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Old 26th July 2009, 17:17   #1
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Default Navratna:The definitive comparision of B segment petrol hatchbacks (1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

(Disclaimer:

1.Cars shown in photographs NEED NOT necessarily represent actual vehicles tested or their varients.

2.Hyundai getz pics from the internet as I drove a personal owned getz and no pics were taken to show privacy respect.

3.Some pics have accessories or fitments which may or may not be a part of standad equipment. Ask your dealer for full details.

4.Pics quality inconsistant and errors expected due to time constraints.

5.Some pics have different varients photographed due to time constraints. Remember that the vehicle design is the same and only cosmetic differences exist.

6.Prices quoted are ex-showroom Delhi and on-road prices may vary depending upon the dealer/ city.

7.This test aims to provide the buyers with in-depth comparision of each vehicle’s pros and cons. However, perceptions on the same can vary between different individuals/ groups/ peers. So, take a test drive and judge your requirements before selecting the final product.)

"If automobiles had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a small car would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside."

Fortunately for us, automobiles have been more than just "computers". They serve the purpose of transporting our families and in-laws from point A-B in style, safety, comfort and savings with decent mileage and running costs.

Of course, we are talking about hatchbacks here, which constitute more than 60% of the car sales in India.

Recently, there has been a new emerging segment-that of B segment hatchbacks or "superminis", which provide the comfort, power, space, comfort, safety and features of most luxury 3 box cars for a compact size and reasonable price.

Originally pioneered by Hyundai Getz in fall 2004, now there no less than 9 options to choose from, mainly Suzuki Swift (2005), Chevrolet Aveo 5 (2007),Skoda Fabia (2008),Tata Indica Vista(2008), Hyundai I20 (2008), Fiat Punto (2009), Honda Jazz (2009)and finally the newly launched Suzuki Ritz (2009).

All of a sudden, a big opportunity for manufacturers to cash in opportunity provided by this extremely price and FE sensitive Indian market, more so by the government’s excise benefit of 8% for cars powered by petrol engines displacing less than 1200 cc and tucked below 4 metres.

Many manufacturers have taken the advantage and offer big hatches with downsized 1.2 gasoline engines, while some also offer more powerful 1.3 and 1.4 gasoline engines as a option to cater to people who demand more power.

But there is a downside-the more modern the car, the more safer it has to be and in comparision-it is more heavier and you can’t beat the laws of physics.

Heavy car+puny engine=low on performance and mileage due to the extra stress the engine has to lug around.

Though worldwide manufacturers have solution like direct petrol injection,
turbocharging and ecoboost which gives a power output comparible to that of a bigger engine while keeping a reasonable mileage and most important, lowering of emissions, unfortunately, this technology also costs more and in our country, price still is one of the most important criteria while purchasing these cars and price does not mean the initial purchase price, it means the overall value that is offered to the customer in terms of price to size to features to mileage ratio with the best of after sales service and it acts as a make or brake for manufacturers in the most difficult automobile market on earth-ours.

Now, coming to this comparision test-the “B” segment has been the fastest growing of late and suddenly, in the past 15 months, no less than 5-6 launches have taken place at different price points-right from 3,99,000 to above 8,00,000.
But still, a hatch is a hatch and our market is at a maturity stage to accept these superminis as an alternative to the entry level sedans.

So-which of these 9 gasoline hatches offers the best all round combination of
  1. value
  2. performance
  3. fuel efficiency
  4. safety
  5. space and comfort
  6. ride and handling
  7. style
  8. resale value
  9. after sales service
  10. the overall feel?
These questions, and many more, will be answered in the most comprehensive and the most important comparision ever carried out here.

Yet again-
No ifs and buts.
No half truths.
No true lies.
Just the right winners.
But which one of them ?

The contenders:

1.Hyundai Getz 1.3 alpha (E-3)
2.Hyundai I20 1.2 kappa (E-3/4)
3.Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Fire (E-4)
4.Honda Jazz 1.2 I-VTEC (E-4)
5.Maruti Swift 1.3 AlTec (E-3)
6.Maruti Ritz 1.2 KB (E-4)
7.Chevrolet Aveo 5 1.2 S-Tec (E-3)
8.Skoda Fabia 1.2 HTP (E-3/4)
9.Tata Indica Vista 1.2 Safire (E-3)

*E-3=Euro 3, E-4=Euro 4, E-3/4=Euro 3 current, Euro 4 ready without any engine tuning.

Yes, we may debate on how come some old cars, many of them either will get their engine changed, or phased out, or facelift etc. are considered but still, these are contenders on their own right and they still sell in decent numbers.

And, it is still minimum of at least 6 months left before any of these changes will take place.
So, here we go.

