I test drove the Maruti Suzuki Ritz ZXI (Petrol) last weekend. I am comparing it to the Swift as I think customers will find it tough to decide between these two cars from Maruti.
- I like the front and the front 3 quarter view. Looks like a mature grown up Swift !
- To get used to the rear I may have to start drinking something stronger than non-alcoholic beverages and quite a bit of it as well till my vision blurs. The rear doesn’t look too bad when the car has wider tires (like on the ZXI) and also when it is on the move. When stopped and up close it does look a oddish nice kind of strange.
- The side view is interesting till the C pillar – then almost like the designers ran out of paper/screen space while making the drawing they stopped with a vertical line and ended the rear !
- You will tire of hearing about the “boomerang” shaped tail lights from the dealer sales person very quickly. You would wish you had a real boomerang to fling at the sales guy. The tail lamps are pulled inwards and a strange window lineof the side windows is seen when viewed from the full straight rear position.
- The exterior door handles, ORVMS are the same/very similar as the Swift. Rear bumper fog lamp looks similar.
- The bonnet seems higher than the Swift. Good for gently tapping errant pedestrians and accounts for better pedestrian safety for sure.
Here is a side by side comparison of the Swift (my own car) and the Ritz exteriors.
- The seating position is a bit higher than in the Swift and seats feel the same. Almost like sitting on a cushion and driving the Swift.
- The front quarter glass was a nice touch and helps a bit with visibility up front but there is still a huge blind spot at the A-pillar. Otherwise front visibility is good.
- Visibility from the back will take some getting used to as the rear glass seems a bit small.
- Rear wash/wipe & defogger only on the ZXI (just like the Swift).
- The space saved by moving the gear lever in front isn’t used for anything.
- The outside rear view mirrors are well placed, right sized and useful.
- Lot of the interior is borrowed/shared with the Swift but still some cost cutting seems to have been there. Indicator/Wiper stalks, steering wheel, door locks & power window switches are all the same. Ashtray is the same. Gear lever knob is almost the same. Interior roof light seems the same.
- The open glove box in addition to the closed one on the ZXI with the airbags is very useful – something the Swift ZXI doesn’t have and wastes space because of the airbags. The coin holder and storage space on the top of the dashboard is also good. Glove box seems similar in size to the Swift.
- The front door pockets have storage space for bottles. There is only one central console mounted cup holder.
- The steering mounted stereo controls are good but a bit annoying till u get used to them since they are in the spot the horn is on my car. Instead of honking I found myself increasing the stereo volume or muting the stereo without wanting to. The buttons seem a bit delicate and fiddly. More video game like than car like.
- The increased head room allows 3 people to sit a lot more comfortably at the back than in a Swift. Legroom in the back was more than adequate. Feels more spacious than the Swift.
- Luggage space was almost the same as the swift. If you want to carry a lot of luggage you should look at other vehicles possibly sedans. The 60:40 split is possibly the only saving grace of this car – I really wish the Swift had this.
- The two tone dashboard was of a slightly vague light blue-grey color. I didn’t care for it too much. Matching colors to the exterior would have made sense but someone at Suzuki likes that weird color of blue.
- The front under seat storage is a joke. Very small and without a lock. A newspaper and a magazine may just fit into it. If it were metal it could have been used to bake brownies – it was shaped like that.
- Air conditioning seemed just about adequate (maybe the larger glass areas and lack of tints on the Demo car and the hot summer sun was a factor). I may have been spoilt by driving around with climate control and dark tinted small windows in the Swift. Blower fan gets noisy at “3″ position. The side vents close fully and are a design different from the Swift. The climate control is the only key feature missing on the Ritz that the Swift has.
Drive & Handling:
- It took some time to get used to the gear shifter because it is positioned almost a half a foot ahead of the gear shifter in the Swift/most cars. The gear shifter felt really good and the shifts were very precise – even better than the Swift. For people with multiple cars this gear shift will be a difficult to get used to, especially when you have to switch cars daily. On the move the car is very silent and the engine barely lets you know it is on and running and at idle it was very silent. It did make some minimal noise when pushed but for it to move you have to push it past 3000 RPM. The older Swift engine would be screaming a nice song at 3K RPM.
- Clutch, brake & accelerator pedals are the same as the Swift. Clutch is light and easy to use.
- First gear seemed ok enough but the 2nd gear seemed a bit lethargic and the 3rd gear seemed pretty decent. I barely managed to get to 4th before I had to shift down because of traffic. By then the TD was over and we were back at the dealership.
- The separate tachometer was a bit distracting in my view. Maybe since I am used to a tachometer next to the speedometer.
- The ride was smooth and handled rough patches of road without too much noise and without losing balance. It didn’t feel top heavy like the Wagon-R does when taking turns at speed. The wider stance has to be thanked for it.
- Visibility out front is very good and maneuvering the car in traffic is easy. Of course it is not an 800 but easy enough to drive.
There seems to be sufficient interest in the car at the dealership and there was a steady stream of people coming to do test drives. Was almost knocked down by an 80 year old man and his wife who were rushing to TD the Ritz. This couple was doing the TD after finalizing the deal for buying the car !!!!! The people coming to TD the Ritz seem to primarily be ones who are married and have a family.
The dealer also mentioned that Maruti is forecasting long delays on all other vehicles other than the A-Star, Ritz and SX4 to make sure the sales of these continues. They are also trying as much as possible to not take bookings of any vehicle other than the above mentioned 3 cars. Even test drives of other vehicles are not being done ! I think this may backfire and cause people to defect to Hyundai , Tata and other manufacturers. Need to wait and see how well the Ritz is received and also if Hyundai and Tata sales go up because of Maruti.
Which one is better ?
There is no binary answer to this question. The Ritz is better than the Swift because of its fuel efficient, lighter, newer engine, interior space, features. The Swift is better than the Ritz for its looks, sporty responsive drive, slightly better trim level and features. Both seem to have their good features.
- If you want a new car that does everything well, has seating space for 5 and will offend no one – take the Ritz.
- If you have dreams of up-sized/wide alloys rims, low profile tires, spoilers, body kits, vinyl stickering and sports tuning then go for the Swift.
Test drive both and then just flip a coin and choose whichever one. You win with either of the two !
PS: Thanks to Senthil for the photos !