Old Rivals but a class apart?
Maruti Suzuki Swift Vs 2017 Hyundai Elite i20 1.2 litre Petrol Comparison: It’s strange that the Hyundai Elite i20 was almost conceptualized to take on the Maruti Suzuki Swift, and yet now a decade later they technically contest two different spaces in the ever-widening Indian automotive industry. The Maruti Suzuki Swift technically competes with the Grand i10 and the Hyundai i20 takes on the more premium Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Technicalities, as we have learnt, rarely affect one’s buying choices and most people usually consider these two old rivals as very relevant options in the hatchback space. This seemingly one-sided battle becomes more relevant when you realize that both the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Hyundai i20 have almost similar engine specs, little as makes no difference in terms of performance and similar dimensions. Although the i20 is marginally longer. The rivalry that goes back more than a decade gets further cemented when you realize that Hyundai launched the facelifted 2018 Hyundai Elite i20 at the Auto Expo 2018, the same stage that Maruti Suzuki had selected for the all-new Swift.
Dimensions and Design
Decidedly saying that either the Hyundai Elite i20 or the Maruti Suzuki Swift is better to look it is quite an impossible feat. Both cars will appeal to different sets of people. The new-Swift which is based on the new Heartect platform that underpins the Baleno and Dzire uses every design cue to look younger and sportier. The Elite i20, on the other hand, has matured over the years and the new 2018 i20 uses sinewy lines matched with a smoother silhouette to look more mature and appeal to the slightly more comfort-oriented buyer. That’s as far as tastes go.That said, on the inside, the Elite i20 petrol is an easy winner, with more room thanks to the added length of the Elite i20. It’s really a matter of picking your poison. Here’s what’s new on in terms of design on both these cars.
The most notable change in the 2018 Elite i20 is the addition of the new cascading grille to match the rest of the family. The headlamps now get LED DRLs along with projector lamps. The bumper has now been redesigned as well, which makes room for new fog lamp housings as well. On the side, the ORVMs get new turn indicators as well, to add to the Elite i20’s eliteness. While most of the changes on the Elite i20 have been kept subtle so as not alienate the i20’s signature form, the rear has received the most in terms of tweaks. The rear is curvier than the previous car, and Hyundai has upped the i20’s ante with LED tail-lamps and a new faux mesh grille on the bumpers. Additionally, the rear number plate space has moved from the bumper into the tailgate. Finally, there are the machine-cut 16-inch alloy wheels which really add to the i20s appeal.
The 2018 Maruti Suzuki Swift has the longest list of cosmetic changes considering that this is the first complete overhaul for almost a decade. While the changes don’t alienate the Swifts original Euro-hatch inspired design, the new headlamps and revised blacked out C-Pillar do add a bit of oomph. In addition, the Swift gets new alloy wheels. The wider fascia allows for a lower stance adding to the sporty appeal. On the rear, the tail lamps are more square-ish than the outgoing model, with character lines running across the side and into the tail lamps continuing the Swift’s younger appeal.
Engine and Performance:
This is an important time to remind our readers that the Swift and the Hyundai i20 are not from precisely the same segment. A closer competitor for the i20, which sits at a slight premium to the Swift, is the Baleno. When it comes to petrol motors though, the two become more comparable. In terms of engine specs and the similarities begin to appear as both use engines that are almost exactly 1197 cc and both make about 81 hp. Interestingly, even the torque is matched with 114Nm from the Swift’s motor kicking in at 4000 rpm, while, i20 whose engine is tuned slightly more linear than the Swift makes 113 Nm at a slightly higher 4200 rpm. And that’s about where the similarities end.
The 2018 Elite i20 is about 200 kilos heavier than the Swift which means that the way these two cars perform are polar opposites. The Swift is urgent and more aggressive, whereas the i20 has flatter powerband. The 1.2 litre motor on the Swift is aggressive and has sharp throttle response, the i20 is almost flat-line in terms of performance and feels a bit strained the moment you try to push it hard. As a result, the Swift is more engaging to drive but suffers from comparably higher in-cabin NVH from the motor, while the i20 is not as peppy but offers a more refined drive and delivers enough power for all practical purposes.
Both engines use 5-speed manual gearboxes to transfer power to the front wheels, although, there is not much to report in terms of difference. However, the Swift’s round format gear knob makes for easier use while shifting. The Swift is also available with an optional 5-speed AMT gearbox, where the 2018 Elite i20 is yet to get an automatic option. Although it is safe to say that one will be added to the roster soon enough in the form of a CVT transmission.
Interiors and Build Quality
If Engine performance and the response is Swift territory, interiors is where the i20 stands out. Don’t get me wrong, neither is really lacking in terms of kit. Both the Elite i20 and the Swift get touchscreen infotainment systems with modern user interfaces compatible with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and Mirrorlink. In comparison, to the new Elite i20, the Swift is slightly more spartan. In the sense, that the i20 gets additional features like rear ac vents and a central armrest on the back row of seats that have integrated cup holders.
On the interiors of the new Swift, the Flat-bottom steering wheel takes centre stage, followed by really well-designed seats that do a great job of holding you in place. In essence, form follows function. On the i20 however, it's more about form. The steering wheel is a standard round unit but it’s plush and feels nice to hold. Like the Active i20, you could choose the tones on your interiors in the Elite i20. Black and red and Black and orange options can be picked if the beige and brown standard interiors don’t suit your fancy.
In terms of safety, however, the i20 is a clear winner. At the very top of the line, the i20 gets 6-Airbags whereas the Swift only gets two. ABS is available on both. The i20 gets minor tweaks like follow-me-home lamps, Reverse-cameras with dynamic grid lines and automatic headlamps to ensure it gets more premium features.
In the interest nuance, the ultimate decision between these cars comes down to what appeals to you more. The i20 offers a great selection of feature better space on the interiors, a more luxurious drive with almost unnoticeable NVH levels and far superior safety. All of which justifies it’s premium over the Swift. The Swift, on the other hand, is the driver's car, form follows function the Swift is lighter nimbler around corners and has the grunt that makes it more engaging to drive. If we are to keep score, the 2017 Hyundai Elite i20 wins this on account of the fact that has more in terms of convenience, safety and features and while it may not have a tremendously eager engine it has better damping and cabin comfort. Although all of us though in the office, who hold the vehicle's drive and dynamics above the features and comfort prefer the Maruti Suzuki Swift.