With the Toyota Liva in India just beginning its innings, it would be but natural to pit it against its competition. The competition is in the form of hatches which are Japanese conceived, German, Korean as also Indian. With so many options available in the over crowded hatchback segment, it becomes very confusing for the discerning buyer to select a car for himself. We have listed out the pros and cons of Toyota Liva compared to its hatchback competitors. As many as 7 competitors have been considered here. Here is a neutral view (as always) not favoring any car particularly or not even proclaiming a winner out of the 8 cars. Instead, we leave it upto the readers to decide which car they want to be in their driveway or garage.
Main contender : Toyota Liva : The Toyota Liva in India is the newest offering by the Japanese car maker and it is billed as the volume driver for the company. That the Etios has set the pace for it is another thing and that the Liva would fully exploit the situation is for given. It comes with an exterior which wouldn’t offend anyone and at the same time feels similar to its bigger sibling, the Etios. Just like the Etios, the Liva also can be had with side skirts and an added on spoiler. Inside, the story is no different from the Etios with the hatch sharing the same instrumentation and some dashboard plastics. Interior space is the forte of the Liva and its interior space is almost similar to that of the Etios. User friendly controls are present while the top of the line variant is stacked with goodies, though not class leading. Currently the engine in the Liva is a 1.2 one, which is tuned to be more fuel efficient rather than being an outright drag strip racer. The engine produces 79 Bhp of power and 10.6 kgm of torque. A 5 speed transmission handles the transmission duties. Overall fuel efficiency is quoted as 18.3 kmpl, as per ARAI. Ride and handling characteristics are similar to what the Etios has to offer and this means a neutral behavior. EBD, ABS and airbags are present in the top end variant. Price start from Rs 3.99 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Space, fuel efficiency, Toyota badge
Thumbs down : Quality of plastics, no diesel (as of now), lackluster driving dynamics
Tata Indica Vista : It is more than 10 years since the Tata Indica was launched in India, however Tata Motors have kept the public interest alive this hatch by bringing in regular upgrades. The best one was when Tata Motors gave it an all new character and christened it as the Indica Vista. The looks were entirely different than the earlier Indica and so also were the driving dynamics. Inside the cabin, the story is still very different than what the earlier Indica had. Soft touch plastic has been used extensively in the cabin and this adds to the feeling of upmarketness. What hasn’t changed and infact has been improvised on is the space inside the cabin. Comfort levels also have been taken to an all new level with the Vista boasting of a space which even some C segment sedans cannot provide. Equipment levels have also increased with Bluetooth equipped audio system being offered amongst other goodies. The earlier Indica also had a good ride quality and the new one just about adds one more layer to it, making it the most pliant car in its category. Handling also has been improved, however, it is still not a patch on its competition. Tata Motors have launched the Vista initially with 4 engines, however, as of now, speaking of metros, it is available with only 3 engine options. A 1.2 liter petrol motor, a 1.3 liter Fiat derived multijet engine and a 1.4 liter Fiat derived petrol motor. 16.7 is the fuel efficiency quoted for the base petrol while the diesel gives 19.2 kmpl. The 1.4 motor’s fuel efficiency is 15.6 kmpl. All these figures are ARAI quoted. Prices start from Rs 3.87 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Space, Tata service, features
Thumbs down : Feels flimsily built, handling and fuel efficiency to some extent
Fiat Punto : The Fiat Punto may not have exactly set the sales chart on fire but it definitely does elicit some kind of emotion when one sees it. Needless to say, one cannot ignore the Maserati inspired nose of this car plus those gorgeous alloys. However, its long proportions don’t mean that it would also have immense space inside. On the contrary, the Punto is just a tad bit roomier than the Palio. But then the features list that it offers would even shame some of the bigger C and even D segment sedans. It has got a steering wheel who’s look is to die for plus steering mounted audio and Bluetooth controls. The meter dials though look retro but their attention to detail is fantastic. Up in the front, there is plenty of legroom and also head room. However, both these terms vanish to thin air when it comes to the rear. The Punto is a nice handling car, that is only if one can adjust with the big turning circle that the car offers. Its ride quality is also on the superlative side. There are 4 engine options on offer. One is the 1.2 liter engine as seen on the Vista. The second is the famous multijet one. Third and 4th engines are termed as hot since they both produce 90 Bhp in petrol and diesel guises. Surprisingly while the 1.2 liter petrol can deliver only an ARAI claimed 15.2 kmpl, the 90 Bhp snorting diesel can deliver 20 kmpl as per ARAI. Prices start from Rs 4.4 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Looks, features, ride and quality
Thumbs down : Anemic engine, fuel efficiency, space, aftersales
Ford Figo : This small car from Ford single handedly changed the company’s fortunes. People who, earlier, never considered a Ford car are now turning to the Figo as their choice of wheels. It has become the volumes player that Ford wanted it to be. A good looking car coupled with decent interiors and space is what the doctor just ordered. No wonder that this car has raked up most of the awards last year. Ford’s built for India cars speak of Ford’s commitment towards the car buying populace from India. The equipment list, while not a patch on the Punto, is definitely more user friendly. There is lots of space inside the cabin both in the front and back. What makes it stand out is the ride and handling package. Ford India have been known to make cars which are certainly superior to their rivals in terms of the handling and the Figo doesn’t disappoint either. Steering wheel is also the best in its category with lots of feel and preciseness associated with it. Ride quality however can be termed as being a bit on the stiffer side. There are two engine options on offer and those are a new 1.2 liter petrol motor pushing 70 Bhp while the diesel motor is from the Fiesta Classic turning out 68 Bhp. Both are mated with 5 speed transmission units which feel slick to operate. ABS as also airbags are offered on the top end variants. 15.6 kmpl is the ARAI certified fuel efficiency of the petrol while the diesel claims 20.0 kmpl. Prices start from Rs 3.63 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Looks, space, fuel efficiency and pricing
