Hyundai Grand i10 Nios vs Maruti Suzuki Swift vs Ford Figo: Diesel Manual Comparison

Published On Sep 25, 2019 By Arun for Hyundai Grand i10 Nios 2019-2023

Small diesel hatchbacks give you a compact footprint mixed with the bonus of low running costs. Which one should you put your money on? 

Hyundai’s Grand i10 Nios brings with it an interesting question - is it the best small diesel hatchback you can buy right now? Both Maruti Suzuki’s Swift and Ford’s Figo have held that title in the past. With the new Nios, Hyundai is asking serious questions of both of them. It’s priced slap bang in the middle — around Rs 45,000 more than the Figo and about as much less than the Swift, making the riddle a little more exciting. Let’s start with the basics. 

Starting Small

Hyundai’s idea of making its cars half a size smaller than the competition seems puzzling. Parked alongside the Swift and the Figo, the Nios’ lack of size is apparent. It has some wow elements in the form of machine-finished alloy wheels and the boomerang-shaped daytime running lamps, but it doesn’t particularly stand out in any manner. 

Hyundai Grand i10 Nios

Maruti Suzuki Swift

Ford Figo


















That’s the Maruti’s forte, with its purposeful stance and ready-to-go attitude. It’s the tallest and the widest here, and also looks the sportiest of the lot. In spite of the design being a couple of years old, it still manages to catch the eye. We have to point out that the paint quality on the Swift isn’t exactly great. The paint on our nearly two-year-old test car had begun to show signs of fading already.

Ford’s Figo makes an honest attempt at looking sporty too. The blacked-out wheels, wide tyres and that squat stance give the Figo oomph. Sure, the blue accents are going to be a hit or miss, but we prefer it over the chrome in the lower variants for sure.  Also, we believe the Ford is now showing its age. A new generation couldn’t come any sooner! 

Stepping In, Stepping Up! 

Inside the cabin, the Nios is setting benchmarks in the segment. For starters, the quality of materials used for the dashboard and the door pads and even the kind of fabric used for the seats  feel rich and from a segment above. In fact, it’s pretty close to the Elite i20, and that’s saying something. Yes, the design isn’t something you’d go gaga over, but you will most definitely be surprised at the amount of room on offer. 

Despite the tiny footprint, the Nios has the most amount of usable kneeroom at the rear. Hyundai has cleverly used a dashboard that doesn’t intrude into cabin space too much, letting the front seat occupants sit further ahead. That said, we can’t really wrap our heads around why Hyundai insists on offering non-adjustable front headrest. The seats themselves are quite supportive, and only large people will be left wanting for more seat space. But by lengthening the rear seat squab and raising the angle, they’ve managed to mitigate the issue of under-thigh support as well. It’s key to note that the Nios is the only vehicle here that offers rear-AC vents as well as a 12V charging socket for the rear occupants. 

Where the Nios doesn’t feel like a step up (in isolation and compared to the Grand i10) is in the width department. It’s still a four-seater in our books; a little more width inside the cabin would’ve gone a long way. We say this since with the light grey/black dual-tone theme, the cabin feels airy and large. 

In the Swift, you get the maximum width to seat three abreast. A small hiccup comes in the form of a small hump on the floor that intrudes into the foot room for the middle occupant. You’d notice that the Swift compromises function for form. For instance, in order to position the rear door handle near the C-pillar, the glass area has been made smaller. Combine that with the sloping roofline, and it’s not surprising that one feels hemmed inside. But should you want to be in the driver’s seat of the Swift all the time, you'd be pleased to know it’s got the widest and the most comfortable front seats of the trio.

Maruti isn’t really pushing the envelope in terms of quality either. Yes, it’s a step up compared to that of the older Swift for sure. But with the Nios in the equation, it feels all the more scratchy and budget-grade than before. In line with the hatch’s sporty image, the dashboard is driver-oriented and the cabin has black everywhere, with a few dull grey elements thrown in for contrast. 

