The hatchback market has warmed up again as the 3rd generation Hyundai Grand i10 Nios has driven in. With it the Korean brand expands its hatch offerings to four models. "Nios" has been added to its name this time, because the previous Grand i10 will continue to sell alongside it (as the first i10 had when Grand was added to the 2nd one!). So good prices, great features, and we have already reviewed the car and told you all that you need to know about it. So now we need to figure out, if it has the goods the take on it's key rivals. So we have got the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Ford Figo since these are the immediate key rivals.
You could argue that the new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, Tata Tiago and the ageing Nissan Micra could also have been in this contest. But they are now rivals to the older Grand i10 in my book. Now a quick disclaimer before we get into this shootout. Maruti Suzuki says that it's Swift actually sits a notch higher than the Grand i10 Nios. Now in the past we have always compared the Grand i10 to the Swift. I certainly don't think so, which is why I have it here with me today.
The new Grand i10 Nios is a formidable product in that it takes the already high benchmarks set by its predecessor to a new level. But since that car came many others have followed too. The 4th generation Maruti Suzuki Swift - 3rd for India - arrived at the 2018 Auto Expo. The car has impressed with its build quality, sporty dynamic and overall appeal. Plus the higher variants offered a lot of equipment. Just like on the Grand i10 Nios, dual airbags and ABS are standard too. Inexplicably though Maruti hasn't given us a contrast roof option. The Grand i10 Nios does have that on some colours. The Ford Figo has been around since 2015, but it got its significant facelift this year. It gets a decent equipment list and has very comfortable seating. The sense of space on this car is ample, and it has a high riding, comfortable stance for passengers.
Styling wise the three cars are distinct enough, and yet there's a sort of similarity in them in terms of size for sure, they look evenly matched. Interestingly enough the Grand i10 Nios and the Swift have the identical, same wheelbase (2450mm) but we are not talking about the dimensions. In terms of looks the Figo certainly looks robust and little bit more rugged or tough. It also tends to look larger than the other two.
The Grand i10 Nios is certainly the most modern, and contemporary looking car and that's because it is the newest. The car has DRLs (daytime running lights) almost as standard with 3 of the 4 variants getting them. That is nice, because it becomes a signature of the car. It's something I believe the Swift lost out on. It's just the ZXi+ or the ZDi+ that get the DRLs and nice layered black and chrome headlamp cluster. All other variants get a plain looking headlamp that looks like a carryover from the previous gen.
But people still like the way it looks and it still recognisably looks a Swift. The Figo does not have DRLs or a contrast roof, but does get automatic headlamps - which the other two do not. It also gets rain sensing wipers, and an electric boot release that the others do not. All three cars get 14" wheels at the lower end and 15 inchers at the high end.
All three cars also currently offer petrol and diesel engine options. The Figo has an automatic on the petrol, while the other two cars offer AMTs on both fuel types. I say currently because that will change on the Swift. Now it was Maruti who first brought the AMTs to this segment and that was a great business decision of course - since in terms of volume, it has done pretty well. In terms of performance though, of course the AMT takes away some of the nice sporty character the Swift is known for. Now the petrol BS6 model is already on sale and so the car is BS6 compliant because remember that the diesel won't be making that journey across April 1 2020. And in these 3 cars that we have today, I have to say the Swift has the weakest ride quality and handling. Surprising, given the sporty nature of the Swift.
|Specifications: Petrol||Hyundai Grand i10 Nios||Maruti Suzuki Swift||Ford Figo|
|Displacement||1197 cc||1197 cc||1196/1499 cc|
|Max Power||82bhp @ 6000 rpm||74 bhp @ 6000 rpm||87 bhp @ 6300 rpm/110 bhp @ 6300 rpm|
|Peak Torque||114 Nm @ 4000 rpm||113 Nm @ 4200 rpm||112 Nm @ 4000 rpm/136 Nm @ 4250 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed MT/AMT||5-speed MT/AMT||5-speed MT/6-speed DCT|
The Swift is not the only BS6 petrol here, the Grand i10 Nios has also already made that transition, while the diesel will do so by early 2020. The same is true for both fuel types on the Figo, since Ford has said it will stick with diesels even in the BS6 regime.
|Specifications: Diesel||Hyundai Grand i10 Nios||Maruti Suzuki Swift||Ford Figo|
|Displacement||1186 cc||1248 cc||1498 cc|
|Max Power||74 bhp @ 4000 rpm||74 bhp @ 4000 rpm||99 bhp @ 3750 rpm|
|Peak Torque||190 Nm @ 1750-2250 rpm||190 Nm @ 2000 rpm||215 Nm @ 1750-3000 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed MT/AMT||5-speed MT/AMT||5-speed MT|
The current diesels though are all ample enough. The Figo though does have the most powerful motor. Its got the grunt but isn't as punchy as you'd expect. Its gear ratios and overall transmission feel on the diesel though is very very nice. You definitely get a good sense of space in its cabin but the chief USP remains its ride quality. It is absolutely great, especially for Indian road conditions and really holds itself against its rivals in this department.
