Indian auto market is driven by small cars and although recent year have witnessed a steep rise in luxury sedan and SUV segments, every big brand in the market is compelled to launch a small car to drive its sales volume.
Maruti Suzuki is the market leader in India, and the Swift hatch has been winning hearts since its was launched back in 2005. The European designed hatch happens to be our favorite small car with its sporty yet bold appeal, and competitive price tag. However, the Korean automaker, Hyundai showed it won’t down without a match and launched 12 variants of the 2012 i20 hatch.
Featuring the Korean automaker’s ‘Fluidic sculpture’ design theme, the Hyundai i20 hatch gives an option from the clever 1.2-litre Kappa petrol engine and 1.4-litre CRDe diesel motor. On the other hand, the market leader, Maruti does not gamble with a competitive price tag alone for its new Swift, and packs the hatch with premium class features.
Belonging to small car segment, the two hatchbacks feature compact design without compromising on interior space. Maruti has featured the Swift with bold sporty design, which is visible on its oversized, sweptback headlamps and wide body kits. It is a certain head-turner with the elegant design and robust built. The front grille just fuses with the headlamps and bumper contours, and the curvaceous body makes the Swift look as if its driven out of a Rally.
The rear section of the Maruti Swift features stylish LED taillights that look just perfect for the sporty persona. On its styling quotient, the Swift features body colored RVM, door handles, front & rear bumpers and a chrome finished Suzuki badge on the front that reflects the trust in the brand.
Speaking of the rally-look of the Swift, the hatch features distinctive floating roofline design coupled with sporty wheel arches. It sits on 15-inch alloys and low-profile tyres with restyled wheel cap that gives the Swift a much defined look.
Hyundai on the other hand, aims a notch higher and features its marvelous ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design theme on the new i-Gen i20 hatchback. Budding in terms of appearance from its predecessor, there are significant exterior updates on the 2012 i20. The Korean hatch is one of the most practical and sensible hatch available in the market.
Upfront, there is the high gloss radiator grille, diamond shaped multi-reflector fog lamps that are built in the lower section of the bumper and more sleek and aggressive headlamps. The front bumper chin is wider, while the rear spoilers feature integrated stop lamps. Similar to the Swift, the Korean hatch also features body color door handles and turn indicators integrated in the RVM.
Developing over the forerunner, the new Hyundai i20 sports restyled eight split-fork alloy wheels giving the hatch a much sportier look. As we said that the car is super practical when it comes to design, the front mounted headlamps near the grille improve the driver’s vision for a better night driving. The sunroof option and body hugging tail lamps also add to the luxury quotient of the car.
In numbers, both the hatchbacks come as 5 seaters; however, the i20 is slightly longer than the Maruti Swift, giving the Korean hatch better room for luggage. There is no comparison between the two when it comes to legroom or headroom in the rear seats.
The 2012 Maruti Suzuki Swift features premium hatch features with top-notch quality and class-leading interiors. There is a subtle appearance of the interior, although the hatch features great quality and sensibility. While the interior is roomy and ambient, there isn’t much to offer on the boot section. Its sporty appeal follows inside the car with bold color upholstery seen in the Sport black color scheme.
Featuring European design, the Swift is driver-centric with spherical gearshift knobs, 3-spoke steering wheel, digital display trip meter and anti-glare inside RVM.
Completing the stylish and luxurious premium interior of the new Swift are larger body-hugging front seats, sporty multi-layered dash board with a waterfall console, enhanced chrome usage on Ac vent knobs & door handles for premium feel, integrated storage spaces in dashboard with retractable cup holder, multi-information LCD display.
Speaking of practicality, the car features tilting power steering that can be adjusted accordingly to the height of driver. As a part of the 2012 mode, the Swift features automatic climate control, restyled instrument console, and steering mounted audio controls.
Passengers also have a lot of fun at the rear with individual AC vents, audio system integrated with six speakers that also supports USB and power windows. The ride is more joyful with more refined engine and hydraulic engine mounts that give improved NVH levels. This makes miles of journey feel like a trip round the neighborhood.
