Over the last few years, the Swift has had to contend with many rivals mostly from companies bigger and better than Suzuki. The Toyota Etios Liva, Honda Brio, Nissan Micra, Ford Figo, Chevrolet Sail U-VA, Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia...the list is long.
None of them, however, managed to even ruffle the 8-year-old bestseller. The one missing name was Hyundai, which had the i10 a little below and the i20 a little above the Swift. Arguably, the Korean carmaker’s knowledge of the Indian market is second only to Maruti. And now that it has decided to pit its new i10 directly against the Swift, it merits a long hard look.
A whole lot of things. There are bits and parts of a lot of cars around in the new design fused with the trademark Hyundai visage. It is not a striking design, but a practical one nevertheless.
Up front is the hexagonal grille and a thin slot-like upper grille, like the old i10. The headlamps are large and bold like the old i20. The dimensions have increased for the Indian version and is longer by a good 100mm than the European i10. The only really striking feature is the rear, which has a new wraparound cluster, carried forward from the i20 but in a crisper smarter format.
Much of the novelty lies inside. The design is new and more upmarket. The quality of plastic and fit and finish are great, and the list of equipment long.
A lot is being made about the rear AC vents, but without an independent compressor, it is no more than an air blower. Space both at the front and rear are generous and more than the Swift, and the boot is bigger too. But the seats are thin, and back support patchy.
Is it a hot hatch?
Simply put, it isn’t. It comes with a 1.2-litre Kappa petrol engine, which is also there in the i20 and the existing i10. The bigger talking point is the 1.1-litre diesel engine, a derivative of the 1.4-litre engine that does duty in the i20.
This engine has one cylinder less, hence, lower power and torque than the i20 — but much better fuel economy. It also has less grunt than the Swift.
The lack of power is well disguised by the lack of turbo lag and engine noise. It offers a peppy drive in the city, but on the highway deficiencies show. It starts to feel strained beyond 120 kph and like most Hyundai cars, suffers from feeble steering feedback at high speeds, Though it handles better than the i10, it is still not comparable to European hatches or even the Swift.
Without being outlandish the Grand i10 is the perfect small car for the city. It has many practical features not available in similar cars like push ignition, rear AC vents, parking sensors etc.
There is no dearth of safety features either, while being frugal on the fuel front. It does not pull any aces over the Swift on performance, but toe to toe, it is `30,000-50,000 cheaper. If you listen to the mind than the heart, the Grand will make a big impression.