The Uber Cool one when introduced in India in 2008 was an addition to the line of big hatches roaming around in India with little or no success. The success part was related to the other big hatches namely the Skoda Fabia and the Honda Jazz. The primary reason behind both was that inspite of having puny engines, both especially the Honda was priced stratoshperically. But then when the Hyundai i20 diesel in India was introduced, then it changed the game overnight. Here was a spacious hatch with a good diesel engine and also oomph factor for the looks thing. Like all Hyundai products, it was priced very well. Needless to say, the Hyundai cashier has been on a smile all along. But then Nissan India Private Limited wanted to capture a chunk of the small car sales and hence introduced the Nissan Micra petrol variant and shortly thereafter, the Nissan Micra diesel in India. There is a price difference of almost a lakh between the top end variants of both but then that is the closest it can get to almost similar capacity motors and so we decided to pitch both of them for a battle.
Hyundai i20 diesel: The fluidic concept design of the Hyundai family isn’t quite visible in the design elements of the Hyundai i20. Infact the refreshed Hyundai i10 has more of that now. Even if Hyundai were to design a sedan based on the hatchback, it would be beautifully lined up in the Hyundai portfolio. The bulge in the front shows a heavy front end. The peeled back head lamps show a beak design. The small radiator grille has now become a trend with small cars as well as some big ones. The air dam is more of a wider affair. The one piece bumper has the fog lamps which are a size bigger than the others in its class. The 185/65 R14 Apollo Accelere rubber also looks good on the hatch. The curvaceous lines abound in the side profile. The rear is also curvaceous like the front and sides. The tail lamps are a single piece unit with a not so chunky tail pipe protruding.
Nissan Micra diesel: Well, the Nissan Micra diesel in India is the new kid on the block. For it as well, there is nothing to distinguish it from its petrol sibling. To be fair, you have to really see a Nissan Micra on the road rather than drool over it in the pictures. The apple grille with the Nissan logo on the bonnet makes the car look one segment lower than it is. The oval head lamps alongwith the wimp of fog lamps for an excuse make this car a cute one. Even it has got 14 inch alloys which have a different design than the petrol model one’s. The rear is also a part of the cute package with the small bulging tail lamps and the hidden tail pipe.
The Nissan Micra diesel is the one to go for if you prefer looks over practicality but then if it’s the other way round, then it’s the Hyundai for you. Me? I would prefer the Hyundai i20 over the Nissan Micra.
Hyundai i20 diesel: The Hyundai i20 diesel in India gets the same interior treatment as its petrol counterpart. The two tone interior feels a good place to be. Especially if you have been in a Maruti Swift. The steering wheel immediately reminded me of the Honda City and Civic’s unit.it has got audio and Bluetooth controls on it. It has got all the power goodies including electrical ORVM adjustments. The stereo system also feels wonderful to the ears. The auto climate control system also works wonderfully. The gear lever though a bit long is also nice to hold. Above all, for a 6 footer, there is more or less adjustment needed to get into the driver’s seat. The back can easily seat three people without their getting intimate or cosy. The boot space is also good and can accommodate two small suitcases and some more of the shopping ones. Infact, I would rather call it a sedan without boots rather than been a hatchback.
Nissan Micra diesel: Like the Hyundai i20, the Nissan Micra diesel in India interiors also doesn’t vary much from its petrol variant. The steering wheel is devoid of audio controls and even misses out on the chrome Nissan logo and instead gets an embedded plastic one. It looks as if someone has flicked the the badge. The interiors boast of a cheerful theme but then if you have checked out the Hyundai i20’s interiors first, then the interiors of the Nissan Micra diesel would seem a bit cramped in comparison. Don’t get me wrong but then that is the perception that one starts to build up. Adjusting in the driver’s seat takes sometime. But then you begin to appreciate the general layout of things. Cut to the rear and it can also seat 3 comfortably but then some under thigh support is missing and shoulder room pales in comparison to the Hyundai i20. The boot space is also smaller as compared to the Hyundai i20 and at the most would take in 2 small suitcases.
The Hyundai i20 wins this round due to the sheer volume of space that it has on offer as well as goodies and the better cabin build.
Handling and ride quality
Hyundai i20 diesel: McPherson struts with gas shock absorbers in the front and gas shock absorbers with couple torsion beam axle does at the rear make up the suspension configuration for the Hyundai i20 diesel in India. The steering wheel though light isn’t as direct to my liking. I know, we automobile scribes have this problem of expecting every machine that we test to handle like a Formula 1 car but then that isn’t the case. As far as jaunts in the city traffic go, the Hyundai 120 diesel would do your bidding easily. Its out in the twisties that you would start getting that artificial steering wheel feel. The chassis has been damped to be on the softer side and this means that ride quality is stellar. But then put in a full complement of passengers and the suspension would start bottoming out. Handling is pretty okay for a big hatch but then if your everyday life is confined to the city, you wouldn’t miss much on either the handling as well as ride quality front. You would be hard pressed to tell if you are in the petrol or diesel variant since the NVH is very low. It is only at speeds above 120 kmph that you realize that this is a diesel car after all.
