Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 4.67 – 7.24 lakhs (Chevrolet Beat), Rs. 4.74 – 7.45 lakhs (Ford Figo), Rs. 5.00 – 7.39 lakhs (Honda Brio), Rs. 5.13 – 7.76 lakhs (Hyundai Grand i10), Rs. 5.23 – 7.71 lakhs (Maruti Ritz)
Hatchback war sees a new beginning with the arrival of Hyundai’s game changing Grand i10.
Last time we saw a revolution in the hatchback space, it was 2005 when Maruti Suzuki launched the Swift. Thereon quite a few hatchbacks have come, some made an impact, some didn’t but the latest entry into the segment is surely creating a ripple. We are talking about Hyundai’s brilliant new car, the Grand i10 which looks very promising on paper and road alike. After having driven the car multiple times, we had to put it against its nearest rivals to find out who emerges on the top. Cars like the Nissan Micra and Toyota Etios Liva weren’t included for a reason, the former being overpriced while the latter offering not much to the buyer except interior space (poorly equipped). The Chevrolet Beat isn’t a real competitor to the Grand i10 either but it’s the only car in the country which comes with a similar diesel engine (3-cylinder unit), making us include it in the mega hatchback shootout.
Motor Quest: From tin boxes to real hatchbacks, the trend started in 2001 when Fiat launched the Palio in India. More than a decade later, the buyer is totally spoilt for choice.
Styling – These five cars have very different styling. The Hyundai Grand i10 was recently launched and looks the most appealing amongst its rivals. The attention to detail on the car really pays off and that makes it the easy pick in the styling department. The Honda Brio comes in second and the car appears cute. Third place in the styling department gets occupied by the Ford Figo and its recent facelift manages to make it look neutral in appearance, hiding its dated design. The Chevrolet Beat and Maruti Suzuki Ritz have started to show their age and come in fourth and fifth respectively. While Maruti Suzuki only recently gave the Ritz a facelift, the changes were too minimal to make an impact. GM on the other hand have given the Beat a facelift in overseas market and the same model is expected to reach Indian shores next year. However minor changes won’t help Maruti and Chevrolet’s case as their cars are simply a touch too old in front of modern competition.
Interiors – Step inside all these cars and yet again the Hyundai Grand i10 comes across as the best alternative by a significant margin. The Grand i10’s interiors feel a touch above the rest and quality levels are much superior than rivals. All other car’s simply don’t feel in the same league as the Grand i10, whose interiors are so good that a layman might just compare it to a D-segment car. Whether it be fit and finish or equipment levels (rear AC vent, cooled glovebox, keyless entry, button start, 1 GB storage for audio system, electrically retracting rearview mirrors, etc), the Grand i10 simply annihilates others. Even space inside the Grand i10 is much more than what’s seen in the competition. The cluster of the Hyundai is also the easiest to read and carries multi-information display which the others don’t.
Quality levels inside the Chevrolet Beat and Honda Brio are almost on par but the Brio takes the edge for its roomier cabin. The Beat lacks space and we aren’t really a fan of that motorcycle inspired instrument cluster either. The Chevy also doesn’t have the same level of equipment as the others although it comes with a climate control system, it loses out on steering mounted audio controls and electrically adjustable rear view mirrors. The Ritz and Figo both feel dated on the inside although both cars offer decent interior room. The Figo lacks rear power windows, the only car in the segment to not have it even on the top-end model but it’s the only car (along with the Grand i10) to come with Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s only the Maruti Suzuki Ritz and Hyundai Grand i10 which come with a dashboard mounted gear lever which helps in liberating more space near the handbrake. The Grand i10 comes with a lot of storage space on the inside and also boasts of the best rear seat legroom (no claustrophobic feeling sitting in the rear of this hatchback). The Figo might have average plastic quality but it has the heaviest doors and that does make you feel it’s built like a tank. The Ford Figo also leads when it comes to boot space, offering 284-litres with the Grand i10 coming in second at 256-litres. The Ritz, Brio and Beat offer 236-litres, 175-litres and 170-litres respectively. In terms of front visibility, the Grand i10 is the best, in terms of AC performance the Figo outperforms the others while in terms of cabin airiness, the Brio comes out on top. However, it’s the Grand i10 which is the overall winner in the interiors round.
Performance – All these five cars come with the option of either a petrol or diesel engine (except the Brio which doesn’t get a diesel motor). Let’s talk about the petrol engines first which incidentally in all these cars are 1.2-litre units. The Chevrolet Beat and Ford Figo share last place because their petrol engines don’t offer good enough performance compared to the other three cars here. The Figo is the least powerful car here with just 71 PS and 102 Nm of output. However the saving grace is the sound from the motor which feels exciting at high revs but the car doesn’t really move that quickly. The Beat’s engine lacks mid-range and low-end performance is adequate while it does rev rather freely to its redline but sounds coarse there. With 80.5 PS and 108 Nm on offer, the Beat is the second least powerful car in this shootout.
