• slider image
  • slider image
  • slider image
  • slider image
1 / 0

Hyundai Grand i10 vs Ford Figo vs Toyota Etios Liva vs Maruti Ritz

27th Nov 2013 9:30 pm

Hyundai's impressive in-betweener has three segment stalwarts to answer to.

AD

The Hyundai Grand i10 has taken the market by surprise by positioning itself in a price range that entices two sub-segments. But is it worth considering over any of the other capable cars you see in this comparison?

Finding the ingredients that make for a great diesel hatchback is easy. You need fuel economy, space, good styling, features and a bit of performance too. The hard part is blending these ingredients in the right proportions to arrive at a value-for-money package that best appeals to buyers. Hyundai believes it has got the recipe just right with its new Grand i10, which has been specifically created for the Indian market.

But it’ll need to fend off some competition in order to bag the title of class leader. In the Grand’s way stands the Ford Figo, Toyota Etios Liva and Maruti Ritz. Time to find out what’s what.

SUPERSIZING

Styling is where Hyundai has once again hit the nail on the head – the Grand i10 is great to look at. However, it is more conservatively styled than some of its siblings. The lines are crisp and neat, with nothing too over the top. The Grand looks like a grown-up i10, the swept-back headlamps and the massive chin with its hexagonal grille make it look appealing. Move to the side, and you’ll notice a thick strip of black cladding along the doors, which initially seems a bit out of place, but it does draw your attention away from the car’s elongated dimensions. The shoulder line that flows from the swept-back headlamps to the stylish tail-lights gives this car a mildly sporty appearance.

In comparison, the Figo, Liva and Ritz have now started to look outdated. The facelift the Figo was given a year ago – a restyled bumper, headlights and grille and new alloy wheels – improved its appeal, but only marginally. There’s no escaping the sensation that this is a much older car; it is based on the old Fiesta’s platform, after all.

Toyota’s products have never really stood out in terms of design and the Liva is a testament to this. It’s nicely proportioned but conservatively designed, even by Toyota’s standards. The top diesel GD trim also misses some styling elements that are on the top petrol V trim, like the body skirts and alloy wheels.

The Maruti Ritz was given a facelift just over a year ago as well and a new ZDi top-end diesel variant was added, which is the one we’ll be focussing on for this comparison. It now features a slightly altered and lower nose with a ‘one-piece’ grille. The fenders now rise above the bonnet V, the headlights are sharper, and the interiors have been mildly tweaked as well, and all this has gone some way in making the car more appealing.

Toyota’s products have never really stood out in terms of design and the Liva is a testament to this. It’s nicely proportioned but conservatively designed, even by Toyota’s standards. The top diesel GD trim also misses some styling elements that are on the top petrol V trim, like the body skirts and alloy wheels. 

The Maruti Ritz was given a facelift just over a year ago as well and a new ZDi top-end diesel variant was added, which is the one we’ll be focussing on for this comparison. It now features a slightly altered and lower nose with a ‘one-piece’ grille. The fenders now rise above the bonnet V, the headlights are sharper, and the interiors have been mildly tweaked as well, and all this has gone some way in making the car more appealing.

INSIDER’S VIEW

Step inside the Grand i10 and you’re instantly impressed by the quality in the cabin, especially when you compare it to the other cars in this test. The chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel feels like it could belong to a Hyundai Elantra. It’s got steering-mounted controls that are well thought out; Hyundai has assigned larger buttons to functions you’d use most often. The top half of the dash is finished in high-quality black plastic and the bottom half uses toffee-beige plastics which feel premium to touch. The air-con controls have a nice knurled finish, but feel a bit clunky to operate. The dash-mounted gearlever again looks top quality with its glass and metal finish; it has a nice short throw too. The seats are set a tad low and the dashboard is quite high, so it’s a good thing you get seat height adjustment.

Move to the rear and legroom is pretty good. The Grand i10’s wheelbase is 40mm longer than the standard i10, and this has freed up much more legroom. Thigh support is decent and the seatback is nicely reclined, adding to overall comfort. The Grand i10 is the first in this segment to come with rear AC vents, but the air throw isn’t really effective and this seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. It isn’t the widest car either, so if you’re trying to seat three, they’re definitely going to be uncomfortable, and the unnecessary air-con vent is a bit obtrusive too. However, it’s the attention to the smaller details that sets this car above the rest, more so when you look at the price range and the other cars in this category.