Though the new Hyundai i20 has significantly updated on the exteriors, the interior remains pretty much the same – classy. The spacious interiors, 2 tone beige and black dashboard, metal finished centre fascia and sunroof gives the premium class cars, a run for their money. The cool blue LED illumination in the interior of the car further adds to the ambient environment. It is a super practical hatch with quality interiors.
With the i-Gen i20, Hyundai has carved an entirely new segment of hatchbacks. It has elegant interior with split seats and spacious boot, unlike the Swift. There are certain features similar on the Korean hatch, like the Automatic Climate control, Steering mounted audio control, USB compatible audio system with 4 speakers and tilting steering, but the i20 hatch takes the prize when it comes to the more high-tech features. It boast the new Rear Parking Camera with display in the cabin and Supervision Cluster, Clean Air-Cluster ionizer. Some more exciting features include the smart key push button start, Multi Information Display, 60:40 Split Seats with cushion pop-ups, 2-DIN CD/MP3 Audio System and Bluetooth connectivity along with Bluetooth controls.
Adding appeal to the i20 classy persona is the theatre dimming Central room lamp. There is also so much of storage availability in the car, you might end up losing something. There is the centre console multipurpose storage box, front door map pockets, passenger side seat back pocket, coat hook, Luggage hooks and glove box. In terms of fabrication, the i20 features Cloth Seat Upholstery and chrome and leather finished gearshift knob.
Both the cars are neck in neck at the performance end. They both have petrol and diesel engines to offer from. However, there are certain factors that cannot be ignored when it comes to handling and comfort.
Under the hood of the Maruti Swift is the brilliant 1.2-litre, K series engine. This fuel-economic and powerful engine sports the lightweight DOHC that helps in reducing friction and improving engine life. Maruti claims the engine conforms to the Bharat Stage IV emission norms. The company has also refined the engine output giving reduced noise levels and improved drivability.
In figures, the powerful K series petrol is good for 87 PS at 6000 rpm and 114 Nm torque at 4000 rpm. The Maruti Suzuki Swift features the Detent -pin technology in transmission that ensures smoother gearshifts. It can do a dead to 100 kmph in under 12.6 seconds and reach speeds up to 160 kmph. Speaking of fuel-economy, the K series powered Swift has a rated fuel economy of 14.4 kmpl in city and 18.6 kmpl on highway.
For the diesel variant, Maruti offers a 1.3-litre, DDiS engine which is torquey in comparison to the petrol motor. There is reduced lag in the turbo with the addition of a new intercooler and the torque output is peakier. The 16 valve DOHC engine has a power output of 75 PS at 4000 rpm and a torque figure of 190 Nm at 2000 rpm. Moreover, Maruti promises improved fuel-economy figures at 23.8 kmpl on highway and 21.2 kmpl in city. Its 0-100 kmph is rated at 14.2 seconds with a top speed of 152 kmph.
Hyundai has three options from driveline that includes petrol manual, diesel manual and petrol automatic. For the petrol option, there is a 1.2-litre Kappa engine with VTVT (Variable Timing Valve Train) technology. This petrol motor can deliver as much as 84 PS peak power at 5200 rpm together with max torque of 11.4 kgm at 4000 rpm. In terms of fuel-economy, the i20 has a rated 18.5 kmpl on highway and 15.2 kmpl in city. Mated to this motor is a 5-speed manual gearbox.
For the automatic petrol i20, the power output stands at 100 PS at 5500 rpm together with torque of 13.9 kg-m at 4200 rpm. Mated to this petrol motor is a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the 6 drive modes, variable line pressure system in engine and overdrive lock mechanism improves the engine life. Though automatic cars are notorious for their horrific fuel-economy figures, the smart Kappa engine of the i20 delivers 11.8 kmpl in city and 14.9 kmpl on highways.
