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2020 Suzuki Dzire 1.2 GL+: Subcompact Premium Sedan

My very first job was selling brand-new cars in 1989. Back then, features like power steering, power windows, power side mirrors, and central door locking were only found in expensive luxury cars. In the 1990s, mid-priced sedans began having these power features but only the top-end luxury cars had body-colored bumpers, a premium sound system, and rear aircon vents. In the 2000’s only European sports cars had “manu-matic” or 5- or 6-speed manual transmissions that featured electrohydraulic semi-automatic shifting.

Today, almost all these features, especially those that were once reserved for expensive premium sedans, can be found in the topmost variant of most subcompact and compact vehicles. And one such subcompact sedan that is packed to the gills with all these convenience and comfort power features is the 2020 Suzuki Dzire GL+.

Humble Beginnings

The first-generation Dzire was first introduced in 2008 as a subcompact sedan for the Indian market. The second-generation model bowed in 2012 as a variant of the highly-popular Suzuki Swift subcompact hatchback and was launched in the Philippines in 2013. At first, local pundits referred to the Dzire as the “Swift that grew a trunk”, but it proved to be popular among small families and first-time car owners because of its features and outstanding fuel economy.

First Generation Suzuki Swift Dzire (2008-2012)

Second Generation Suzuki Swift Dzire (2012-2017)

Suzuki evolved the Dzire from being a Swift variant to becoming a separate model when it introduced the third generation in 2017. Our Dzire 1.2 GL+ test car is a third generation model that was launched in the Philippines along with the Swift hatchback in June 2018. And just this month, February 2021, Suzuki Automobiles Philippines gave the Dzire a minor refresh by giving it a new bumper and redesigned front grille with chrome accents, new headlights and tail lamps.

Third Generation Suzuki Dzire (2017-2021)

Third Generation Suzuki Dzire Facelift (2021-)

Sports Bike Connection

Powering the Dzire is a 1.2-liter K12M inline 4-cylinder gasoline engine with 16 valves and multipoint electronic fuel injection that is a miser with fuel. However, if you think that 82 horsepower delivered by this engine at 6,000 rpm is a bit anemic, think again. Mashing the throttle will release 113 Newton-meters of torque at 4,200 rpm, which can smoke the front tires of this 895-kilogram subcompact. This is what you get when you have legendary superbikes like the Suzuki GSX-R1000RR, Katana and Hayabusa as your subcompact’s stable mates.

82-hp Suzuki K12M 1197cc inline 4-cylinder engine

Achieving 12.1 kilometers to a liter is nothing to sneeze at.

The transversely-mounted K12M engine features Direct Action Intake (DAI) and variable valve timing (VVT). It is mated to a 5-speed stick shift in the GA or GL variant, or to a five-speed Auto Gear Shift (AGS) manu-matic transmission like in our GL+. The AGS can be driven with the convenience of an automatic for stop-and-go city traffic, or as a sequential-shift manual for sporty driving. We love shifting the gears ourselves and hearing the engine rev like a sports bike. Despite our shenanigans, we were still able to squeeze 12.1 kilometers per liter.

Auto Gear Shift (AGS) 5-speed manual-automatic transmission

The AGS shifter does not have Park because it’s actually a 5-speed manual transmission with electronic clutch and shifter controls.

Svelte Dimensions   

Front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beams handle suspension duties; ventilated front disc brakes and rear drum brakes provide fade-free stopping power; while 16-spoke alloy wheels shod in 185/65R15 rubber keep the Dzire connected to the road. Suzuki engineers softened the suspension settings to provide more comfort, which resulted in increased body roll. However, its 1,520mm track gives adequate handling and a small 4.8-meter turning radius.

The 16-spoke alloy wheels are wrapped in 185/65R15 tires.

Turning radius is a tight 4.8 meters.

Its svelte dimensions that classifies it as a subcompact also makes it an excellent city car. You can squeeze through tight traffic gaps more confidently and park in tighter spaces. There were instances when we were glad that we were driving the Dzire 1.2 GL+ instead of our 2015 Ciaz 1.4 GLX because we were able to fit into a smaller parking space at our favorite supermarket than we were normally accustomed to.

Parking in tight spaces is never a problem…

This good-lookin’ face will soon change to a racier one.

It Feels Big Inside

Unlike the recently facelifted Dzire with its new set of updated gauges, our GL+ test unit came with two large dial-and-needle affairs for the speedometer and tachometer, with an LCD screen in the middle. The center console of our GL+ houses a large 7-inch infotainment system with navigation while the three-spoke steering wheels feature controls for the infotainment system. Three rotary knobs on the center console allow instinctive control of the aircon system while a 12-volt 120-watt power outlet and a USB socket reside in a console below these knobs.

Spacious ergonomic front cockpit features a 3-spoke steering wheel, 7-inch infotainment system, and easy-to-reach controls.

Two big dials measure speed and engine revs while a large LCD screen in the middle provides needed info.

12V 120W power outlet and USB socket in the front console offers added convenience when connecting or charging mobile devices.

The seats are covered in fabric with an attractive design and a comfortable feel. Front passengers are treated to a pair of ergonomic bucket seats with side bolsters while the rear bench seat can accommodate three adults comfortably and a child seat safely with its ISOFIX anchors. Rear air conditioning vents and a second 12V socket provide additional convenience for rear seat occupants. Despite its short overall length of a little under 4 meters and a wheelbase under 2.5 meters, the interior of the Dzire feels roomy and spacious.

Front seats are ergonomic and generously bolstered…

… while the spacious rear bench features a folding center armrest with built-in drink holders.

Rear aircon vents used to be exclusive to high-end luxury cars.

While the first- and second-generation models looked a lot like a Swift with a trunk grafted into the back, the design of the current generation Dzire looks more integrated and purposeful. While the trunk of our GL+ is admittedly smaller than the trunk of our Ciaz, it can swallow 378 liters of cargo, which means it can fit several boxes of groceries that we usually get during our supply run every two weeks. That, plus its miserly fuel consumption, makes the 2020 Suzuki Dzire GL+ a winner in our view. We’re hoping to drive the 2021 model soon!

Rear trunk can accommodate 378 liters of luggage and stuff.

Because it is now a distinct model, the rear of the Dzire looks more integrated than before.


Vehicle Type: Front-engine, FWD, 4-door subcompact sedan

Price: P708,000.00

Engine: K12M liquid-cooled inline-4 DAI 16V VVT

Displacement: 1197cc

Transmission: 5-speed AGS manual-automatic

Power: 82hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 113Nm @ 4200 rpm

Wheelbase: 2450 mm

Length: 3995 mm

Width: 1735 mm

Height: 1515 mm

Minimum Ground Clearance: 145mm

Minimum Turning Radius: 4.8 m

Curb Weight                           :           1120 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity     :           47 liters

Front Suspension: Independent, McPherson type

Rear Suspension: Independent, Torsion beam

Front Brakes: Ventilated discs

Rear Brakes: Drums, leading and trailing

Steering System: Rack and pinion

Power Assistance: Electric (EPAS)

Tires: Apollo 185/65R15

Best Fuel Mileage: 13.4 km/liter (as tested)

Ave. Fuel Mileage: 12.1 km/liter (recorded)

Contact Details

 Suzuki Philippines, Inc.

126 Progress Avenue, Carmelray Industrial Park 1,

Carmeltown, Canlubang, Calamba City, 4028

Laguna, Philippines

800 Ortigas Avenue, Barangay Ugong, Pasig City, Metro Manila

Tel. No.: (02) 462-5000, (0049) 502-1458, 0917-806-4256