Thumbs down : Some iffy plastics, lack of power windows at the rear, aftersales
Hyundai i20 : This big Korean hatch sells in reasonable numbers every month and the numbers keep on increasing each month. Its appealing look and the spacious interior would put many sedans to shame. Apart from the Punto, the i20 is the only other hatch which offers so many features in its class. The interiors have a bespoke value to them with great fit and finish. Space is also readily available and 5 people would be able to sit inside the car quite comfortably. But then taking the car out for a spin reveals that its soft sprung suspension and overall chassis aren’t comfortable taking fast corners. Infact sedate pace is the word for the big Hyundai. Hyundai’s biggest focus was delivering the ride quality as perfect it can be and hence the explanation for the suspension softness. Steering wheel feel is very light and the same feeling carries forward on the highway as well. What Hyundai has done is that they have launched the i20 with 3 engine options as also 3 transmission options. The 1.2 petrol makes 79 Bhp of power and the bigger and more powerful 1.4 liter petrol puts out 99 Bhp. While the former is mated with a 5 speed unit, the latter comes in only a 4 speed auto option. The third is a 1.4 liter diesel motor which like the diesel turbocharged Punto, puts out 90 Bhp of power. It gets a 6 speed manual gearbox. ARAI figures for the 3 engines in the aforementioned order are 18.15, 15.03 and 22.1 kmpl. Prices start from Rs 4.8 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Looks, features, space, dealer network, auto option
Thumbs down : Costly aftersales, soggy handling, fuel efficiency of the petrol motors
VW Polo : A large car by VW India but still called as a small hatchback, the VW Polo is a worthy competitor in its class. Its looks are to die for and much in the same league as the Punto. But then just like the Punto, space is at a premium inside. It has good fit and finish but then lacks in equipment levels, which show the corner cutting for what is touted as the cheapest VW on sale in India. Steering mounted controls are absent and so are some other essential features. The front seat passengers get to enjoy the space while the rear ones are left with dashing knees. Inspite of being a German car, it is setup to be on the softer side, as far as the suspension setup goes. This translates to a superlative ride quality but with good dollops of handling incorporated into it. Precise engineering is what is the backbone of the Polo. VW offers a choice of 3 engine options in the Polo. The 1.2 liter petrol unit produces 74 Bhp of power, the 1.2 liter diesel makes 74 Bhp while the 1.6 liter petrol produces 102 Bhp of power. All the three engines make do with a 5 speed manual transmission. ARAI fuel efficiencies are quoted as 17.2 kmpl, 22.1 kmpl and 15.2 kmpl respectively. Safety features are also at par with industry standards. Prices start from Rs 4.6 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Looks, premium feel, ride and handling, build quality
Thumbs down : Lack of features, space at the rear and VW’s aftersales
Nissan Micra : Nissan India’s small steps in the Indian automobile market have resulted in the birth of the Nissan Micra in India. This small cute car is an instant eye ball grabber, not because of its design cues, but because of the fact that not many abound in the streets. It may look small from outside, however, it is big on space inside, actually much better than some other cars featured here. It also has some very new features like electrically powered mirrors and engine push button. Unfortunately the Nissan build quality is not upto the usual standards and some panel gaps here and there do seem inconsistent. As far as the ride quality goes, the Micra feels exactly like the i20, but a bit more accommodating as far as high speed stability goes. It is the nimblest car in its category thanks to the small turning radius and its overall size. The steering wheel delivers sufficient feedback on the go and is a very agile unit. Corner carving is what the Micra ain’t built for and it amply tells the driver not to chuck it around corners. There are two engine options available. One is a 1.2 liter petrol unit which has a peak output of 75 Bhp whereas the 1.5 liter diesel engine makes 65 Bhp. Both the engines are mated to 5 speed units which have apt gear ratios. ARAI claimed fuel efficiency figures of 18.06 kmpl and 23.08 kmpl feel impressive enough. Prices start from Rs 4.15 lakhs.
Thumbs up : Cheerful interiors, features, space, ease of handling, fuel efficiency
Thumbs down : Nissan dealer and service network, build quality
Maruti Swift 2011 : Though its launch date is yet uncertain, it is most likely that the Maruti Swift 2011 model would retain its numero uno position in the hatchback market. Maruti don’t think of attempting to fix something which isn’t broken and hence the new Swift looks like the old one, but with some subtle changes. A bit more of length to the Swift’s overall dimensions also help very much. Since it is still not launched, not much details are available about it. However expect to have a bit more of the interior room liberated. A start stop button just like the Micra would also be present. About the ride and handling, the earlier Swift was the benchmark as far as the handling stakes for hatches go and the new Swift shouldn’t be too much off the mark. The same 1.2 liter and 1.3 liter engines are expected to be continued. The 1.2 liter K series motor puts out 85 Bhp currently however there are heavy chances that Maruti may bring in the VVT tech to India and power may go upto as high as 93 Bhp. As for the diesel, it would still continue to give 75 Bhp of power. It is said that the new car would have better fuel efficiency and less polluting characteristics than the outgoing model. However, the prices of this model are yet to be revealed and so no comments can be made about it.
Thumbs up : Cheerful handling, looks, features
Thumbs down : Build quality, less interior space
We have piled up the list of the competitors of the Toyota Liva in India and now, its upto the readers to choose their set of wheels.
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