GRAND I10 NIOS V SWIFT
The Nios has improved by leaps and bounds over the Grand i10, but has it done enough to take on the Swift?
CARS ARE GETTING BIGGER and hatchbacks, especially, are climbing up the ladder and offering much more when it comes to practicality and features. One such interesting car in question is the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios. Sure, the Grand i10 Nios has grown in leaps and bounds when compared to its predecessor, the Grand i10. But what's surprising is that the little hatchback is now punching above its weight and we think it could pose a credible challenge to hatchbacks from a segment above. To put these thoughts to the test, we pitted it against the segment leader, the Maruti Suzuki Swift. We tested the Asta diesel variant of the i10 Nios against the VDi (we couldn't get our hands on the ZDi+) AMT variant of the Swift as the diesel variants are arguably the most practical with their much higher fuel efficiency.
The Swift has dominated its segment when it comes to sheer sales numbers for close to a decade now. But, on paper the cars are closely matched – 74bhp for the Swift as against exactly 74bhp when it comes to the Grand i10 Nios. Torque too stands at an identical 190Nm. Were Hyundai aiming for the Swift all along? The pricing that puts it tantalisingly close only points to that direction. Things get even more interesting as you spend more time with the spec sheets. They have an identical wheelbase of 2450mm and the other dimensions, too, are very similar, except for the width and height, with the Grand i10 Nios being a little narrower and shorter.
The similarities however, end the moment you step foot in to either of the two. The Hyundai Grand i10 Nios is stylish and modern on the inside while the Swift sticks to a more traditional approach. The all-black layout of the Swift is something that I did admire. But frankly, it doesn't get the host of gizmos and tech that the Grand i10 Nios gets. Nor, does it match the sheer quality of materials in the Nios. The front row seats in the Swift are however, more comfortable, although overall quality and materials of the Grand i10 Nios' seats are definitely better. In the back, the Swift's cabin is wider and can seat three abreast easily. The bump in the centre, however, makes for an uncomfortable middle passenger. Surprisingly, kneeroom is just a little better in the Grand i10 Nios. However, what really sets the Nios' cabin apart is how airy the cabin feels when compared to the Swift's which feels hemmed in. The choices to use brighter colours in the cabin as well as the larger glass area (as compared to the Swift) certainly helps matters.
The Grand i10 Nios is in tune with 2019 when it comes to the equipment it offers and prospective buyers will like the neat little touches like the textured surfaces on the dash and on the doors, the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled infotainment screen, cooled glovebox, rear AC vents, rear charging ports and the wireless charging pad.
The engine and transmission combo on the Swift has always been a high point and it continues to impress in its third generation too. But now the Swift's engine is matched closely by the Grand i10 Nios'. It revs easily all the way upto its redline and you can ride the generous torque curve as you overtake slowermoving cars. The five–speed manual gearbox on the Grand i10 Nios too is just as good as that on the Swift, and its short throws allow for a rather effortless time behind the wheel. There is one small grouse I have with the Grand i10 Nios' engine and gearbox though, and that's the amount of vibrations that can be felt at speeds of upto 12kmph in second gear. Mind you, it doesn't have a tendency to stall easily at those speeds (which is something first-time car buyers will appreciate) but the vibrations
The Nios has grown in leaps and bounds when compared to its predecessor
that are felt through the clutch pedal are a tad unpleasant.
Both the Swift and the Grand i10 Nios have a McPherson strut at the front and a torsion beam at the back. But what they achieve using that setup couldn't be more different. Among the two, the Swift is clearly the driver's car, mostly as a result of the steering that feels a lot more direct than the overly-assisted one in the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios. The wider track must certainly be helping matters, as the Swift definitely feels more planted going through corners. However, the ride has a harder edge to it and a fair share of bumps and undulations are felt in the cabin.
The Grand i10 Nios takes an approach that finds the middle ground between good ride and handling. The steering wheel is vague and offers no real feedback but it is accurate and is acceptable enough in most driving scenarios. However, what really sets it apart is how the suspension deals with bumps and potholes. The Grand i10 Nios takes the edge off most undulations and there is very little that actually makes its way to the cabin. And more importantly for us driving enthusiasts, the body roll is well contained too. The handling too, is extremely predictable and it manages to keep the car composed even while sprinting down a bumpy back road. As speeds go up, the
What really sets the Nios apart is how the suspension
deals with bumps and potholes
Grand i10 Nios continues to ride and handle well but the Swift's steering loses its direct feel and is excessively light, making you take a step back once at highway speeds. On the braking front, both the Swift and the Nios have brakes with good bite and feedback but the Grand i10 Nios holds the edge with slightly better performance.
Overall, the Nios outperforms the Swift in a number of key areas and comes across as a better overall package. The Swift remains the enthusiast's car but in most other areas the Nios outscores the benchmark and that makes it the winner of this comparison. ⌧
Top to bottom, Nios: 8-inch touchscreen on the NIOS is fast and responsive; both diesel and petrol get the option of AMT; wireless charging pad is unheard of in this segment
Top to bottom: Swift's cabin looks dated in comparison; the Nios gets bright and peppy colours on the inside; the 15-inch alloys on the Nios look much smarter. Facing page, bottom: 1.2-litre diesel engine in the Nios is borrowed from the Grand i10, but is more responsive