When the Maruti Kizashi in India was launched a month ago, we at Indiandrives were excited about it. Especially because the Kizashi is a niche product especially considering that the manufacturer has always failed with highly priced products. Here brand name counts more than the product on offer. Its combination of good looks plus performance on tap can make any auto enthusiast swoon over but then detest the car on seeing the Suzuki logo. The news that almost 400 Kizashis have been booked in India is indeed a “sign of good things to come” but is the competition worried. To add to the confusion, the Kizashi doesn’t compete with any product directly. It is straddled between the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry. Wow. To clear this confusion, we have got two of its competitors. One from the lower strata and one from the upper. The two competitors are Skoda Laura and the Skoda Superb. Battle Royale begins and just read on to know the full account of this encounter.
Maruti Kizashi : The Maruti Kizashi in India has been discussed extensively and new Maruti Kizashi test drive would say it all. However for the sake of the uninitiated, the car looks like a Maruti SX4 on steroids. It gets an Audi inspired grille which has got that Suzuki honeycomb effect with the big Suzuki logo sitting right on top of it. The air dam in the meanwhile is somewhat subtle and features fog lamps at the side slits. The head lamps however are different and not the same like the SX4, well almost and Suzuki has tried this bit. The wing mirrors aren’t chunky and feel out of place on this big Suzuki. The 17 inch multi spoke alloy wheels looks good on this car. Coming to the rear, it is what distinguishes it from the other cars in India. The stubby rear end with the integrated spoiler and twin bazooka tail pipe units does cut a distinct picture.
Skoda Superb : The Skoda Superb in India has been also reviewed and even compared in our previous articles of Skoda Superb. Viewed head on, it looks very much like a Skoda with the pinched nose featuring the Skoda logo and the baton shaped big fog lamps. The 16 inch wheels on our tester look stately as any Skoda should look like.The rear end unlike the Kizashi isn’t as distinguishable and seems more suited to the Volkswagen family (Skoda is also a part of the Volkswagen family). The split tail lamps along with the not so visible tail pipe doesn’t suit a sedan of this caliber. But were you in Germany, this would have been the norm and wouldn’t have seemed out of place there.
Skoda Laura : Checking out the Skoda Laura in India, which also has been covered in our review section of Skoda Laura, it looks just like a scaled down Superb. The distinguishing lines, apart from the sizes, is the shorter bonnet of the Laura over the Superb and also the missing chrome strip from the grille. The Laura also gets 16 inch wheels and from the sides, the Laura can easily be distinguished. Amongst the 3, the Laura looks the most staid from the rear end. There are multi reflectors on the lower bonnet and just like the Superb, the tail pipe is hidden from view.
To have the most distinguishable car in a crowd is definitely a plus point and the Maruti Kizashi in India wins squarely on this count. The other two can be put in any order based on your preference.
Maruti Kizashi : Unlike any other Maruti in the country is what one’s first reaction would be. But then peer closely and some SX4 bits are evident. The central control plastics and some buttons seem lifted from the SX4/Swift bin. But then there are some good bits like the indicator stalks, the upper part of the dashboard and the general feeling of airiness. Not a panel feels out of place and there are many goodies on offer too. Like the keyless entry and ignition, 4 CD changer system with USB and AUX input, climate control and rear AC vents. The seats themselves are comfortable and pampering. That is the front ones. The rear ones seem a bit off track with the transmission tunnel intrusion making it a strict four seater. Tall passengers would most likely face a problem of touching their knees caps on the front passenger seat. 461 liter is what the stubby boot can hold.
Skoda Superb : The Skoda Superb in India has got what we call “attention to detail”. It has got beige trim with wooden inserts all over the dash to lend it a premium air. The meter dials are big and legible whereas the 3 spoke steering wheel, though initially feels out of angle, does boast of having steering mounted controls for Audio and cruise control. The Superb gets a touch screen audio system which not only cranks out good music but also entertains bluetooth connectivity. There is ambient lighting all around the cabin to suit different moods. Build quality is what you would describe for a battle tank. Front seats as also the rear ones are very comfortable. Though there is the tranmission tunnel intrusion at the rear, it isn’t so bad as the one in the Kizashi. Space is also more wherein which one can stretch their legs and still not hit the front seats. There are audio as also climate control controls for the rear passengers. The boot is bimodal meaning it can open like a hatch’s or completely. Space provided for luggage is 525 liters.
Skoda Laura : The Skoda Laura in India is also built to Skoda’s high specifications. However stepping into the Laura’s interiors wouldn’t make you go wow as they would have a few years ago. Well, the interiors are still well appointed but the lack of certain features for the basic trims cuts some points off the list. A bit of effort is required to get into the front seats whereas the equipment level speaks of regular AC, 2 CD player system and rear aircon controls. There is enough space at the rear however the Kizashi runs its close with more comfort at the rear not in terms of leg space but in terms of the seat bolstering and all. Leg space is a wee better than the Kizashi but the boot space is significantly more than even the Superb’s at 530 liters.
The Skoda Superb wins with its feature laden interiors plus attention to detail and comfort factor. The Kizashi comes in second with the Laura at the last.