The parameters:

1.Exterior design
2.Chassis engineering
3.Build quality
4.Interior design and quality
5.Space and comfort
6.Boot space
7.Engine and performance
8.Gearbox
9.Fuel efficiency
10.Ride and stability
11.Handling and braking
12.Buying and owning
13.Final verdict
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:30   #2
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Hyundai getz prime 1.3 alpha

List price (ex-showroom Delhi)
  • 1.3 GVS-4,09,000
  • 1.3 GLS-4,29,000
  • 1.3 GLX ABS-4,59,000
What works:
  • Supple low and medium speed ride
  • Space and comfort
  • Flexible interiors
  • Reclning and foldable 60:40 rear seats
  • Sturdy build
  • Flexible 1.3 engine
  • Competant Hyundai service
What needs work:
  • Ordinary styling now appears dated
  • Dull driving experience
  • Cheap beige interiors and wood
  • Below par fuel efficiency
  • Absence of airbags
  • Engine noisy at high revs due to old engine design
  • Poor resale value due to low demand, may get phased out soon.
  • Lacks the “feel good” factor
Hyundai I20 1.2 kappa

List price (ex-showroom Delhi)
  • Magna-4,80,200
  • Asta ABS and Dual Airbags-5,60,201
  • Asta (o) with side and curtain airbags-5,82,200
What works:
  • Contemporary European Design and engineering
  • Safety kit on Asta and 5 star rating
  • Quality interiors
  • Plethora of features
  • Refined kappa engine
  • Respectable mileage for a car of this size
  • Space for 5 people
  • Good boot space
  • Competent Hyundai service
What needs work:
  • Engine wheezes on highway on full load
  • Overtaking manouvers need to be planned
  • Artificial steering feel from motor driven power steering (MDPS)
  • Expensive for a 1.2
  • Flat seats a bit low on comfort
  • Inconsistant ride and handling
  • Resale value suspect
Honda jazz 1.2 I-VTEC

List price (Ex-showroom Delhi)
  • Jazz S MT ABS and dual airbags-6,98,000
What works
  • Most potent and fuel efficient 1.2
  • Resale value and badge
  • Best in class space, comfort and flexible interiors
  • Packaging
  • Biggest boot
  • “magic seats”
  • Flexible i-vtec engine
  • 5 star safety rating
  • Low on maintenance
  • Refinement and eagerness for a car of that size to engine cc ratio
  • Futuristic monovolume space efficient design
What needs work
  • Overpriced
  • Inconsistant after sales service
  • Stripped down model as compared to the competition
  • Shockingly Low on equipment
Skoda Fabia 1.2 HTP

List price (Ex-showroom Delhi)
  • Active Dual airbags-4,90,865
  • Classic Dual airbags-5,24,718
  • Ambiente ABS and Dual airbags-5,88,152
  • Elegence 1.2 ABS and dual airbags-6,40,197
What works
  • Outstanding interior quality and fit and finish
  • Durable body
  • Space and comfort at the rear and good boot space
  • Sturdy at high speeds
  • Safety and security
  • Equipment on elegance
  • Top of class road manners, ride and handling
  • “prestige” of skoda badge which is VW under the skin
What needs work
  • Pathetic and wheezy iron block 3-pot engine
  • Horrible after sales service
  • Poor customer commitment
  • Reliability issues with fabia petrol
  • Electrical glitches persistant
  • Below par petrol’s resale value
  • Unrefined and puny 3 cylinder feels out of sync with a car this expensive
  • Very high maintenance costs
  • Hiccups at low rpm response
Chevrolet Aveo 5 S-tec

List Price (Ex-showroom Delhi)
  • Base-3,99,917
  • LS-4,36,037
  • LT with ABS and Driver Airbag-5,48,201
What works
  • Space and comfort for 5
  • Warrenty and maintenance package
  • Clean ride and handling
  • No-nonsence product
What needs work
  • Poor resale value
  • Questionable after sales service at some GM dealers
  • Dull driving experience
  • Engine lacks bottom end torque and flexibility
  • Outdated design of exterior and interor no longer desirable-falls in no man’s land
  • Questionable safety record for a daewoo
  • Small boot space
  • Lacks the “feel” factor in this segment compared to swift.
Maruti Swift 1.3 AlTec

List Price (Ex Showroom Delhi)
  • LXI-3,99,987
  • VXI-4,37,506
  • VXI ABS-4,56,520
  • ZXI ABS and dual airbags-5,15,823
What works
  • Design still looks good after 4 years despite being so common
  • A favourite with youngsters
  • Awesome front seats
  • Sporty Driving position
  • Amazing handling, even with EPS
  • Chuckable city hatch
  • ZXI is VFM for equipment levels
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Resale value
  • Maruti’s aftersales service
  • Flexible engine at high revs, refined and loves to be revved harder.
What needs work
  • Claustrophobic rear seats and windows
  • Small boot
  • Questionable Build quality
  • Squeaks and rattles persistant
  • Engine, though competant, is now outclassed by ritz’s-KB in terms of refinement and flexibility
  • Waiting period
  • Fidgety ride
  • LXI and VXI versions are under-tyred.
Maruti Ritz 1.2 KB