Ford’s trying something similar with the Figo Blu. While lower variants feature a beige/black combination, the top-spec Blu gets an all-black theme with some blue accents, contrast stitching and ‘Blu’ moniker on the seats. While all of this is a welcome change, the interior design does feel a bit 2015 now. Hard, grainy plastic has been used liberally, making the dashboard feel budget-grade. Also, since the dash is large, it eats away into some valuable passenger space. 

The front seats have a massive travel range, almost to the point where they can become unusable. It’s worth mentioning that the seats themselves are narrow and support could’ve been better too. In the rear seat, the Figo doesn’t impress all that much. Set the seat for an average adult, however, and you’d have just about enough room. Also, the front seats are raised, which means the rails intrude into foot room at the rear while the base of the seat will foul against the shin too. 

It’s got the smallest boot too at 257 litres. The Nios is marginally better at 260 litres, and the Swift betters that with 268 litres. While this difference seems nominal on paper, the Swift’s boot is deep and wide, letting you store a lot more than the extra eight litres would have you believe. For example, the Swift happily swallowed a full sized suitcase, an overnighter and two soft bags. The Nios followed by accommodating a medium sized suitcase, an overnighter and two softbags. On the other hand, the Figo’s shallow boot could manage only a full sized suitcase along with an overnighter or a medium sized suitcase, an over nighter and a soft bag. It’s also the only one to feature 60:40 split seats, which bumps up its versatility quotient a fair bit. 

Bang For Buck

In their respective top-spec variants, all three cars offer tilt-adjustable steering, driver seat height adjust, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. There’s also keyless entry and push-button start to be had on all three. On the safety front, dual airbags and ABS with EBD are offered as standard across the range too. All three feature touchscreen infotainment systems as well. But, where the Hyundai gets an 8-inch screen, the other two make do with smaller 7-inch units. Do note that it’s only the Ford that does not offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. 

The Grand i10 Nios edges ahead in the features department, being the only one that offers projector fog lamps, wireless charging, a chilled glovebox and rear-AC vents. We think it would have been an even stronger package if it offered an auto-dimming IRVM and automatic headlamps, considering they’re relatively inexpensive feature additions. 

Maruti isn’t offering anything groundbreaking with the Swift. That said, it has the basics covered, and covered well. You wouldn’t really miss anything. But you get some unique elements in the form of LED lighting for the headlamps and automatic headlamps. 

Ford’s taken a different approach. Save for auto headlamps and wipers, it’s not giving you the pizzazz of features. But it’s assuring an additional layer of safety with side and curtain airbags. That it doesn’t have daytime running lamps, projector headlamps or a fancy instrument cluster seems rather insignificant when you factor that in. Also, it’s key to note that the top-spec Blu variant is closer in terms of pricing to the (one below top) Sportz and Z variants of the Nios and Swift respectively. And it doesn’t miss out on anything substantial at that price point. Move lower down the variant list, and the Titanium packs an even harder punch compared to the Magna and V variants. 

Diesel Driven

Maruti Swift

Hyundai Grand i10 Nios

Ford Figo





Quarter mile

18.44s@ 118.80 kmph

18.71s@ 114.70kmph

17.46s@ 126.85kmph

30-80kmph (3rd gear)




40-100kmph (4th gear)




Speaking of punching hard, that’s the feeling you get when you drive the Figo diesel hard. With an extra 25PS and 25Nm compared to the Swift and the Nios, it’s not surprising to see the Ford scamper to 100kmph in the least amount of time. The torque surge can get addictive, especially on the highway where you’d want to simply floor the accelerator and enjoy the performance the engine has to offer. It’s also efficient on the highway, returning nearly 26kmpl on our test runs. In case you wanted a compact car predominantly for highway runs, the Figo should be on top of your list. 