The revised Liva sees many improvements in the cabin that have gone a long way to make the car feel much more appealing, but that’s when you compare it to the older version. Even on the updated car, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a cabin that’s been designed by an accountant rather than an engineer – signs of cost cutting are hard to miss. That said, it’s a very practical cabin. There are plenty of cubbyholes for storage, it’s got a nice big glovebox and the seats are accommodating and comfortable. In fact, we’d rate the seats the best in this test for overall comfort. Also, at 1,695mm, it’s the widest car here, so if you’re travelling with three in the back, they’re going to be the most comfortable in the Liva. All the other cars come with steering controls (although the Figo uses a steering column-mounted stalk), but not the Liva diesel. You will, however, get them on the petrol Liva’s higher V variant, which is much better equipped.

The Figo’s cabin won’t blow you away either. In fact, it feels the most dated of the four. The plastics have a tough and hard-wearing feel about them, but they don’t feel premium. The dashboard is neatly styled and it’s easy to get used to the controls. The audio control stalk does take a little getting used to, and if you’re tall, your knees will end up hitting the stalks quite often. The Figo’s large glass area offers fantastic all-round visibility, but we wish the front seats were more comfortable. The driver’s seat adjuster only varies the angle of the seat base, which is not enough, especially if you’re not very tall. The rear seats are quite wide and comfortable, but the cushioning is not the best and the angled roof means that headroom isn’t great either. And the Figo still doesn’t come with electric rear windows, and that will be an issue for some buyers. Something worth mentioning is the Figo’s fantastic air-con, which is clearly the most effective in this test.

Getting in and out of the Ritz is easy thanks to its tall-boy design. The dual-tone interiors lift the cabin ambience, and if you think the red and black combination looks a bit tacky, a more sober black and grey combination is available as well. There’s a new audio system that gets USB connectivity, but no Bluetooth. There’s steering-mounted controls, driver’s seat height adjustment, keyless entry and electrically adjustable mirrors. You’re sat high in the driver’s seat and overall visibility is good, but not as good as in the Figo. A big drawback on the Ritz is rear-seat legroom, which is the poorest of the four cars.

All four of these cars come with steering tilt adjustment and driver’s seat height adjustment, but none of them get automatic climate control. They all come with USB slots, but the Liva and Ritz don’t get Bluetooth. The Liva, Figo and Ritz get ABS and two airbags as standard on their top trims. However, the Grand i10 is the only one where they are a Rs 4,000 paid option even on the top Asta trim; our test car has them equipped, however. The Figo has the largest boot in this test at 284 litres, but all of the other cars have fairly decent-sized boots by hatchback standards. 

UNDER THE HOOD

The Grand i10 sees the debut of a new small-capacity diesel engine. The 70bhp 1,120cc ‘U2’ is Hyundai’s first locally produced three-cylinder diesel engine, and is essentially the 1.4-litre unit from the i20 with one cylinder less. Three-cylinder engines, though fuel efficient, are prone to vibrations at low engine speeds. However, in the Grand, the vibrations exist only at idle, and smoothen out really well on the move. This is an engine that’s comfortable at city speeds; keep the motor in the 1,500-3,000rpm range and performance is good. It’s only when you get closer to 4,000rpm that the engine really loses steam. It isn’t the strongest performer despite making the most power of all the cars here, and in fact, the car takes a slow 20.25sec to get to 100kph. But the figures don’t tell you the whole story. This engine is tuned for the city and it never feels out of breath in urban conditions. In fact, it feels much peppier than the Ritz (which is the most powerful car here) and on par with the Figo. Refinement on the go is also pretty good, but it’s got none of the torque and punchiness of the Ritz or the Liva’s motors. So enthusiast drivers might not enjoy this engine as much, but for a regular car buyer, this is easily one of the best small cars to drive in the city.

Ford tweaked the engine calibration on the 1.4-litre diesel to make the low and mid ranges more responsive. It’s an improvement, but not so much that it’s instantly noticeable. We’ve always liked the Figo’s responsive 1,399cc Duratorq motor, and it’s still the most fun car to drive in this test. There’s less lag at low speeds and the engine feels a tad more responsive now. The gearing is well matched to the engine’s power and torque characteristics, and the Figo pulls quite well from low speeds. The mid-range is decent too, but like most diesel motors, it runs out of steam at high revs. This common-rail motor is relatively smooth and vibe-free and is one of the quieter diesels in this test. The gearbox is easy to use and the gates are well defined. In fact, the Figo’s ’box has a nice mechanical feel that is sure to appeal to enthusiasts. The only fly in the ointment is its lack of outright performance. It’s an otherwise great mechanical package,
but just lacks the punch to make it a real driver’s car, taking a rather leisurely 16.33sec to breach the 100kph mark.

The quickest car here is the unassuming Ritz, which does the same sprint in a relatively brisk 15.18sec. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s powered by the same engine as the Swift. But while this punchy engine is a hoot on the highways, the turbo lag below 2,000rpm makes it feel a lot more laidback than the others in the city. You will find yourself working the gearbox a lot more often, hunting for that meaty mid-range, and this can be a tiring exercise on a daily basis.