The Grand i10, Brio and Ritz finish closely when it comes to overall engine performance between the three. The K-Series engine in the Ritz (87 PS, 115 Nm), Kappa motor in the Grand i10 (83 PS, 114 Nm) and i-VTEC powerplant in the Brio (88 PS, 109 Nm) stand apart from the Beat’s SMARTECH mill and Figo’s Duratec motor. While the Grand i10’s engine offers good low-end and mid-range performance, it isn’t comfortable at high revs where the Brio shines. The Honda isn’t the best in low-end performance but does well in the mid-range and the Ritz is similar too, offering good mid and high-end performance, very Japanese of both. The Grand i10 is the more drivable car in the city but the other too are more fun on the highway. All cars come with 5-speed manual transmissions. The Beat’s gearbox is a bit notchy while the Figo, Ritz and Grand i10 offer smooth shifts and the Brio the smoothest of the three. The Brio and Ritz come with the option of an autobox and the Brio is the better of the two with its 5-speed AT over the 4-speed box in the Ritz which is a tad noisy. Overall when it comes to petrol engines, the Honda Brio wins but only just.
Coming to the diesels, the Beat and Grand i10 come with 3-cylinder diesel engines while the Ritz and Figo use 4-cylinder diesel engines. The Beat is the least powerful with 58.5 PS and 150 Nm while the Grand i10 belts out 71 PS and 158 Nm. Both cars offer good city drivability but the Grand i10 is the better between the two, thanks to the higher output and fantastic NVH levels. In fact the NVH levels on the Grand i10 is so good, it’s easily the best among the four cars here. The diesel Figo produces 69 PS and 160 Nm and in spite of modest figures on paper, it has extremely good city and highway performance whereas the Grand i10 excels in the city and feels a bit underpowered on the highway. The Ritz is in a class of its own, although it has considerable turbolag, it’s very fast with 75 PS and 190 Nm on tap. This makes the Ritz the most fun to drive diesel car which also has the best gearbox here. In terms of gearbox, other’s aren’t far behind the Ritz with the Grand i10 and Figo being almost on par and the Beat coming in last.
Driving Dynamics – Ride quality is more important for a buyer of this segment than outright handling. The Honda Brio doesn’t have the best ride quality here with the suspension setup being on the stiffer side. The ride quality is good but the Brio tends to get unsettled on bad roads very quickly. The Beat on the other hand offers a very plaint ride and absorbs most of the bumps without transferring much to the cabin. The Ritz is also very complaint over bad roads but tends to bounce a bit at high speeds. The Grand i10’s ride quality is excellent and again it’s the real bad roads which tend to unsettle it. However the Figo, although on the stiffer side, rides the best in the segment, what ever the road surface be. The Grand i10 is the easiest to manoeuvre thanks to its light steering while the Beat and Brio aren’t far behind.
In terms of handling, while the Beat and Grand i10 offer neutral behaviour, the Ritz is the more involving of the three but body roll is present. The Brio is extremely chuck-able into corners and you can really enjoy driving the car enthusiastically. However, yet again, the Ford Figo emerges on top in the dynamics departments with the best handling among the five cars. The steering is simply a joy to use, the hydraulic unit is heavy at low speeds (all other cars here use electric steerings except the Beat) and weighs up beautifully at high speeds. Even high speed stability in the Figo is the best while the other cars feel reasonably composed at high speeds. In terms of braking performance, the Figo and Grand i10 are evenly matched while the Beat, Ritz and Brio aren’t far behind. Overall, the Figo is easily the winner in the dynamics department.
After Sales Service and Mileage – Maintenance is of crucial importance for a hatchback buyer but between all these cars here, there is little to choose in terms of spare costs. While the Ritz has the cheapest spares, the advantage is minuscule and Hyundai has really closed the gap in maintenance costs. The Figo and Beat are also very cheap to live with and Ford offers child parts which further reduces cost of replacement while GM offers 3-years service holiday. The Brio isn’t much expensive either but is still costlier than the others. Due to the volumes in this segment, all companies have localised parts heavily which helps in cheaper cost of upkeep. In terms of mileage for the petrol models, the Grand i10 comes out on top with 18.9 km/l against the Beat’s 18.61 km/l, Ritz’ 18.5 km/l, Brio’s 18.4 km/l and Figo’s 15.6 km/l. In terms of automatic, the Ritz AT returns 17.6 km/l against the Brio AT’s 15.6 km/l. When it comes to diesels, the Beat emerges on top with a mileage of 25.44 km/l against the Grand i10’s 24 km/l, Ritz’ 23.2 km/l and Figo’s 20 km/l (all ARAI figures).
Verdict – When the Beat was launched, it was a formidable car but GM’s ignorance towards the product has made it wash out in front of more modern competition, it finishes last. The Maruti Suzuki Ritz might have best powerplants in its engine bay but in other departments it simply doesn’t come close to its rivals and feels just about average. It finishes fourth. The top three can be seen in the picture above. The Ford Figo has brilliant dynamics only let down by its average quality, dated design and below average petrol engine which is the least efficient here. The Honda Brio finishes second and the car delivers heavily on many fronts like engine performance, handling, easy of use, etc. However there is one clear winner and it’s no surprise. The Hyundai Grand i10 has come and made a big impact already. The car offers class leading interior space, features and quality which are primary for a buyer of this segment. While the other cars are capable in their own regard, they heavily fall short when compared to Hyundai’s latest and that puts it on the top in this shootout.
The Hyundai Grand i10 simply feels a generation up over its rivals and that’s thanks to the modern interiors, generous equipment list and fantastic quality. The value for money is just the icing on the cake and that’s what makes it the hatchback to buy today.
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