far as you are running on smooth roads, but start making lot of noise on not-so-smooth roads. I did want to upgrade to either Yokos or Michelins, but couldn’t because of financials. Alloys that are used are really really good and gels well with my Black car. Never felt the need to buy better looking alloys. Spare tyre also comes with alloy wheel.
The ride is not as smooth as I expected. It was bit bumpy. When I checked the air pressure for the first time after about 10 days, I found that it was 41 PSI in all 4 tyres . I got it reduced to 30 (manual says 29 for all 4) and ride has improved after that. Cabin is insulated pretty well from outside noise. Front seat comfort is much better compared to rear. I haven’t sat in the rear seat so far, but I think it is not as comfortable as front though none of the rear seat passengers have complained so far. Ground clearance is 170mm and coupled with shorter wheelbase in its class, the under-body of the car doesn’t touch any of the devil speed-breakers on Bangalore roads (with car fully loaded).
I use only Shell normal petrol for my bike and car both. First full tank (measured over 428 KMs) gave me 14.46 KMPL in city with AC ON all the time. 40% of the time, car was driven in typical Bangalore bumper-to-bumper traffic and rest of the time, bit relaxed city traffic. 50% of the time car was fully loaded with 5 adult passengers.