Handling and ride quality
Maruti Kizashi : The Maruti Kizashi has got Macpherson struts in the front and multilink rear suspension. The Maruti Kizashi in India is softly sprung and gives handling more precedence rather than ride quality. The body roll is well in control and the Kizashi doesn’t induce motion sickness when going around a corner. The steering wheel however is the dampening package here with a somewhat numb feeling when going around fast corners. The sportiness of the package is also very evident when the Kizashi goes over bumps. At low speeds, some of the road surface irregularities are transmitted to the cabin but up the speed and those vanish. It would also be one of the first Japanese sedans to not bottom out even when fully loaded. The NVH is a bit on the lower side but rising rpm levels do bring in a sporty note into the cabin.
Skoda Laura : The Skoda Laura in India employs Macphersons with torsion stabilizers, lower triangular links at the front whereas the rear gets multi axle with three transverse links. First the steering wheel is spot on and delivers very good feedback. The handling is also great with the Laura displaying a steady poise around corners and more than eager to change tracks. There is noticeably more body roll than the Kizashi but it is never too intrusive. This car is more on the stiffly sprung side however the ride quality doesn’t suffer to a great extent. It is firm but not too much by a good degree. NVH is also acceptable for a vehicle of this class.
Skoda Superb : We don’t expect a big luxury car to go fast around corners or do we? If your thinking matches the first one, then better stop reading this article since this is only for believers. And the Skoda Superb in India would make a believer out of you. That’s true. It has for the same steering wheel from the Laura albeit with tweaked steering ratios. Though a bit heavy initially, it lightens up sufficiently afterwards. But then body roll is more pronounced and one has to coax this sedan to turn in fast into corners. But then talk about the ride quality and the big Skoda does what it is meant for. It gives away no hint of what is happening underneath the surface and moreover, NVH levels are impressive enough.
The Skoda Laura for providing the right mix of everything followed by the Kizashi and then the Superb.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Maruti Kizashi : The Maruti Kizashi in India gets only a single engine option. It is the 2.4 liter DOHC producing 178 Ps @ 6500 rpm with torque figures of 230 Nm coming in at 4000 rpm. It is mated with a 6 speed manual or a CVT. Both the transmissions do their bit very well but sometimes the manual does tend to baulk. A little fine tuning would do wonders here. The CVT has that typical rubber band effect to it where the engine screams to the red line and there is nothing happening on the progress front. The engine however is the strong point here and is always ready at your beck and call. Brakes are also very good and stop the Kizashi within desired limits. Safety is handled by 6 air bags, ESP and ABS. We would have liked rear parking sensors as well. Fuel efficiency is an ARAI claimed 12.45 kmpl.
Skoda Laura : The Skoda Laura in India boasts of having 3 engine options. 2 diesel and one petrol. The petrol motor was the one we tested and it is a potent 1.8 liter TSI motor. It gets a 6 speed manual transmission for company here and boy does it race. This is one maniacal engine which provides neck snapping acceleration. The engine makes 162 Ps of peak power whereas the torque figure reads as 250 Nm. For a Skoda, braking and safety aren’t issues as these are always top notch. The Laura however comes with only two air bags, ESP, traction control and ABS to the party. Its ARAI certified fuel economy reads as 13.37 kmpl.
Skoda Superb : The Skoda Superb in India also gets 3 engine options. The same engine in the Laura does duties in the Superb as well. But here, there is a DSG clutch assisting the gear shifting chores. Acceleration figures are just below those of the Maruti Kizashi. The engine doesn’t feel strangled by the extra weight of the Superb sedan. The power and torque figures are the same as in the Laura. Rear parking sensors along with 8 air bags, ABS, EBD, stability control, seat belts with pretensioners and a collapsible steering wheel complete the safety package. The ARAI certified fuel efficiency figure reads as 13.67, higher than even the Laura. The brilliance of German engineering.
This round goes to the Skoda Superb for giving driving pleasure as also safety and smiles at the fuel pump.
The Skoda Superb in India is a better bet in this comparo simply because it exceeds its expectations and ones that people would know it for. Seeing such a big car, anyone would think of luxury at its best and with a pampered rear seat. The Skoda stands true to these things. However don’t be fooled by its stately interiors and the comfort. Given the beans, the Superb can lift its skirt and move along like a scalded cat. It is also very fuel efficient which is belying its size. This comparo wasn’t actually about three cars fighting it out for the top spot. Hell, they even aren’t from the same segment. This comparo was to check in which segment does the Maruti Kizashi in India stand. It truly has created a new segment here. It is as big as the Superb with near agility of the Laura. What it lacks is a diesel engine option. Globally, Suzuki doesn’t offer a diesel engine for the Kizashi and it would be hard to shoehorn one into the Kizashi just for the Indian market. What should decide the clincher for anyone would be the price and here, the Skoda Laura price in India is the lowest at Rs 13.65 lakhs with the Maruti Kizashi price in India taking the middle route of Rs 17.12 lakhs for the manual variant. The Skoda Superb price in India is just marginally larger than that of the Kizashi at Rs 20.48 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. At this price point, it would be the Superb taking top honors and one which we would truly recommend for anyone looking at the Kizashi. Well, for the title of this article, yes the Kizashi does pose as a competition especially given the sales and service front where Maruti are on tops. However for real world luxury, in this comparo, nothing beats the Skoda Superb.