The Hyundai Grand i10 is finally in its latest generation and is called the Nios. Can it match up to the bestseller of the segment, the Maruti Suzuki Swift? Only one way to find out.
The Maruti Swift has always been the go-to car for families all across the country upgrading from a small hatchback. Because not only does it offer great practicality, space and value, it is fun to drive as well, keeping all the members of the family happy. However, the Grand i10 has always held the quality card over the Swift. In its latest avatar, can it really offer ‘more’ than the Swift?
Between these two, picking one based on looks alone is quite tricky. While the Swift is slightly larger all around and looks more subtle, the Nios looks more quirky and stylish. The Nios even gets roof rails to help it look a bit taller.
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios
Maruti Suzuki Swift
Both of them pack the same exterior features like projector headlamps, LED DRLs, fog lamps and 15-inch alloy wheels. But where the Swift gets LED headlamps, the Nios gets projector fog lamps. At the back, the swift packs LED taillamps and light guides, whereas the Nios seems to have taken design inspiration from the Tata Tiago.
Overall, the Swift definitely looks sportier and has a more prominent stance. Parked next to each other, it's the Swift which looks slightly larger. But if you are looking for a modern design, it's going to be the Nios.
Interior and Features
The Swift’s all-black cabin feels naturally sporty. It gets a tilted centre console, flat-bottom steering and sporty dials to make eager drivers feel at home. Even the seats are well contoured and hold you in place during your Hamilton moments.
Not just sporty, the cabin is practical too. You get lots of storage in the centre console, 2 cup holders and bottle holders in all doors.
The plastic quality and the fit/finish still remains the Achilles heel. The quality feels sub par, especially compared to something as polished as the Nios.
In terms of features, you get all the essentials like a touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic climate control, all power windows, and internally adjustable and foldable ORVMs. But the Swift takes a step ahead of the Nios by offering automatic headlamps and one-touch up/down driver window switch.
Step inside the Nios after the Swift and you feel like you are in a more expensive car. The quality of materials, finish of the plastics and the light fabric upholstery make for an excellent cabin experience.
The hexagonal pattern on the dashboard gets a satin-like finish and feels premium to the touch. In fact, all the touch points are better finished and deliver a segment-above experience. What further improves the cabin ambiance is the multicolor backlight for the centre console.
The seats, however, are not as supportive as the Swift. Plus you don't get adjustable headrests in the front, However, I doubt the fixed ones will make you feel uncomfortable. This gives a distinct advantage for the rear seat passengers, but we will get to that a bit later.
In terms of features, the touchscreen here roughly the same size and packs the same features, but is a lot smoother and and gets physical button for quick operations. Plus you get a wireless charger, rear AC vents and a cooled glovebox which makes the cabin a lot more convenient.
What I don't like in the cabin is the shortage of space to store knick-knacks and the dull-looking instrument cluster.
The Swift was always faulted for its cabin quality. Yes, it is still highly practical and feels very sporty, but just can't match up to the freshness, equipment and the quality of the Nios.
Even at the back, the experience is better in the Nios. The light cabin upholstery, a more relaxed recline angle and better visibility all around make it considerably better to be in for longer journeys. The passengers here also enjoy dedicated AC vents.
Even in terms of the space, the Nios offers more leg and knee room than the Swift. It's only in the cabin width that the Swift gets an advantage. But in terms of seating three at the back, it’s neck and neck.
The Swift’s all-black interiors, smaller rear windows (cut short by the high-mounted door handles) and the extra large front headrests make the rear passengers feel caved in. Even the backrest angle is a bit steep and could bother passengers on longer drives.
If you are looking to spend long hours in the back seat, the Nios is the pick.
On paper, the difference is dismal but a larger boot floor means the Swift can engulf large suitcases with ease. Dial in the 60:40 split rear seat and the Swift is easily a better car for loading a lot of luggage.
The India-specific Swift scored 2 stars in the GNCAP crash test back in 2018. The Grand i10 Nios hasn't been tested yet.
On the features front, both get two airbags, ABS with EBD as well as parking sensors as standard. The Swift goes one step further to offer ISOFIX child seat mounts as well.
It terms of the build, the Hyundai feels more solidly put together than the Maruti.
Engine and Performance
Both cars get a 1.2-litre petrol engine under the hood along with a 5-speed manual shifter in the cabin. But the two deliver very different experiences.
Start driving the Swift and all the sporty interior buildup starts to make a lot of sense. The K12 petrol engine loves to rev and despite a tall gearing, pulls fast and cleanly upto 5500 rpm. It's quite refined as well and much at ease even when you are pushing it around. The throaty note, sharp steering and short gear throws only amplify the experience.
Even in city conditions, the engine delivers a smooth drive. There is ample torque at lower revs to stay in bumper to bumper traffic and the light clutch keeps you fatigue free.
On the highway the Swift does 100kmph at 2800rpm and stays pretty calm, with a lot of juice left for even fast overtakes. The split-personality of this engine is what makes it a delight to drive in all conditions.
30-80kmph (3rd Gear)
40-100kmph (4th Gear)
This rev-happy nature makes the Swift is slightly faster to 100kmph than the Nios, but considerably faster when it comes to in-gear accelerations.
Despite being faster, the Swift delivers 16.10kmpl in the city and 22.43kmpl on the highway, making it more efficient than the Nios, which delivers 15.12kmpl and 18.82kmpl respectively.
The Nios’ engine packs ample punch for the city and feels refined and at home between bumpers. But it starts to feel stressed at higher revs. This makes it sound a feel a bit harsh, taking away from the overall refined experience. It keeps close to 3000 rpm on the highway which takes a toll on the efficiency as well.
Overall, the Swift is the better car to drive, irrespective of the conditions.
Ride and handling
Complementing the sporty nature of the engine is the suspension setup for the Swift. It’s set up a bit stiff and is something you will have to learn to adopt on bad roads.
It transfers a fair bit of the road’s surface inside the cabin at low speeds. You will also have to slow down a fair bit over speed breakers and potholes. But at higher speeds, it remains more in control and composed.
Show the Swift good tarmac and it will plaster a smile on your face. The steering offers good feel and feedback, and the chassis is equipped to follow the front tyres. There is plenty of grip as well (despite our test car wearing worn-out JK rubber) and the Swift will be loved by the enthusiast.
The Nios, on the other hand, has a softer suspension setup. It tackles bad roads and potholes with ease and keeps the occupants away from any and all harshness. The only time it gets uncomfortable is when you go over a bump at higher speeds.
Nios’ steering is well-weighted but doesn't quite offer the same feedback as the Swift. Hence, while it's easy to manoeuvre in the city or on the highway, it doesn't communicate the tyre grip well in corners. Body roll too is more prevalent here.
The Maruti Swift has all the traits which make it a perfect all-rounder. Its practicality, features and the superb engine makes it a car which can be enjoyed by every member of the family. And if you clock a lot of kilometres, the higher mileage will certainly give you a big advantage as well. And if you are an enthusiast, it still is a no brainer.
But the Nios is surely offering more for the family, if not to the driver. The better quality of the cabin, features, seats and build does make it a segment above experience. And what seals the deal is the fact that it gets all of this for Rs 40,000 less than the Swift (Grand i10 Nios Asta: 7.14 lakh; Swift ZXI+: 7.53 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi). Yes, the engine response could have made it an unbeatable package, but still if you are looking for an ideal family hatchback, the Grand i10 Nios is hard to fault.