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Wheel in the best

Analyse the features of the Figo, Swift, Ritz and Vista, as they battle it out for the buyer’s attention.

business Updated: Apr 16, 2010 23:24 IST

Let us begin with the Figo. Its dashboard design is similar to the bigger Fiesta saloon. There is loads of legroom up front. The front seats, with their good under-thigh support, are comfortable and visibiexcellent.lity is

Interiors

The Figo’s switchgear has a built-to-last feel. But the seat-height adjust is partial and only the back of the seat base moves.

The Maruti Ritz has easily got the cheeriest cabin. The single-pod instrument cluster looks smart. But the tiny fuel gauge is difficult to read.

The Ritz’s driving position is good and the high-set seats ensure good visibility. There aren’t height-adjustable seats and tilt steering either but the seats are comfortable. The plastic

quality is the best of this group and a step ahead of its sibling, the Swift.

If you like a sporty seating position, then move over to the Swift which has the most encompassing front seats. Most drivers will appreciate the position. Sadly, you don’t get tilt steering or a height-adjustable seat.

The general quality of materials used is only bettered by Ritz, though the Swift’s dark interiors can get a bit dreary after a long drive. All controls fall easily to hand but rear visibility is an issue due to the thick rear pillars and reversing into tight slots is a pain.

The Tata Indica Vista has an edge over its rivals in interior space. The seats are comfortable and you get lumbar adjust along with height adjust for front seats. But it has its problems. Though the quality levels are an improvement on earlier Indicas, they aren’t consistent in the cabin.

The Vista’s dashboard layout with a centre-mounted instrument cluster takes getting used to. The driving position is good except for the small pedal area which leaves very little place to rest your left foot.

Features

To cut costs, Ford has skimped on some basic equipment on the Figo. What’s missing are steering-mounted audio controls but the biggest oversight is the absence of rear power windows.

The Figo’s top-end Titanium variant gets safety essentials such as ABS and airbags. You also get electric power mirrors, an audio system with MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Ritz and the Swift are similar. You get power windows, power steering, AC, central locking and fog lamps. ABS brakes are optional extras. The Ritz lacks a day/night rearview mirror, which is a glaring omission. Airbags are not even an option on the car.

The Vista comes decently equipped in the Aura variant. You get the basic features and rear wash/wipe/defogger, tilt steering and lumbar adjust, among other things, on the front seats. However, there is no option of airbags.

Engine

If you liked the Fiesta TDCi, then you’ll love driving the Figo diesel, because it gets the same engine. It’s the only car here that does not come with Fiat’s 1.3 Multijet diesel motor. The smooth Duratorq diesel engine sets the benchmark here for responsiveness from low engine revs. The Figo goes from zero to 100 kph in 16.3 seconds.

The other three cars share the same 1.3-litre Multijet engine. However, compared to the Vista, the Marutis are in a different state of tune. The Ritz engine feels very responsive and sprightly, but that’s only after you’ve pushed it above the 2,000 rpm mark. Zero to 100 kph takes 15.18 seconds. Overtaking at highway speeds doesn’t often require gear changes.

The Ritz’s gearbox is slick and lighter than the Swift. At 1140 kg, the Indica Vista isn’t as lightweight as the Marutis. So, it isn’t as quick off the block like the Swift or the Ritz. Zero to 100 kph takes 16.36 seconds. But the Indica is the most driveable of the lot after the Figo and responds better at low speeds, a boon while driving in the city.

Space

Front seat space isn’t a worry for any of these cars as all four provide ample leg- and headroom and even the tallest of passengers will not feel hemmed in.

The Figo has an exceptional 284-litre boot which is exceptional compared to its rivals, especially the Vista.

Like the older Indica, the Vista provides class-leading space. The airy cabin has huge leg-room, head-room and shoulder-room. You get decent storage space as well but in the interest of maximising passenger space, Tata has limited boot space to only 232 litres, the same as the Swift’s, which is a major disappointment for such a large hatch.

Rear legroom in the Swift is limited and with a tall person in the front, you will feel cramped.

The Ritz’s tall stance helps it maximise interior space. There is surplus head-room inside but leg-room is limited. The high seating position doesn’t have your knees pressing into the back of front seats. The car’s tall stance also means it is easy to get in and out of. However, the 236-litre boot is oddly shaped and can’t handle much luggage.

Handling

The Figo has the best balance between ride and handling. It feels planted at all speeds and only sharp bumps filter into the cabin. The steering is light at parking speeds but weights up nicely as speeds increase.

The Ritz’s suspension is on the softer side and the ride is good at slow and medium speeds. But at higher speeds, the rear does tend to bob up and down and that is a little disappointing.

The Swift has always been an enjoyable car to drive. Now with its softer suspension, it has lost some of its driver involvement.

But the ride has improved. The harsh ride of the earlier car is gone and in its place comes a more absorbent suspension. But it still can’t match the ride of the Vista or the Figo.

The Swift remains stable around corners and steers precisely. And the brakes offer good bite.

Tata has provided the Vista with a comfortable ride rather than outright driver appeal, and the effort shows. Ride quality is the best of the lot. Most road undulations are taken care of with minimum disturbance to the cabin, but the soft suspension means that the handling isn’t the best.

The Indica feels nose-heavy when cornered hard; there is visible body roll too. The steering is a bit vague around the centre position but provides decent feedback as you turn into a corner. In a nutshell, the Indica is ideal for family use with its comfortable ride over most surfaces. Those seeking driving thrills need to look elsewhere.

In association with Autocar India