Maruti-Suzuki Swift vs Hyundai i20 vs Honda Jazz
The Maruti Suzuki Swift has been launched in an all new avatar. The Hyundai i20 too gets a mid-life facelift. The Honda Jazz continues to be unique. But which one shines?
In the recently concluded Auto Expo 2018 there was plenty to be excited about. For starters, one of India’s favourite hatchback was getting a makeover and needless to say, there was a certain buzz in the atmosphere. Which was infectious to say the least. Adding to this excitement was the fact that Maruti-Suzuki’s Swift wasn’t the only hatch making car lovers anxious. To set the bar higher than it already was in the hatch world, South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai also had another trick up their sleeve. While Maruti-Suzuki launched the swanking Swift, Hyundai launched the refreshed edition of i20 to combat it. Both are well designed, feature-loaded cars, therefore for our this month’s road test, pitching them against each other was inevitable. And while we were at it, we decided to spice up the process and give our readers another choice to ponder over. This is why, we threw in the equally
capable Honda Jazz. So which one should you opt for? Read on and see which one fits your liking.
The Swift is all new and by that Maruti-Suzuki means just that. The new hatch is based on the new HEARTEC platform which underpins the bigger Baleno as well. It is also wider than before and even has a larger wheelbase. However the overall length has reduced slightly. The new Swift also stays true to its original design. It is unmistakably the Swift. However there are numerous changes one can spot instantaneously. It now gets projector headlamps with in-built daytime running lights. The bumpers have changed both up front and at the back. In profile it’s easy to miss out the rear door handles and that is because designers have cleverly repositioned within the C-pillars. This is in a bid to give the Swift a coupe’ look and we’d like to believe that company has come pretty close. Overall the chunky tyres and compact dimensions all give the Swift a sporty hue. Which essentially maintains the essence of the car.
The i20 on the other hand received a mid-life facelift. But in sync with Hyundai’s game plan of segment domination, the company has loaded it up with even more features than before. Take for instance the headlamps which now are projectors. A daytime running light has also been added, not to forget the extremely handy cornering lights are also a new addition. The wheels are redone and at the same time the tail lamps have been redesigned and look rather dashing. The new colour schemes look good on the i20 and our personal choice is the unique two-tones. The Jazz, on the other end features a rather racy design. The ‘man maximum machine minimum’ philosophy ensures this hatchback offers a large cabin. To do this the wheels have been to the farthest corners possible. The bonnet is stout and we loved those large and edgy headlamps. The profile also reveals the large greenhouse and visibility all around is top class.
The Swift’s interiors have changed drastically. Earlier the Swift and the Dzire shared similar dashboards and instrument panel. But this time round they are different from each other. The dash of the new Swift maintains a sporty theme which complements its exterior as well and makes the car look balanced inside out. The centre console houses the climate control system which now look good. The number of buttons has been reduced and the display looks smart and modern. The reduction in the number of knobs is also because the Swift now gets the large touchscreen infotainment system. This is the same system deployed in the Baleno and Brezza and supports Android and Apple Car Play. The IP is lined with a non-intrusive red back light and is easy to read. It
also offers plenty of information to the driver. Adding to the feature list is the key less entry and go. As for the space, the new Swift sure is spacious up front. Getting the right driving position is easy thanks to the height adjustable driver’s perch. To be fair, we must add that the other two cars have similar features too. The Swift is spacious than before but as far as this front is concerned, it cannot be called the best in class. And this fact stands out as a sore thumb in the rear seating. However the Swift does get a 60:40 split seats which aid versatility. The boot can now hold 268 litres of cargo.
The i20 cabin feels plusher and the twotone treatment makes the cabin bright. The AVN system has been upgraded to a larger and more loaded unit and it can now be connected to your mobile phone via an application. The instrument cluster offers more information than before like the instant fuel economy option. The steering wheel is adjustable for both reach and rake now. It is also perhaps apt to mention here that Hyundai
will sell the i20 with an optional six airbags, specific to the Asta (O) variant. Lower variants will get two airbags and ABS much like the other two. As for cabin space, the i20 is more spacious than the Swift at the back. Getting in and out is not a problem and all passengers get decent legroom and space in the rear. The boot is quite large as well but the i20 does not get the option of split seats. The Jazz gets a rather large dash and an all-new infotainment system. The climate control system is operable through a touchscreen panel it’s a cool feature and looks classy. The Jazz has been the benchmark when it comes to space. The only downside is the fact that those brilliant ‘Magic Seats’
are only available in the top variant now. The Jazz also has several nooks and crannies in cabin to stow knick knacks. It also comes with a big boot which can be filled up with relative ease thanks to the low loading lip.
The models that we tested were all diesel variants. Powering the Swift is the tried and tested and super reliable 1.3-litre DDiS90 en- gine. It is further mated to the 5-speed gearbox. As for the i20, it too continues with the 1.4-litre oil burner and is mated to a 6-speed gearbox. The Jazz on the other hand gets the biggest engine here in form of the 1.5-litre i-DTEC motor. Much like the i20, the Jazz too gets a 6-speed box.
The Swift starts up with a familiar diesel clatter. The engine feels more responsive and pulls well. There sure remains the bit of turbo lag as before but it has comparatively improved from before. We actually like the surge in power which comes around the 1,800rpm mark and it gives a sporty feel to the driver. This also means that in case the revs have dropped, a down shift will be necessary to get the boost back. This brings us to the gearbox which is crisp and brilliant to op-
erate. The clutch is light too. However the high point in the Swift’s arsenal is fuel economy. The figures are best described as staggering and if it is efficiency you are after, opt for the Swift hands down. The Swift also handles well. It is agile and loves to be thrown around corners. Much like the Dzire, the Swift too offers excellent ride quality.
The steering set offers a decent amount of feedback and the responses are quick. Overall the Swift sure is the driver’s delight. In the i20, all of the above come with more finesse. The NVH packaging is better and the engine is not as audible within the cabin. The bigger engine also allows the i20 to get off the line pretty fast despite it being a heavier car. We love the linear power delivery of the engine and though one will not feel the ‘boost’, acceleration remains fairly rapid. The gearbox though slick is not as crisp as the Swift or even the Jazz for that matter. However the shifts are easy and the cogs are well identified. The i20 also offers a better ride than before. Bump absorption capabilities have improved and even handling is better. The bottom line is that the i20 now loves corners more than before. The steering though could have offered more feedback.
Coming to the Jazz, the motor is noisy and that crackle can be heard clearly in the cabin. Which means there’s no hiding its diesel traits. But the best thing about the Jazz is its pulling capability. It goes with ease and there is ample power on tap too. Adding to these accolades is the gearbox which feels slick. The throws are short too and makes it all the more enjoyable. The Jazz also likes to dance around corners. Show it one and it will cut clean through it like a blade. Body roll is less and the steering feels quick and responsive. Even though it’s a largish hatch, the Jazz is flickable.
The Jazz is incredibly spacious too. Offers plenty of room for three
i20 is more spacious at the back and it also offers a rear AC vent which is often handy
Space in the Swift is far better than before. However not the best in this lot
1. The Swift cabin is all about being sporty and young. 2. The Honda’s touchscreen climate control panel makes it unique. 3. The Hyundai offers a plush and more sophisticated cabin experience. So all three cars cater to different flavours
All three hatchbacks get touchscreen systems. 1. The one on the Swift is identical to the Brezza and Baleno. 2. The Honda’s unit looks a bit old school in comparison to the others. 3. The Hyundai gets a brand new infotainment system which is larger and...