Speaking of the diesel trim, the 2012 Hyundai i20 comes with a much-refined 1.4-litre CRDi diesel motor that is good for a 90 PS power output at 4000 rpm and a 22.4 kg-m at 1750-2750 rpm peak torque. However, the superior power comes at the cost of mileage and the i20 diesel delivers 17 kmpl fuel-economy in city and 22 kmpl on highways. The glorious Kappa is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox that makes it almost a hot hatch.
For a signal light drag race, you might want to go for the diesel variant that gives a 0-100 kmph of 13.2 seconds. Push further and it can do speeds up to 166 kmph. The petrol automatic on the other hand does the same at 15.4 seconds, while the manual version takes 15.2 seconds. However, there is a major difference when it comes to top speed of the two variants, as the automatic reaches 170 kmph and the manual version tops at 154 kmph.
Handling and Safety:
Maruti has employed good braking system to bring to halt all the horsepower. While the front brakes include ventilated discs, drum brakes go up the rear. Since the Swift is not a very powerful car, employing discs for rear was pointless. However, Maruti has not compromised in terms of safety and offers ABS in the higher end models.
There is no significant update on the suspension end with the McPherson struts with coil spring underpinning the front and torsion beam taking up the rear. The ride is a bit bumpy with the frame type front suspension, but the stiff chassis does not let you feel the roll. It pulls quite a degree on stretches and is very forgiving on corners.
For the Hyundai i-Gen i20, there is a cluster of high-tech safety systems working orchestra to deliver superb handling and safety. The Korean automaker gives a piece of mind while driving, sporting the car with several active and passive safety features. There is no compromise on safety end and front disc come as standard in all variants. Moreover, there is option of rear disc in the 1.4-litre engine, while drums continue to serve at rear in the less powerful 1.2-litre version.
The front suspension of i20 features McPherson struts with Gas shock absorber and the rear sports torsion beam axle with gas shock absorber. It is not an ordinary shock absorber, the Korean automaker has featured telescopic dual acting gas shock ups. With a large wheelbase, the car is good on bumps but is not the ultimate cornering machine.
In terms of safety, the i20 is the safest car in the segment. It hosts several active and passive safety system to give a safe ride and less impact on collisions. This includes ABS, EBD, 6 Airbags including Driver Airbag, Side & curtain Airbag, clutch lock system, smart pedal system, speed sensing auto door locking and impact sensing auto door unlocking and Reverse Parking Sensors.
Other safety equipments include Seatbelt pretensioners, Low fuel warning Lamps, Door & tailgate Ajar warning lamps, Driver seat belt warning- Lamp and Seat belt warning. The day & night inside rear view mirror, RHD Control, Rear Fog, Central Locking, Impact Sensing auto door unlock, Ignition key reminder, engine immobilizer, keyless entry with burglar alarm and folding key, Child Safety and that’s it.
Both the cars have great style and groundbreaking performance. While the i-Gen i20 is packed with features, the Swift comes with the Maruti quality and life. The i20 has a bigger boot and the Swift has more practical interior.
Out on the roads, the machines are simply superb and ideal for city drives. There is the age-old compromise between power and fuel-economy, and the choice is yours.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
- LXi Petrol manual – Rs 502,000
- VXi Petrol manual – Rs 547,000
- ZXi Petrol manual – Rs 645,000
- LDi Diesel manual – Rs 598,000
- VDi Diesel manual – Rs 648,000
- ZDi Diesel manual – Rs 738,000
Hyundai i-Gen i20
- Era 1.2 Petrol manual – Rs 481,000
- Magna 1.2 Petrol manual – Rs 523,000
- Sportz 1.2 Petrol manual – Rs 568,000
- Asta 1.2 Petrol manual – Rs 612,000
- Asta 1.4 Gamma Petrol automatic – Rs 796,000
- Asta 1.2 Sunroof Petrol manual – Rs 659,000
- Era 1.4 Diesel manual – Rs 597,000
- Magna 1.4 Diesel manual – Rs 639,000
- Sportz 1.4 Diesel manual – Rs 685,000
- Asta 1.4 Diesel manual – Rs 729,000