List Price (Ex-Showroom Delhi)
  • LXI-3,90,000
  • VXI-4,20,000
  • VXI-ABS-4,45,001
  • ZXI-4,80,000
What works:
  • Modern Design Chassis aids handling
  • High seating position
  • Amazing front seats
  • Equipment level in ZXI
  • Fabulous KB series engine-refined, flexible and fuel efficient
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Good ride and stability for its size
  • Maruti’s after sales service
What needs work:
  • Controversial rear end design
  • Small boot
  • Cramped rear seat
  • Under tyred
  • Messed up instruments
Tata Indica Vista 1.2 Safire

List price (Ex showroom Delhi)
  • Terra-3,39,544
  • Aqua- 3,64,917
  • Aura-3,89,051
What works-
  • True space and comfort for 5 people
  • Low purchase price
  • Value for money
  • Improved fit anf finish
  • Refined Fiat 1.2 engine
  • Decent ride
What needs work
  • Below par after sales service
  • Poor petrol resale value
  • Low on fuel efficiency
  • Uninspiring performance and subpar driving experience
  • ]Below par interior plastics
  • Styling gets unnoticed despite being only a year old
  • Long term reliability still suspect
  • Under tyred 13 inch wheels look out of place and spoil the overall stance of the car.
Fiat Punto 1.4 Fire

List price (Ex showroom Delhi)
  • Dynamic-4,66,562
  • Emotion ABS-5,06,573
  • Emotion pack ABS and dual airbags-5,61,581
What works
  • Amazing european design that turns heads
  • Solid body build quality
  • Best in class ride and handling
  • Tough stance on 15 inch wheels for emotion pack
  • Safety kit and 5 star rating
  • Good boot space
  • Rigid and tough chassis designed for global applications including developing countries that can withstand abuse
  • Competitive price makes it fantastic VFM
  • Features on emotion pack-the only car with bluetooth connectivity
  • “my car” settings and programmable service interval
  • 15,000 kms service interval
What needs work
  • Questionable interior quality
  • Small interior parts falling off
  • Cramped rear legroom
  • High loading sill for the boot
  • Uninspiring performance for claimed output
  • Below par mileage due to heavyweight
  • Questionable after sales service and resale value
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:35   #3
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It would be appreciated if you include in i10 kappa too in the test.

PS : I seriously think i10 suffers from an identity crisis, its sometimes not considered a B segment car and never even compared with santro and other, being a little more expensive than those.
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:36   #4
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Exterior Design:
  • Hyundai getz: 5 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 7 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 7 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 7 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 7 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 5 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 8 /10
Make no mistake-all these cars are designed with different philosophies keeping in mind the requirements that originate from their countries of origin.

Guigirio has penned 2 of these designs-the Aveo 5 and the punto. Yes, the aveo 5 was designed in Italy by Italdesign and still it looks decent. But, since that design came in 2000 as Daewoo kalos, it looks pretty outdated and unspiring. The Indian version, launched in 2007, is actually a minor facelifted one with integrated turn lights in headlights and the chevy grille but the front design is devoid of any prescence and reeks 80s. Same goes for the side-other than the 2 character lines, the design goes unnoticed and would never get a second glance. It looks to feminine for our tastes. Same goes for the rear-other than the taillights, the whole design is plane-jane and outdated in serious need of a makeover. That makeover was done in 2007 in europe and Korea and a new interior was added, similar to the aveo sedan but is yet to be launched in India.

On the other hand, the punto, despite being a 4 year old design (first launched in 2005) still looks good, fresh and contemporary devoid of any unnecessary creases and curves. Clearly, Italians believe in simplicity and it works, from the fantastic front with the “mercury drop” headlights to the simplistic contours of the side silhouette to the muscular rear end-makes you want to own one just for the looks alone. Admiration guarenteed!
The Indian Spec Punto has its both front and rear bumpers chopped to meet the “small car” norms and it looks a bit feminine as compared to the European version, but still, it’s a great design and comes in a variety of strking paint shades.

On the other hand, the jazz stands true to its name. Its jazzy and futuristic as with all recent Hondas. Designed in Japan, it is aimed at urban youths and is designed keeping in mind the Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy. Despite having shorter wheelbase as compared to I20 and Punto, the amount of space liberated in this supermini really is super, even it puts some entry level sedans to shame. Key to this is extremely compact engine bay, radical “cab-forward” MPV-like design, mounting of fuel tank under the front seats and compact suspension design. Adding to its airy feeling is the huge glass area everywhere.
It may lack alloys, but the dark grey wheelcaps look striking with black 15” steel wheels.

The I20, is actually one of better and cohesively designed Hyundais appealing to European tastes. Launched in fall 2008 to replace the getz in European markets, it looks a matured, clean and contemporary design out of their studios in Russelshim, Germany. The front end is however the only standout in an otherwise ordinary shape. Inspired by SLK-it looks striking and has some presence on the road. From the side, it would pass as any french supermini, same from the rear end which resembles the current vauxhall/ opel corsa.The Huge “H” logo which acts as a tailgate opener and the curvy rear bumper are the only striking elements here.