Steering and handling is also really good, in fact these are some of the qualities of the Figo that I remember appreciating on the car when it first arrived. Its too bad that it has kind of become long in the tooth now and doesn't quite hold out to the competition when it comes to other departments. The Figo is now appearing a bit dated. And that's too bad because it does have a great chassis and is a good-looking car overall too - more so post that facelift that happened earlier this year.
For years Hyundai's typical modus operandi has been to throw in lots of equipment and features and really impress the buyer. Performance wasn't always the hottest! But that's starting to change, we have seen that with recent introductions. and I have been saying regularly. But it really comes down to this kind of segment where the constraint and the challenges are the greatest.
And oh boy has Hyundai got it right! Ride quality is excellent, it's got a precise steering wheel in comparison to the previous car, and handling's pretty decent too. Just the overall performance feel on this car is fun. I do have the manual with me and so some of that gets dulled on the AMT. I think Hyundai missed a beat here by not offering better automatics instead of going the AMT route Sure its more economical but a sophisticated gearbox could have really showed up the Swift and Figo, by stamping the Nios as the most modern and technologically advanced one.
Another miss on the Nios is the lack of a top spec option with 6 airbags. The Figo has that in the Titanium Blu variant that's with me today. But all cars do at least get the dual airbags and ABS as standard, so that's something. And all of them do meet the required crash legislation too.
The Ford Figo gets a nice touchscreen infotainment system but misses out on features like Apple Carplay and Android auto
The three cars tick a number of boxes for interior equipment. The Figo has a nice touchscreen with navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. It misses out on Sync and Apple CarPlay or android auto that its sedan alter ego - the Aspire and crossover avatar - the Freestyle do have. Yet it is offered on two of three variants. Maruti Suzuki has the new SmartPlay studio infotainment now in the Swift too. But its only on the ZXI or ZDI plus variants like those DRLs. The car with me today is a ZXI AMT and so no touchscreen at all. I think the ZXI/ZDI at the very least should get all this.
The Maruti Suzuki Swift gets the Smartplay Studio now but it's only available in the ZXi+/ZDi+ trims
The Grand i10 Nios has the most appealing cabin. Light greys, patterned plastics on the dash and door trim; and a really smart and upmarket upholstery on the seats. It also has AC vents at the rear on 3 of the 4 variants, and a digital instrument cluster on the top 2. The top spec also offers wireless phone charging. All three cars have a start stop button and remote key hobs with keyless entry. The top spec on all cars have a reverse camera while rear parking sensors are standard.
The Grand i10 NIOS gets two USB charger ports along with wireless charging as well
Now a look at the prices and things remain reasonably evenly matched. The expectation was that the Grand i10 Nios would be a bit pricey since the company has decided to keep the older Grand i10 in the market. But prices on the car have surprised to some extent.
|Hyundai Grand i10 Nios||Maruti Suzuki Swift||Ford Figo|
|Petrol||₹ 4.99 - ₹ 6.68 lakh||₹ 5.14 - ₹ 7.97 lakh||₹ 5.23- ₹ 7.70 lakh|
|Diesel||₹ 6.70 - ₹ 7.99 lakh||₹ 7.03 - ₹ 8.89 lakh||₹ 6.13 - ₹ 7.55 lakh|
The Figo remains good value for money, and given its space, driveability and attributes it comes in as our firm number two in this contest. So which car wins then? Over the last few years the Swift has lost some of it's cult status, even some volume to it's own sister - the Baleno. So it's no longer Maruti's 'premium hatchback' despite what Maruti may say. So when the new generation came there was a lot of expectation riding on it. And the car falls short just a little bit, and it could have done a little more. So maybe with the impending facelift we might get that bit extra from the Swift. Right now though, there's no doubt about it. In terms of equipment level, value (pricing and cost of maintenance), also the fact that it will continue to have a diesel into the BS6 era, with automatic being offered on both - the Grand i10 Nios is without a doubt the absolute winner here.