Its being too long that we have done a comparison test. The time is just right what with the newer launches making their way into the Indian car market. There has been so much happening in the small car segment with the likes of the Toyota Liva being launched as also the new Swift coming in at almost the same time. This segment would see more warfare what with the likes of the Honda Brio coming in and also the Liva making its diesel engine debut this month. For the time being, its petrol bastion and to keep the things fair, we have included the cars from the different countries with the likes of Japan, Korea, Czech, American, pseudo India and Indian taking over. Here is a comparison between some of the most shopped entry level “premium” hatches.
After the Chevy Beat made its debut, there has been a dearth of interesting designs in the hatch market. The Toyota Liva is the newest design here, even with its sedan derived styling playing in one’s mind. Also, the 2011 Swift would be easily dismissed for the older model here. The Figo also looks way too much like its discontinued cousin, the Fusion. Moreover, Hyundai i10 is the one with a significant design change post its face-lift and also the Tata Vista which looks too close to the Manza now. The Fabia’s facelift is also a blink it and you miss it types. If you must have noticed, almost all the cars here have a sedan derived out of them. The Fluidic Verna looks quite close to the i10, the Liva to the Etios, Swift to the upcoming 2011 Swift Dzire, the Fabia to the upcoming Lauretta and the Tata Vista to the Tata Manza. Its only the Figo which doesn’t have a hatch based on it. The older Fiesta as also the newer ones don’t even look like from the same family.
If only for all those side skirts and sporty elements protruding out from its each pore, it’s the Liva which wins our vote.
Is space is the priority on a shoppers list, they shouldn’t look beyond the Tata Vista or even the Toyota Liva. Both these cars have the maximum space in this comparison. Infact, the Tata one scores with better equipment levels as well. The Liva can easily seat three passengers in the rear seat with reasonable comfort while the Vista would seat them with considerable ease. The new Swift, even though, its bigger and better than the competition, doesn’t offer more space than any of this cars. Infact, even the smaller i10 beats it hollow with the space it offers. The more modern Ford Figo can also seat three but the passengers would be rubbing shoulders quite too often. Of all the cars offered here, the Liva’s dash feels the most simplistic followed by the Vista’s. Both these dashes have a centrally mounted instrument cluster and hence the driver involvement is not too much. However, the Liva with its flat bottomed steering wheel definitely tries to be on the sportier side, though the quality of materials used is anything but good. Infact, the new 2011 Vista has got a much better interior quality. The goodies in the Vista involve the Bluetooth stereo as also the steering mounted controls. The new Swift takes up the Maruti quality levels to an all new high. Many elements seem to be borrowed from the Kizashi and now, there is also a multi information display coming up. The Hyundai i10 also has good quality materials and the same Bluetooth enabled stereo system going for it. Moreover, i10 boasts of good space inspite of its compact dimensions. The Ford Figo has also got the best of all worlds though quality is still doubtful, it is pretty much up with the rest. The features at hand are also quite useful with Bluetooth voice dialing interfaced with the stereo system. The Skoda Fabia can boast of having the best interiors in its class, the German build quality coming to forth. It has also got the most pleasant cabin going for it. As for the boot space, it is the best in Figo followed by the Liva, Fabia, Vista and then the i10.
Ride and Handling
The Skoda Fabia and the Maruti Swift play truant here. Both the cars come with an accommodating chassis and also are very capable. The Fabia has the better ride quality than the new Swift while the latter goes up a notch while going around corners with the Skoda’s steering wheel being not too linear. The Swift’s electrical steering column still works out to be the best here. The i10 has got a heavy steering, which is a surprise considering that most of the Hyundai steering wheels are lighter to use. Also, the i10 does roll around a fair bit. Its ride quality is strictly okay. The Liva has got a light steering feel and the ride quality is very good. However, the handling is not upto the mark and the Liva does feel kind of uncomfortable on the highways. Add to it the fact that the Toyota engineers concentrated more on the ride quality. As for the Tata Vista, Tata engineers have dialed in some feedback in the steering wheel which means that placing the wheels of this car in the exact direction where one wants to take it is for given. Also, the ride quality which is a Tata forte is still very much there and the handling is better than the i10. However, the Ford Figo with its Ford DNA is the best of the lot. It has got a supple ride quality along with the handling to complement it with. The steering wheel is also the most direct unit in this lot.
As far as NVH is concerned, it’s the Tata engine which delivers the most amount of noise followed by the Liva, Fabia, Swift and the i10.
Engine, Performance and Fuel Efficiency
The engines of all these cars are in the 1.2 liter category. The most technologically advanced engines are from Korea and also pseudo India. Since most of the times, the power as also torque figures for these cars has been done to death, it would be a waste to dedicate this section to them and instead, we would be concentrating more on the driveability aspect as also the fuel efficiency which each delivers. On the driveability front, nothing comes close to the new Swift. It has got the best in-gear acceleration amongst the lot and now, the top speed has also increased a bit. In this regard, the smaller i10 with its big engine is also a good thing. While the gear changes in the new Swift have improved by a big margin over the older one, the new i10 also makes do with a better gear shifting mechanism. The dashboard mounted gear lever means that owners would be at ease shifting gears without fouling with the arm rest. The Skoda Fabia has got an engine which sometimes struggles to take off coupled with the body weight that the car carries. The gear shift is as slick as the one in the i10. The performance borders on just enough to not good, depending on the number of people in the car at that time. As for the Vista, its engine is also not much better than the Fabia in terms of the acceleration, however in-gear acceleration is where the company has concentrated on and makes do with this. The gearshift, though not in the league of the i10, definitely has improved over the previous versions and now slots in really well. As for the Liva, the reduced engine block means that this hatchback has not got much going for it. The gear shift is smooth, however, the engine lags somewhere and is more of a sedate performer than rip roaring. The Figo’s engine definitely seems underpowered with a full complement of passengers. Infact, it feels all the more underpowered in face of competition. The gearshift action is smooth and so is the clutch. However, with engine isn’t perfectly in sync with the gearbox and the car struggles to climb up inclines.
Brake feel is the best in the Fabia followed by Swift, i10, Vista and the Liva. All the cars come with twin airbags and ABS.
For the fuel efficiency ranks, it is the Hyundai i10 with its 20.3 kmpl, followed by the Maruti Swift at 18.3 kmpl, Toyota Liva at 18.13 kmpl, Ford Figo with 15.6 kmpl, Skoda Fabia with 15.6 kmpl and the Tata Vista with 14.2 kmpl.
As for the prices, we have considered the top end versions of these cars and hence cheapest top end petrol version of the Tata Vista rates in at Rs 5.10 lakhs with the Figo Titanium coming in at Rs 5.16 lakhs, Hyundai i10 Asta at Rs 5.74 lakhs, Maruti Swift ZXI at Rs 6.10 lakhs, Skoda Fabia Elegance at Rs 6.44 lakhs and the Toyota Liva at Rs 6.76 lakhs. All these prices are on-road for Mumbai and may vary according to regions.