The getz, designed in the same place as the I20, is still sold at a lower price point. Launched in Korea in 2002 and here in 2004, it actually pioneered the supermini B segment in our country but it never really took off. It still looks modern and clean but like the aveo 5, it looks outdated, especially in front of its elder brother, despite the 2007 facelift as the getz prime. The silhouette is OK but dull, especially from the side. The front looks ordinary and the new headlights life it from blandness and the rear resembles the erstwhile daewoo Matiz and looks chunky with the huge bumper but still, it is a design that has aged gracefully and its on its way out.

The Maruti Ritz and swift may share a common platform but are as different as chalk is to cheese.

The swift, launched in 2005 is based on a new suzuki global small car platform with modern mechanicals and was the first car that came with suzuki’s new design language, aimed at youth and sporty crowd. Its radical looks made it a favourite with youngsters and tuners alike, still, after 4 years and 3,50,000 swifts after, it looks fresh, mature and the right car for the Gen Y, making it their default choice. The front is striking with its peeled headlights and huge chunky bumper, the side apes the mini with a 2-box design and the buldging flared wheel arches, and the rear with its boomerang taillights looks different from any other car on the road, a key to its success. It still commands waiting lists that other manufacturers would love to die for.

Similar looking but different in design, the skoda fabia is another European designed supermini based on the roomster platform. Launched in 2007 in Europe and in 2008 in India, it is based on VW groups polo platform and shares many components with it. It is designed to provide robust, durable and reliable motoring to the European masses who aspire to own a VW but cannot afford to. (It’s a different story here, though, as the car was launched in a premium “superhatch” segment).
The front end has typical skoda design cues inspired from the roomster, the side is similar to the swift and the rear is again-more curvy and masculine. The body and finish is amazing and it looks the part.

The other Maruti-the Ritz, or splash as it is called in other markets, does make a splash in the design statement. For a car of its size designed to be tall and practical, it certainly looks the part, especially from the front 3 quarters, where mix of Audi grille and I20 headlights highlight the front end, the curvy and slant windows from the side and boomerang taillights at the rear.
However, the rear end is not so ritzy and has a “smashed up with a sledgehammer” look, clearly not gelling with the font and sides and looks like an afterthought, enough to raise opinion.
Based on a shortened swift platform, it is designed for clean, simple, practical, no frills motoring for families on a budget .

The Indica vista may look like an evolution of the indica but is a grounds up redesign launched in 2008. And, its apperance is its biggest problem, too similar and familiar with those triangular headlights, smiling grille and christmas tree taillights, meaning an casual observer would mistake it for just an indica which is enlarged. However, the front is striking, the sides look ordinary and in this safire version, look out of proportion when shod with puny 13 inch wheels. For a car this big, the wheelwells whould have atleast 15 inchers.

Justin Noyrek, of I.DE.A, who designed the vista, has kept the familiar “christmas tree taillight” look at the rear. While it makes up for a clean looking trunklid, it still looks very early 90s. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:38   #5
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Chassis engineering:
  • Hyundai getz: 6 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 7 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 8 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 7 /10
  • Maruti swift: 8 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 9 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 6 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 6 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 9 /10
These cars may look similar but are very much different under the skin with varying degrees of stiffness that differentiates the Europeans from the Japanese and the Koreans.

Europeans are still masters in designing rigid and stiff chassis that are of prime importance In developing countries where pathetic roads and poor infrastructure means that these cars are more abused than your average “kantabai” maid.

So, not surprisingly, the punto and fabia are blessed with the gem of a chassis with stiff springs and damper settings for amazing ride quality and road holding at high speeds, with an anti-roll bar at both front and rear for amazing handling at any speed. The skoda’s key to its high speed road manners is the VW groups “C” platform, designed and engineered in South America, where similar roads exist, requiring the use of “rough road package” for maximum stability at any speed.

Ditto for the punto. Based on a SCCS platform shared with the corsa, it was also engineered for South American markets (esp. Brazil, Fiat’s volume market) and South African markets where similar road and weather conditions persist.

The Honda jazz, in its second generation, is also designed keeping the US market in mind and is truly a global product, with a stiff chassis (for a Honda) aimed at optimizing ride comfort while providing neutral handing. It is a good example of packaging marvel. Based on Honda global small car platform shared with the city and insight hybrid, it’s an extremely compact, intelligent and space efficient chassis with simple suspension setups tucked on to the farthest of the monocoque. Same goes for the wheels-tucked far off to generate maximum passenger space.

The Hyundai I20 follows a similar chassis design philosophy as the jazz but is designed more towards easy driving than sporty handling, key to markets in Europe. It is a new generation PB chassis, more stiff than the jazz’s though in terms of packaging and space it does fall short, despite of having a long wheelbase than the Honda’s. All in all, it follows a conventional chassis trend as with any other European supermini of today, nothing groundbreaking.

The older Korean duo, the getz and the Aveo 5, are actually similar cousins under the skin. Since both of these cars were launched in 2001-2002, to compete with each other in the global markets, a lot of things have changed since like stringent safety standards, new generation design philosophies, tougher mileage and environmental norms etc and both these cars are clearly outclassed in this department. The chassis, though stiff is not so contemporary in design as compared to the others, safety features are questionable and even though both these cars have more interior space than the swift and ritz, the chassis design is pretty convectional and dated, more so in the case of the chevy.