The Liva, just like the Grand i10, is a good city car. Acceleration is smooth, linear and stronger than the Hyundai’s right from when you set off. Toyota has tailored the car for stop-go traffic, which explains the light steering and clutch (although neither is as light as the Grand i10’s). The Liva’s engine is decently quiet and Toyota has worked on lowering noise levels with improved sound deadening material, but the motor does start getting a bit vocal as the revs build. In city conditions, you’ll never be left wanting for power, and in fact this is where this car feels most comfortable to drive. The Liva’s 1,364cc, four-cylinder motor makes 68bhp, but it makes the second most in terms of torque at 17.33kgm. It’s the Ritz again that makes the most torque in this test. The Liva gets to 100kph in 15.86sec, which is decent in this company. Gears are easy to slot, and coupled with the refined motor, light steering and clutch, it’s a stress free and capable city runabout. 

RIDE OF PASSAGE

If there’s one thing Hyundai hasn’t really mastered, it’s finding a good ride-handling balance. The sloppy road manners of the Verna and the fidgety i20 are testimony to this. However, the Grand i10 is a huge improvement by Hyundai’s standards. It feels more sorted and the well judged damping does a good job of dealing with speed breakers and patchy roads, but the suspension will crash over sharp bumps and potholes.

The Hyundai isn’t a car you’ll want to drive enthusiastically; there’s a bit of body roll around corners and the light steering doesn’t help things either. That said, the steering isn’t as vague as other Hyundais and there’s a bit more weight, especially at high speeds, but there’s still an inconsistency to the way it weighs up and it’s nowhere near as accurate as the other cars here.

The Liva’s ride is better sorted, but it does feel a bit jiggly over uneven surfaces. The Toyota is a good highway cruiser, staying comfortable for the most part with a flat and consistent poise and giving the driver loads of confidence at speed. It is pretty nimble for its size and is easy to punt around town, thanks to a tight turning circle and super-light electric steering.

However, those looking for fun behind the wheel will be hugely disappointed with the steering’s lack of feel and rather slow turning speed. That’s quite a shame since the steering wheel itself is the sportiest bit of the car.

In terms of ride and handling, the Ritz leaves a bit to be desired. Vibrations and thumps easily filter through and its top-heavy, tall-boy design is affected by crosswinds too. On the plus side, we found the steering to be quite accurate and a lot more predictable than the Grand’s.

The Figo offers the finest balance between ride and handling. The suspension has the right amount of suppleness to absorb bumps without getting unsettled, and it functions silently most of the time. The car feels planted at all speeds and only sharp bumps filter into the cabin. The Figo lives up to Ford’s image of making cars that handle well. The old-school hydraulic steering is slightly heavy at parking speeds but weighs up nicely as speeds increase, offering good communication from the road. The brakes are effective, but need extra effort on the pedal to shed speed quickly. All in all, if you love to drive, this is the car for you.

VERDICT

Compact car buyers are a spoilt lot today. Not long ago, a no-nonsense, bare-bones spacious hatchback would have done well, but now it’s all about looks, features and the attention to the little things that sets cars apart. In the race to woo customers, manufacturers have packed features that once belonged in cars upwards of Rs 15 lakh into compact hatches.

All four of these cars have what buyers are looking for in some combination or the other. The Ritz has well built interiors and the punchiest motor here. It’s the second most expensive though, at Rs 6.33 lakh, and it’s a bit long in the tooth now. The shortage of rear seat legroom is another downer too.

The refreshed Liva is the most comfortable car in this test, and at Rs 5.99 lakh, it’s the cheapest too, but not necessarily the best value. It still feels built to a price and the fact that the top diesel trim misses out on a lot of equipment that the top petrol version gets adds to its spartan feel.

The Figo has a lot going for it. Its price may have inched up since it was launched, but at Rs 6.15 lakh, it’s still the second cheapest here. It’s easily the most fun to drive and hugely practical with a spacious cabin and the largest boot, but you can’t help but feel that it’s a bit dated now.

The winner here is the Grand i10 and, might we add, by a decent margin. No doubt, it has its weak points; the small engine doesn’t have the breadth of performance of the others and it also feels half a class smaller. However, it does everything else so well that you tend to overlook its faults.

The small Hyundai has the best interiors by far and the attention to detail makes it feel more expensive than it is. It’s the easiest to drive in the city thanks to a responsive engine and light controls, whilst the comfortable cabin (for four) and large boot make it a practical family car.

At Rs 6.45 lakh, the Grand i10 is the most expensive of this lot, but when you tot up all that you get, it’s money well spent.

Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.


Tell us what you think.