With the facelift, the Figo gets a new gearbox that’s ironed out the big bugbear of rubbery shifts. What’s not been ironed out sadly, is the turbo lag. Below 1500rpm, where you’re likely to be when driving inside the city, the engine feels lethargic and slow to respond. You have to shift down to get quick acceleration. The downside here is that the torque comes in a strong surge, forcing you to upshift almost immediately. Then, there’s the slightly heavy long-travel clutch — that too will contribute to tiring you out on day-to-day commutes. 

The Nios saves you the fatigue with its light clutch, steering and gear throws. On the move, the engine is smooth and refined too. It sounds gruff at idle, and the vibrations can be felt too. But they disappear as soon as you accelerate. What’s more, it doesn’t mind being in a higher gear at a lower speed. Yes, progress is about as brisk as the other two in third gear (30-80kmph), but it’s noticeably peppier in fourth from 40-100kmph. This makes the Hyundai our pick for heavy city duties. There’s no separating the three cars in terms of city fuel efficiency anyway. 

Also, the Nios’ city-bias is evident when you take it for a spin on the highway. It’s at ease ambling along at 100-120kmph all day long. But should you want more from the engine, you will have to downshift. The same goes for overtakes as well since it takes a while if you try to accelerate in fifth gear. It also proved to be the least efficient on the highway, where numbers barely went up from its city figure. 

It’s in this department that the Swift simply shines. With over 27kmpl on the highway, the Maruti Suzuki ensures your wallet remains fat. This engine has been around for nearly a decade, and every time we drive it, it’s like revisiting an old friend. It’s just the right balance between everyday usability and highway performance. Save for the want of a little more power when you’re driving enthusiastically, the Swift diesel doesn’t really leave you wanting. 

There’s also the fabled turbo lag under 2000rpm, which will force you to downshift inside the city. Just not as much or often as the Figo. Should you choose to not downshift and pull within gear, the Swift feels more eager to do so as well. 

Finally, we’re glad that the Swift hasn’t forgotten its roots. It still is the most fun to drive around a set of corners owing to its lightness and quick steering. Surprisingly, the Hyundai too feels involving around the corners: being light on its feet and eager to turn in. In comparison to the Nios, the Figo’s steering feels slightly heavy for cornering. That’s not to say it’s not engaging to drive, though! 

That said, the Nios prefers you to take it easy so it can pamper you with a comfortable ride. At slow speeds, the Nios manages to tackle the bumps without letting it affect occupants too much. Both the Swift and the Figo feel a bit harsh when they attack the potholes, making sure you hear them. But where the Maruti settles quickly, the Ford bounces around a little before regaining composure. On the highway, there’s no separating the Swift or the Figo. Both feel composed and give you the confidence to hold triple-digit speeds. The Nios, on the other hand, feels slightly bouncy here, especially for rear seat occupants. 

Pick One

With the Figo, Ford is pushing the envelope in terms of safety. That’s something we’d factor in heavily before making a decision. Yes, it’s missing a few features here and there, but in the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. It also offers solid value, undercutting the Nios by half a lakh, and the Swift by nearly a full lakh. The real issues with the Figo, then, come in the form of a cramped rear seat, interior quality and ease of use within the city. Even though it’s immensely capable, it is definitely showing its age. 

Maruti Suzuki’s Swift offers a nice balance between smiles per miles, and miles per rupee. It’s engaging to drive and the efficiency just makes the package a whole lot more tempting. Other positives include the ability to seat three abreast at the rear and a big boot. Yes, it’s not doing anything substantial in the features department and the build quality isn’t going to please everyone either. But if you factor in what you get versus what you pay, the Swift diesel does seem overpriced. 

And that leaves us with the winner of this comparison test — the Grand i10 Nios. With this little hatch, Hyundai has raised our expectations from small cars. The quality of the interiors, the long list of features and the smooth diesel engine all point towards small cars not having to be budget-grade anymore. It’s the easiest to use inside the city too, which makes it a strong contender as a daily driver. With the Nios, you could ask for more width inside the cabin and some more punch for the highway trips. But other than that, there’s practically nothing more you’d want.

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