The Swift and ritz are based on the same platform, but one is designed for the enthusiast and the other for practical, family oriented nature.
The swift follows the suzuki’s new global RBSS chassis philosophy with suspension bits inspired from the junior WRC like the stiff spring and damper rates, performance shockers and lightweight rigid chassis aided to improve handling and makes it for a superb chuckable city hatch.

Since the ritz is designed as a tall boy, making maximum use of available space vertically, and it is based on the same swift platform but with a smaller wheelbase, maintaining high speed stability was a challenge for Suzuki’s engineers and they added a thicker anti roll bar and softer spring and damper rates for better ride comfort since this is designed for urban families who want simple, no frills motoring.

The Indica Vista is designed on Tata motors’ second generation passenger car platform and shares nothing in common with the earlier Indica. In fact, for cost savings and in an effort to maximize passenger space and comfort, Tata has adopted for a more conventional torsion beam suspension in favour of the current Indi’s independent rear suspension as this configuration is much more simpler to manufacture and low on maintenance. The wheel wells can accommodate 13 inch to 15 inch wheels depending upon the version, however, the 13 inch wheels provided in the petrol clearly spoils the stance of the car and also does not help in high speed stability.
Otherwise, the new chassis is rigid, more for abuse than driving pleasure as Indica owners tend to abuse their cars ever so often. Overall, it is simple, rugged and easy on maintenance, just what an average Indian car buyer wants.
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:40   #6
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Build Quality:
  • Hyundai getz: 7 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 8 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 7 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 6 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 9 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 6 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 7 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 8 /10
In our country, since cars are abused in every possible way and due to our road conditions and infrastructure, cars need to be solidly built to withstand rigorous abuse.which means les squeaks and rattles, durable body and underpinnings as the car racks up the kilometers in coming years.

It is this parameter that no one manufacturer has understood better than skoda and closely, fiat.

The fabia easliy tops this stakes with a soild rigid bodyshell made from thicker gauge steel and superbly finished in 7 coats of high gloss paint.Every panel, every nut and bolt feels well screwed together and panel gaps are even and consistent.Not surprising considering the high asking price and the standards we have come to expect from skoda.

Following closely on the heels of skoda is Fiat punto, again built from sturdy materials such as high strength steel for the body with a similar thicker gauge as the fabia’s. Shut the door and the “thunk” like sound of its vault like body always feel special. The body, as with all fiats, feels rigid and durable to withstand abuse and while driving it, you get a feeling of safety and security that makes cars like swift, ritz and aveo feel like a tin can in comparision.

Hyundai’s I20 again has been designed keeping in mind the needs of quality conscious Europeans and despite being built in India for global markets, quality feels on par with the Europeans. Though the body may lake structural rigidity of the punto and fabia, build, fit and finish is excellent for the asking price and the body feels well screwed together.

Its little brother, the getz, is not badly built either, as owner feedback has shown for the pst 5 years it has been on our roads. Though better than the marutis, it is outclassed by Hyundai’s own I20, leave alone the Europeans. Though the body remains rattle free, remember that it is essentially a 7 year old design meaning that safety standards are not on par with today’s cars.

Honda’s new supermini, the jazz, has a solid feeling that was not prevailing with previous Hondas, but compared to Euro hatches, it lacks the solid feels and comes with typical Japanese lightweight, though rigid bodyshell. Honda’s “G-CON” technology does play a pivotal role in safety but the body build does not feel confidence inspiring. Its too early to comment on its long term durability but still, it will perform without fuss on our roads, the body largely remaining rattle free which plagues most marutis.

And unfortunately, inconsistent build quality forms a part of Maruti ownership experience. High demand and volume production with enormous pressure due to waiting periods have taken its toll on the build quality of both its cars-the swift and ritz.

The ritz, being better built of the 2 marutis, is expectd to last more onger than its elder sibling, the swift which unfortunately suffers from early squeaks and rattles in early stages, as felt by many owners. Panel gaps are wide and inconsistent on both marutis and it does not give you a “built to last” feeling as compared to some other cars. Quality of bumpers in both cars is questionable since they can easily break apart when towed. Same goes for doors which can produce a dent even when hit slightly.
Replacement of door hinges at least 2-3 times is part of ownership experience and its high time that maruti pays attention to this problem.

As compared to marutis, the aveo (2000 daewoo kalos) feels well screwed together-but only just. The body lacks torsional rigidity of even its rival-the getz and rattles do creep in after about 7-8000 kms. But its safety features are questionable as the car has only earned 2 stars from Euro NCAP. The body panels feel light and tinny and do not feel as if they would last longer.

The Indica Vista is built using new modern robotized manufacturing processes at Tata-Fiat plant in ranjangaon in pune and as a result, it marks a quantum leap over the earlier Indica with a superb paint finish, consistent panel gaps and streamlined body finish which feels more durable. However, it loses points for absence of safety features like ABS and airbags.

