Hatchbacks have always had a special place in the hearts of Indian buyers owing to the simplicity of owning them. Almost every Indian to have had a car in their family, remember driving a Maruti 800 or Zen back in the day. Smaller cars have somehow shaped considerable parts of our psyche and how we’ve grown to look at cars. So, here we are giving a car comparison of Suzuki Swift and Grand i10 Nios.
What’s your favourite car?
The year 2000 saw the first flood of small cars in the Indian market, which changed the hatchback game forever. For the first time, the Maruti 800 and Zen had some serious competition from the likes of the Santro, the Indica and the Matiz.
Twenty years later, both the 800 and Zen are well out of production, but the competition between hatchbacks grows even fiercer. The two hottest contenders for the favourite hatch title are both upgrades of successful models that have built a reputation among the Indian buyers and are striving to get better than ever. When compared, the new Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Grand i10 Nios engage in a fierce battle of styling, user experience, drive quality, performance and efficiency, all in order to prove themselves the ideal hatchback of choice.
Design and Styling
From the very first glance, the Swift steals away attention owing to its very sporty “hot-hatch” styling. The fresh split-grille front, swept-back projector headlights with border defining DRLs that look absolutely dope when lit, and the broad, hunkered shoulders that go all the way back to perfectly shaped LED taillights and rather a sporty rear, all make the swift stand apart from all its competitors.
Though the Nios isn’t bad looking either, it simply does not compare to Swift’s exciting proportions. The Nios has more of a wider audience appeal, with sharp character lines on either side, large windows and fluid surface transitions. The front grille is adorned by identical “boomerang” shaped DRLs on either side. To be honest, the whole facelift gimmick that Hyundai has tried to pull off with the Grand i10 is a little underwhelming.
The new Swift, on the other hand, is a brilliant design upgrade, following the company’s latest design philosophy and providing a completely new and fresh identity to the hottest hatch that the country has known for over a decade.
On the inside, the Nios gets a number of attractive qualities such as an elevated driving position with clear visibility all around, and light coloured upholstery that adds to the airy appeal. However, despite being well-shaped and contoured, the seats on the Nios aren’t anywhere as supportive as those on the Swift. Dropping the seat height on the Nios causes it to start tilting backwards, which is a big turnoff on the driver’s comfort level. The headrests on the Korean hatch aren’t adjustable either but are still acceptable for most drivers.
The rear is also quite comfortable with a firm and supportive seat base, smaller integrated headrests that allow for a little extra view of the outside, and a very tiny – almost negligible amount of extra legroom. In addition, there are rear aircon vents, charging port for the rear passenger and bottle holders for all four doors. But come on, is that all there is to be a good car with hatchbacks nowadays? We beg to differ.
The Swift has better cushioning and far more supportive seats both in the back and the lumbar areas. The seats on this one can be lowered to a very sporty driving height without compromising on the drive quality. The angle of the touchscreen unit at the centre of the car is brilliantly designed such that visual focus and access to its controls comes delightfully easy to the driver. The Swift also gets a flat-bottom steering-wheel to further add to the sportscar experience that the hot-hatch provides. Even with the technology loaded gimmicks and features being provided by automobile manufacturers, some of these basic visual and functional upgrades such as the steering and ergonomics, go a long way in defining the credibility of a car from the user’s point of view.
The rear end of the Swift isn’t the ideal place for tall passengers. However, the all-black feel will surely appeal to the young and energetic alike.
The Nios, on the other hand, relies on features such as wireless charging and good-looking buttons on the central touchscreen unit, to score brownie points on user experience. It is not happening, though.
The Swift has a slightly larger boot space to offer, which is eight litres more than the Nios, and its 60:40 split rear seats further add to the rear storage capacity, making it more practical than the latter.
Most would expect this area to be the crux of the Nios’ overall performance and capabilities, and we’d love nothing more than to disappoint them. Even in pickup and performance, the Swift pulls away faster and more confidently than the Nios, owing to the K12 petrol motor under its bonnet. Even with the efficiency-centric tall gearing that the company has provided the Swift with, it is peppy and full of energy to drive.
The steering is quick and responsive, and the gearshifts are very crisp, which is a blessing in the stricken traffic suburbs of the average Indian city. The engine shows impressive flexibility in its rev-range and helps keep gearshifts to a minimum.
The Nios, on the other hand, has little or no feedback from the steering wheel, which nullifies the whole point of it being well balanced. Gearshifts aren’t as smooth and quick as the Swift, and the throws are longer.
The 1.2 Kappa engine from Hyundai does pretty well in the low to mid throttle range and doesn’t give any trouble in the city. However, when you push it to its limits and try to tap into it for some extra power to feed your hunger for performance, the Nios falls short on delivery and quite a few paces behind the Swift.
The Nios has softer suspension, which means it can consume the small bumps and irregularities without much trouble to the passengers. However, the bigger jerks will send discomfort into the cabin and sometimes cause the underside to collide or scrape with the tarmac if one tends to cross them a little too quickly. The Swift’s stiffer suspension handles the bigger bumps much better, and underbody contact with the road has fewer chances of occurring when compared with the Nios.
The Swift is doubtless, the better, stronger and faster contender of the two. It offers a much better package of user experience, drive quality, handling and power delivery when compared to the Nios. Though it is priced slightly higher than its Korean competitor, it is in every way a better performer than the latter and fully justifies the slight difference in their cost, by a significant margin.