The Indian car market comes of age with the Maruti Suzuki Dzire

The 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire. — Maruti Suzuki handout pic via AFP-Relaxnews
The 2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire. — Maruti Suzuki handout pic via AFP-Relaxnews

NEW DELHI, May 17 — The latest generation of India’s best-selling sedan brings up-to-the-minute styling, safety, infotainment and fuel efficiency to one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets, and in doing so will raise the bar for competitors.

India is starting to fall for the automobile. Car sales jumped within the country by 8 per cent over the course of 2016 hitting an all-time high of 3.32 million new vehicles.

The belated boom is being driven party by improved road infrastructure, partly by better access to credit and also by greater average posterity, particularly among younger consumers.

Designed to appeal to the next generation, the Dzire comes with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility as standard, but away from the gimmicks, it also offers LED projector headlamps, dual front airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioners, ABS braking and ISOFIX mountings for child seats as standard.

“The New Dzire is bound to create plenty of excitement in the Indian automobile market,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director & CEO, Maruti Suzuki. “[It] was specially created for India, and has been one of the most popular brands ever in the Indian automobile industry. Now we have designed a whole New Dzire for sedan customers, to fulfil the growing aspirations of a young and prosperous India.”

And this is key. A host of other carmakers competing for Indian buyers all too often take an existing car design and reverse engineer it to reduce manufacturing costs. All too often this can mean using less rigid construction materials and omitting items such as airbags from the standard equipment list.

For example, Global NCAP the independent car safety organisation that crash-tests new vehicles and awards them a star-based safety rating, this month revealed that an entry-level Indian specification Renault Duster SUV failed to score a single star for driver protection in a collision. However, when the same car, equipped with airbags, was tested, it managed a three-star rating.

Renault is not alone. The Chevrolet Enjoy, built by GM India also scores zero stars when it comes to driver and front passenger protection. And again, this poor safety rating is due to a lack of airbag fitted as standard.

Fortunately, this is about to change. After years of debate and consultation, the Indian government has passed new car safety regulations that will become law from October. From that date, new cars will have to feature airbags, reverse gear parking sensors, a seatbelt unfastened reminder system and a speed-warning system as standard equipment.

And, to ensure that these features make a difference, it has also established its own branch of NCAP that will start testing new cars built for Indian roads. — AFP-Relaxnews

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