Last edited by sidindica : 26th July 2009 at 17:41.
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Old 26th July 2009, 17:50   #7
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Interior design and quality
  • Hyundai getz: 6 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 7 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 7 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 6 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 8 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 5 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 6 /10
As with the exterior, the fabia leads the way with outstanding interior design and finish. The dashboard is simple and ergonomically laid out, with all controls being logically laid out and falling easy on driver’s hands. The dimpled plastic on elegance looks simply superb and feels built to last, same for AC vents. Every lever,screw, nut and bolt feels expensive and precisely fit and finished together. Even the dials are superbly designed and clear to read. The door pads follow a similar, high quality design with all controls falling easily in hand.

Compared to the city, the jazz’s interiors feel actually better finished and made of high quality material. For interior design and practicality, it’s a case study for other manufacturers to follow. Honda’s engineers have designed the interiors in such a way that every possible square inch has been carved out for storage space. No less than 10 cup and bottle holders are available, storage spaces abound here and there and the dashboard design is itself futuristic and feels like a cockpit design. The AC controls are intuitive and easy to operate, so as the audio controls on the steering wheel. Superb ergonomics and the best of all, it offers flexibility like no other hatch tested. Its rear seats not only fold 60:40, but also tumble and fold in a manner that you can carry a bicycle!or a flower pot! Yes, we are discussing the “magic seats” feature. However, absence of certain equipment like dead pedal, parcel tray, ACC etc is shocking on a car costing this much.

The I20’s interiors may have a dull design but are superbly finished and the two-tone beige and brown interior scheme feels airy and luxurious, if not to everyone’s taste. However, the dashboard feels a bit old school with convectional stereo and vertical AC vents, even though ergonomically it is superb, especially the toggle type audio controls on the steering wheel. The door pockets are big and glove box is deep and cooled, superb attention to detail, so are the tell-tale signs displayed on the mini screen on top of the dashboard.

Compared to the i20, the getz’s dashboard looks outdated and very 80s with boxy rectangular design and square door pads. Though finish is decent, the beige interiors look downmarket and feel cheap, not helped by the tacky wood finish which looks more like it is glued onto the console. Ergonomics are decent bu the overall design is bland. Earlier cars came with black interiors (pictured) which looked a bit sporty. Not these ones.

Same goes for aveo. It feels like a prehistoric cave in comparison. The expanses of grey not doing any favour either. It lacks any design flair of the current hatches and looks like nothing but an enlarged 1998 daewoo matiz interior. Finish is decent but the carbon fibre finish feels tacky and out of sync. Though the design is a bit practical, it doesn’t feel that special either. What it clearly needs is new interiors a-la aveo sedan that currently does duty in the new aveo 5 worldwide.

Both the marutis-the swift and the ritz follow a similar interior theme-black and sportiness. The swift’s dashboard is well designed and wraps around the driver nicely, giving it a sporty feeling. It is also somewhat better built as compared to the previous marutis but still has its work cut out. In the ZXI version, the integrated audio looks superb and gels well with the dash, so do some splashes of silver. However, at the rear due to small windows, it feels claustrophobic and does not impart a feeling of airiness. Storage space above the dashboard is wasted, though there is a big shelf to store CDs and also, two cupholders abound. Door pockets, though large are slim and do not solve any purpose either.

The ritz has a more practical design of the two and even though the dashboard is inspired from the CR-V, it looks superb with the integrated stereo on the ZXI. It has superb ergonomics, decent storage spaces and is finished in generally high quality for a car of the asking price, but the instruments are a mess. The speedometer, inspired from the mini cooper, is large but too much dials make it difficult to read, so does the digital fuel gauge, which is just too small and belongs more to a bike than a car. The pop up tachometer is again a design statement which looks cool but is difficult to read on a moving vehicle due to its small size.

The Indica vista, however is a design disaster with surprisingly poor ergonomics and almost devoid of any usable storage space, save for the huge glove box and a small tray under the co-driver’s seat. In an attempt to save costs for left and right hand drive markets, the centre console is poorly designed and AC controls are way bottom, and also the console fouls with the driver’s knee. The door pockets are too small on a car this big and claims that it is designed for Indians. The central dials look decent but again, the tacho is too small to read easily.
However, the biggest problem lies with the fit and finish of the interior plastics. Though quality has improved by leaps and bounds, it is still way behind other cars compared here. Some parts still feel flimsy and feel that they will break apart due to repeated usage and some panels are not well screwed together, sadly a tata trademark.

The punto again doesn’t do badly as far as interiors are concerned but quality feels short as compared to the Skoda and Honda. Though the dashboard is superbly designed and feels like an aircraft cockpit with amazing ergonomics, it is let down by inconsistent fit and finish, especially in the areas like the steering wheel and seat latches. The storage spaces, though plenty, are not well executed either with shallow cup holders and small door pockets.
The main concern is lack of quality control and lack of it keeps popping around, as in this case, the parcel tray lock fell off mysteriously (shown in the pic). For the asking price, better quality interiors are expected and hope fiat takes care of this soon.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:01   #8
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Space and comfort:
  • Hyundai getz: 7 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 8 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 9 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 6 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 8 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 7 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 8 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 7 /10
Since these cars are classified as “super minis”, and they are considered to be an alternative to entry level sedans, packaging plays a pivotal role as in our country, though these cars are strictly 4 or 5 seaters, accommodating an entire brood of your in-laws, grand children and even pets is not uncommon, as seen in many small cars.

