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Maruti Fronx : Our observations after a day of driving

Despite the turbo, the engine doesn't struggle at low revs and the car can keep up with the traffic without the driver having to shift down too often. This trait combined with a small footprint and light controls makes the Fronx very easy to drive around in the city.

Driving the Maruti Fronx 1.0L Turbo-Petrol MT

1.0L turbo-petrol Boosterjet engine makes 99 BHP @ 5,500 rpm and 148 Nm @ 2,000-4,500 rpm:

The Fronx is powered by a 1.0L, 3-cylinder Boosterjet turbo-petrol engine with a Smart Hybrid system. This unit is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and puts out 99 BHP and 148 Nm. These numbers are better than the Tata Punch, but substantially less compared to the segment-leading Citroen C3 (109 BHP & 190 Nm). With a kerb weight of 1,015 kg, the power-to-weight ratio & torque-to-weight ratio are 97 BHP/ton & 146 Nm/ton respectively. These are not the highest in the segment and hence, the Fronx is a brisk performer, but not as fast and exciting as we would expect a turbocharged engine to be.

Start the engine by pressing the super light clutch and pressing the engine start/stop button. The Fronx moves off the line smoothly. Sedate throttle inputs see the Smart Hybrid's ISG motor kick in with an assist before disengaging and letting the engine take over fully. The throttle response is good too. Driving about at city speeds, the car feels smooth. Good driveability is the key here and the Fronx can clear the second gear speed breaker test easily. Despite the turbo, the engine doesn't struggle at low revs and the car can keep up with the traffic without the driver having to shift down too often. This trait combined with a small footprint and light controls makes the Fronx very easy to drive around in the city. The engine starts feeling comfortable after 1,400 rpm. The car is relaxed doing 50 km/h in 4th gear with the engine spinning at 1,600 rpm. Above 2,000 rpm, power surges in a progressive manner.

On the open road, the Fronx is a brisk performer. However, it is not as fast or exciting as some of the other 1.0L turbos that we have experienced. The power delivery is linear in nature. For enthusiasts, the engine doesn't evoke any emotions and appears a rather standard fare. There is decent mid-range delivery to facilitate quick overtaking manoeuvres. The driver will enjoy this mid-range torque and the car should offer good highway driveability. The engine revs freely up to ~6,300 rpm and falls to its conservative 6,000 rpm limit, but most of the grunt is delivered up to 5,000 rpm. At high rpm, that typical 3-cylinder thrum is well controlled, but it’s very much there. In terms of cruiseability, in 5th gear, 100 km/h is seen at 2,500 rpm while 120 km/h is achieved at 3,000 rpm.

The 5-speed manual transmission is slick to operate. The throws are smooth and sure-slotting. The clutch is super light and the travel range is average. As mentioned earlier though, the dead pedal could have been better positioned.

Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)

There is a slight shake of the body as the engine cranks, but other than that, there are no vibrations felt inside the cabin. At idle, you will feel some faint vibrations on the centre armrest though. While driving around calmly, the engine sound doesn't bother the cabin. However, as the revs climb, the engine makes itself heard a lot more in the cabin. While it's a likeable sound for enthusiasts, other occupants are likely to complain as things get boomy at higher revs. 

Wind noise starts creeping into the cabin above 90 km/h and gets louder with speed. Even so, it’s not excessive at 100-120 km/h. Road noise and tyre noise are average.

Mileage & Fuel Economy

As we are already aware, turbo-petrols are sensitive to throttle input and you will be visiting the fuel station more often if you have a heavy foot. But drive sedately and you should see some acceptable FE figures. The Fronx turbo-petrol MT's ARAI-certified fuel efficiency is 21.5 km/l, while the AT's is 20.01 km/l.

The 1.2L naturally aspirated petrol has an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 21.79 km/l for the MT and 22.89 km/l for the AMT.

The turbocharger is placed on the front of the engine and you also have a cold air intake:

The bonnet gets insulation underneath and helps keep the noise levels low:

MT gets a gear shift indicator:

Suspension

Ride Comfort

The Fronx comes with a McPherson strut suspension at the front and a torsion beam suspension with coil springs at the rear. The ride over small potholes and uneven roads at city speed is absorbent. No bumps are transmitted hard into the cabin. Even over bad roads, the suspension does a good job of keeping the car's occupants comfortable. Large potholes do register themselves in the cabin though. Overall the ride quality is very compliant. The suspension works silently too.

The Fronx rides on 16-inch wheels with 195/60 section tyres and the recommended tyre pressure is 29 PSI.

Handling & Dynamics

The Fronx has a good all-rounded suspension setup. It is neither too stiff nor too soft. Straight-line stability is good for a car in this segment and occupants won't even know that the car is cruising at triple-digit speeds. Expansion joints on the highway do not unsettle it.

On long curves, the car holds its line well. Push the car on twisty roads and you will experience some body roll, but it's very well-controlled. The car changes direction without fuss. Our test car came with 195/60 R16 Good Year Assurance tyres, which provided enough grip for the power on tap.

Steering

The Fronx gets an electric power steering, which is very user-friendly. It's light in the city and most owners will appreciate that. The compact dimensions of the car, light steering and a tight turning radius of 4.9 metres make the Fronx very easy to drive in the city. At higher speeds, the steering weighs up well. There's no nervous feeling or twitchiness at all while cruising on the highways. However, on the twisty roads, you will find that it doesn't relay much feedback.

One point to note is that the steering has a stronger return to centre action than some of the Maruti cars we have driven in recent times.

Braking

The Fronx is equipped with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. The performance is as expected and the car comes to a halt without much drama. Under hard braking too, the car doesn't lose its composure.

Niggles & Problems

While we expect the drivetrain to be trouble-free (as is in the case of most Maruti cars), we did have a couple of complaints. A portion of the LED light bar at the rear had stopped working. This was not expected on a car with just ~300 km on the odo.

Next, all the seatbelts have to be buckled in while the car is being driven, even if there is no other person in it other than the driver. If not done, the seatbelt alarm keeps sounding. No, this was not a niggle with our test car. The system has been designed that way and it's incredibly stupid. What if you want to fold the rear seatbacks down to carry more luggage than the boot can hold?

Continue reading the discussion on the Maruti Fronx on our forum.

 
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