Nissan Micra diesel: The Nissan Micra diesel in India sports the V platform chassis which is been used to make other vehicles in the Renault Nissan alliance as well. This Nissan baby gets Independent McPherson struts at the front whereas the rear gets non independent torsion beam. The low speed ride quality is better as compared to the Hyundai i20, even though it is a bit on the harder side. The suspension doesn’t bottom out even with a full complement of passengers but then this translates to a harder ride quality on the highway. It does get a bit nervous on the open-way. The steering is the talking point in the whole chassis as it has that finger tip light feeling which makes it very special in the city confines. Out on the highway, the electromechanical steering weighs up nicely. It is a better unit than the Hyundai’s. The handling is also way better than the i20’s with the Nissan Micra having a calm and composed feeling while going around corners. The Logan’s engine has a nice muted snarl even at high speeds making the Nissan Micra diesel one of the better damped cars in this comparo.
The Nissan Micra wins this round due to a better all round ride and handling package.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Hyundai i20 diesel: The Hyundai i20 diesel in India gets an all new 1.4 liter CRDi engine which makes 90 Ps of peak power at 4000 rpm and a healthy torque of 220 Nm at 1750 rpm. This makes it one of the most powerful diesels in its category. It races from 0-100 kmph in 12.75 seconds only. Below 1600 rpm, there is not much action happening and you would have to frequently shift gears. By the way, the gearbox is a 6 speed manual and the actions are quick though a bit long. Once the turbo spools up past the 1800 mark, there is no stopping the i20. It doesn’t give you the feeling of the much lighter Getz with the 1.5 CRDi but then it would make other bigger sedans pale in comparison. It tops at the speed of 168 kmph. The car gets discs in the front and drums at the rear with EBD and ABS thrown in for good measure. The brake pedal feel is excellent and the car stops well ahead of calculated times. It is a well known fact that the Hyundai i20 diesel in India gets Euro NCAP 5 star ratings for safety. It gets 6 air bags (a segment first), 3 point seat belts with pretensioners and also a collapsible steering column. Fuel efficiency goes a few notches up with the 6 speed transmission. The diesel i20 returns 14.8 kmpl in the city and a high 22.4 kmpl on the highway. All these figures have been achieved with the AC on.
Nissan Micra diesel: The Nissan Micra diesel in India gets the familiar 1.5 liter diesel engine from the Mahindra Logan. This engine is slightly detuned for use in the Micra and it now makes 64 Ps at 4000 rpm whereas the torque figure is rated at 160 Nm which is obtained at 2000 rpm. Though on papers, the Nissan diesel is outclassed by the Hyundai one in terms of power and torque, it is the real world driving which makes all the difference. The diesel engine in the Micra is very responsive even from low speeds. The best part is that there is no turbo lag at all. The 5 speed gearbox is similar to the Hyundai’s in feel but is more responsive in keeping tune with the diesel’s characteristics. The 0-100 kmph dash comes up in 15.4 seconds which is way lower than that of the Hyundai i20. Also the top speed is 155 kmph. Brakes are discs at front and drums at rear. But then there is no other stopping aid like ABS or EBD. Safety is handled by a single driver air bags, collapsible steering column and the 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency is better than that of the i20, with the Nissan Micra diesel returning 15.2 kmpl in the city and 22.6 kmpl on the highway.
Hyundai i20 diesel wins this round due to the superb safety features, performance and fuel efficiency. The Nissan would have won this round if it had those essential safety features in place.
This did seem like a David versus Goliath fight but then it had to be carried out since many of our readers wanted a comparo between the two. First the positives of the Hyundai i20 diesel in India. It gets a superior cabin with good build quality, enough of goodies to keep you happy, is a safe car to drive and has good fuel efficiency. Bad parts are that the handling is underwhelming, not so nimble in city and pricey. Best things about the Nissan Micra are cute looks, tight turning radius, good tractable engine and superb fuel efficiency. Bad bits are the interior space, features, lack of safety features and dealer network. Based on the above tests, the Hyundai i20 diesel emerges the clear winner. The Hyundai i20 diesel price in India starts from Rs 5,75,759 for the base version and goes all the way to Rs 7,34,540 for the top end one. The Nissan Micra diesel price in India starts from Rs 5.58 lakhs and ends at Rs 6.07 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show, room Mumbai prices. Now, it depends on you if you want to save a lakh or half more and go for the Nissan Micra diesel or pay the premium now and go for the Hyundai i20 diesel.