And in this case, no car does it better than the jazz. Its an amazing mastery of interior packaging, with superb head and legroom in both the front and rear seats. And even when the front seats are pulled backward, it is possible to sit one 6 footer behind the other, a major factor since this car is also sold in USA. The front seats are superbly comfortable with adequate thigh and lumber support and do not feel tiring after long drives due to its ergonomic design. The rear seats, though a bit flat, are also pretty comfortable but could do better with more under thigh support, important for elderly. 3 people car sit with adequate width in this car.
Ingress and egress is easy due to wide opening doors and the car feels airy throughout. It has tilt steering as standard but driver’s seat height adjust is not provided, an criticial omission on a car this expensive.

Another car with an amazing rear seat is the indica vista. As tata knows how rear seat is important to us, it is designed superbly with perfect squabs and optimum inclination angle. Sitting 3 abreast is not a problem and does not feel tiring after long journeys. Same goes for the front seat-superbly comfortable and spacious with huge width and legroom.
This is one of the few cars to come with lumber support and even though it is barely effective, it works. In aura, both the steering can be tilt adjusted and seat height raised, so it is easy to find an ideal driving position, even for vertically challenged drivers. Legroom is good, both in front and rear and again, entry and exit is amazing as the doors open 90 degrees wide, enough to make your saas proud.

The skoda Fabia may look small outside, but inside, the seats are amazingly comfortable, the rear, more so. Perfectly shaped with optimum thigh and back support, the way it hugs around your body means you never feel tired even after long journeys. The backrest, though feels a touch upright and could do with a touch more inclination.
The front seats are again outstanding with perfect contours and again, legroom is generous.The seat adjusts for height and the steering both adjusts for tilt and telescopic, so it is easy to find a percect driving position.

The Korean duo of aveo and getz share a similar philosophy as far as their interior comfort is concerned. Legroom is more than adequate at both front and rear, and for the asking price, both cars do not do bad as far as backseat comfort is concerned with adequate legroom and width, the getz more so since its rear seats can be reclined at 3 different angles. The aveo 5’s seat is in comparison, a bit flat and falls short of that crucial lower back support, something present in the getz.

In terms of front seat comparison, the getz again fares marginally better than the aveo, but only just. Legroom is generous but tall drivers have their knees fouling with the dashboard since both cars do not have seat height adjustment as standard, only the steering adjusts for tilt.

The biggest drawback is that on both these cars seats are placed too low means passengers have to sit with their knees up position (especially taller ones) and this can get painful on long drives.

The newest Korean, the I20, doesn’t do as bad as far as overall comfort is concerned. The front seats are generous and even though they are placed low, a combination of tilt/telescopic steering wheel and height adjust means it is again easy to find an optimal driving position. The front seats are comfy but could do better from the lower back and under thigh support point of view, since they are flat and have an abrupt design near the edges, which means overall under thigh support is compromised.
The rear seats are again, spacious and comfy, but are no match for jazz and vista, due to their flat design and the seats are not contoured enough to hold the body together in a way these 2 cars do. Although the inclination is better, more was expected from a car that has a bigger wheelbase as compared to jazz.

The Italiano punto only suffers from one problem-cramped rear seat for a car that looks big from outside. Clearly, to make more boot space, rear legroom is compromised and its 2 box design does it no favors. But, when it comes to comfort, the seats are well shaped and provide that crucial lower back support for long drives due to optimum cushioning and squab design. 2 persons can travel in utmost comfort but width is in short supply for the ocassional 3rd passenger.
Up front, though, things get a whole lot better with amazing front seat comfort, designed to wrap around your body and suitable to all human frames. Legroom is again more than adequate but the front passenger faces a problem of his knees fouling with the dash’s lower panel. Punto also offers a tilt steering and driver’s seat height adjustment in higher versions and the driving position can best be described as sporty.

The swift, again is supremely comfortable in the front with generous legroom and the driving position feels one of the sportiest in this group. In ZXI, now maruti offers both tilt steering and seat height adjust as standard, aiding optimal driving position.
For a car of this size, the front is very comfy and large seat travel means all shapes and sizes can fit here. But it’s a different story at the rear-though the seat is pretty comfortable, width and legroom is in short supply and it gets worse when 3 people are sitted, the small windows not helping either.When 1 person is chauffeur driven, the left front seat can be raised forward and huge legroom is at your disposal. But for a car that looks wide from outside, better things were expected and the swift falls short in rear seat comfort and space.

The ritz also has a short wheelbase but for its size, the car is very spacious in the front. High seating position means that the visibility outside is amazing and you feel that you are driving a quasi-SUV. Again, the ZXI offers a combination of seat height adjust and tilt steering to find a decent driving position. The seats are very comfortable for a car built on a small footprint and maruti has optimized the under thigh and lumber support for optimum comfort. The high dashboard design means that knees do not foul with the lower part and the passenger feels comfortable.

