Rhythm of the Music is Life's only Motivation

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The car had a loyal fan following that had fallen for the car's jellybean design. But with the entry of more players and choice in the compact car segment widening, the Zen's design did seem less attractive, though it still had the trusted, peppy and rev-happy engine that was a delight to drive for the enthusiast and the novice alike. The experience of the engine is mind blowing.

The Zen should win the top honours in TNS' Total Customer Satisfaction Study 2006 under the premium compact segment, ahead of the Hyundai Santro and the Tata Indica, no doubt made Maruti sit up. The company also divined the Zen's undiminished image amongst the young and the old, as also among the performance and the style conscious alike.

The Zen brand is quintessentially Japanese and with its strong recall, Maruti-Suzuki was not going to let it die. So, after a breather, the Zen is back adorning the panels of a completely new premium compact car. Here's the new Zen Estilo, the all-new small car from Suzuki with a refreshed, but recognisable brand name.

Spanish twist
The Zen Estilo (with a lowered emphasis on the `t', Spanish style) is, even as the name seems to suggest, an amalgam of Japanese simplicity and European chic. Put together to conform to the standards of a `monoform' design, the car is for the most part a carry forward of the original Suzuki MR Wagon, the Japanese parent's popular small car.

Now the fact that everyone everywhere is talking about how The MR Wagon was introduced in 2000-01 and sold only in Japan for about four years, before it was withdrawn last year. The car is about a generation old by definition, but barely looks the age. After some quick redesigning and re-engineering to partially change the looks at the front and the rear and for integrating the relatively bigger 1.1-litre Wagon-R engine (the Japanese version was offered with a 660cc engine), Maruti managed to roll out the car from within about 18 months.

The Zen Estilo shares its platform with the Alto and the Wagon-R. Maruti has shrewdly commonalised a number of parts of the Wagon-R for the new Zen, enabling a good cut in costs. One key part that is also shared is the powertrain.
The same 1,061cc, four-cylinder engine and five-speed gearbox combo that power the Wagon-R have been strapped on to the new Zen. The engine's characteristics are identical, putting out a peak power of 64bhp at 6,200 rpm and maximum torque of 84Nm at 3,500 rpm.

The new Zen Estilo's monoform design concept has quite a fan following. This is not the first car with the monoform exterior design, nor is it restricted to the small-car segment.
The Daewoo Matiz was a classic example of the monoform design, as is the Mercedes Benz A-class hatch.
Also, the Toyota Innova and the Honda Civic conform loosely to the monoform definition.
As the name seems to suggest, a car that features a monoform design has a single line defining its form. Starting from the front bumper, the design line (more evident from the side) swoops all the way to the rear bumper in one, uninterrupted sinuous stroke.
This would mean that the regular classic sedan mould or the simple two-box mould will not conform to this standard as the design line for these style of vehicles will be interrupted at the windscreen and the boot area.
This also obviously means that the monoform design will, to a large extent, require a cab-forward style basic structure.
Inherently, the monoform design enables carmakers push out the two axles to the extremes, thereby dramatically reducing the overhang and maximising the wheelbase, which in turn improves cabin space. Cars sporting a monoform design also carry-off bright body colours very well.



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