Sadly, the small wheelbase also has its limitations-the rear seat is not really comfortable and legroom is again short. Though the seats are placed high negating the need to stretch the legs, one can’t help but feel shortage of legroom and width, more so when 3 people are sitting either. The flat seats mean passengers can get tiring after long distances, another area where maruti has its work cut out.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:02   #9
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pics of the Hyundai twins
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:08   #10
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Boot space:
  • Hyundai getz: 7 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 8 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 9 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 4 /10
  • Maruti swift: 5 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 8 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 6 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 7 /10
Again, the jazz wins this contest due to its flat, low loading area and amazing packaging, means 4 suitcases can be placed vertically side by side.
Following closely is the i20 and the fabia with again, similar characteristics but comparatively less space as compared to jazz.

The punto and getz follow next, partly due to their rear suspension towers intrude, more so in the case of fiat.

For a car this big, the vista was expected to have a big boot, but it does not have, though as compared to earlier indica, it is better.

Same case with the aveo. To increase legroom, boot space is compromised and this results in less luggage space as compared to the getz and punto.

Rounding the bottom of the list are the 2 marutis, with the swift having a bit more usable boot due to flat design and better utilization. The ritz, on the other hand, has the least usable boot of all, part owed to its kicked up rear design. Clearly, space has been compromised for style.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:15   #11
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Engine and performance:
  • Hyundai getz: 5 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 6 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 8 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 8 /10
  • Maruti swift: 7 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 4 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 4 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 6 /10
6 cars out of 9 compared have 1.2 engines to fit into the “small car norms”, all in different states of tune. Remember that many factors like
  • Power to weight ratio
  • Gear ratios
  • Torque
  • Engine rpm etc
Play an important role in overall performance of the vehicle.

The best performer of the 1.2 brigade is the Honda jazz which has a 16v SOHC i-VTEC engine producing 89 ps and over 11 kg-m of torque, all at high rpms. Despite this factor, the flexibility nature of the honda engine and the use of variable valve timing in both intake and exhaust valves means that throttle response is instant and the car surges forard with an eagerness that belies the engine’s size. Add low kerb weight and well chosen gear ratios means that you can get maximum out of this engine.
0-100 is dispatched in about 12.9 seconds and tall speed is about 165 kmph, above 130, it struggles and labours to its redline with the engine providing no more usable power. So, its best to keep the engine at low to mid-rpms to extract the maximum performance of the engine.on the highway, overtaking manourves are OK but still need to be planned in advance before the engine runs out of breath.

Another superb performer and closer to jazz in terms of acceleration is the new maruti ritz with its new 1197 cc all aluminium 16V DOHC KB engine producing 79 ps. Coupled with low weight and optimum gear ratios, it is an absolute jewel, smooth and refined and eager to perform.
0-100 is dispatched in 13 seconds and the engine keeps enthusiastically revving till it touches about 160 kmph, power band is wide and at only high rpms it sounds strained. Suzuki engineers have truly come up with a gem of an engine after a long time and overall as a package, it is hard to beat the ritz.

Similar in displacement and specification is the I20’s 1197 cc, 16V DOHC kappa engine producing 80 ps and 11.4 kg-m torque. While it is a auperb performer on the i10, remember it has to carry a whole lot of weight on the I20 and for that purpose, it does its job pretty well. Hyundai has tuned this engine more for bottom end response and fuel efficiency than for top end whack and in this parameter, it has its work cut out.
0-100 is dispatched in about 15.6 seconds and till 120, all is well. After that, there is a significant drop in performance and he engine struggles to reach 140 and labours till itstop end whack of 155-160 kmph.
The engine is not suitable for highway and lackness the flexibility of both the maruti’s and honda’s motors at high rpms. Overtaking manouvers need to be properly planned and well in advance in this car.

A major disappointment in this pack is the skoda fabia’s 1.2 3 cylinder HTP petrol made of cast iron block. Though it has 4 valves per cylinder and a DOHC, producing just 70 ps and 108 Nm torque and lugging a heavy car (1050 kg) means that it is a slowcoach, and a significant one at that.
This engine actually is a scaled down version of the 1.6 jetta petrol engine which dates back to early 1990s and this engine also powers come chinese VWs. So, old design has its disadvantages as the cast iron block is heavy and blunts performance.
Though the engine may be dubbed as High Torque Performance (HTP), unfavourable power to weight ratio and inconsistant gear ratios mean 0-100 is diapatched in about 18 seconds and it takes another 20 seconds to touch 130 kmph. Its top speed is estimated to be about 150.
But the biggest drawback is its refinement. Just having 3 cylinders and adding to the woes is the cast iron block construction means unnecessay vibrations filter through the cabin and the engine simply wheezes on the highway crying out “its enough”! There is also hesistant low-rpm response and some jerks can be felt.
Its time that skoda plonked the TSI engine to give it a power it now urgently needs. For a car costing above 5-6 lakhs, a 4 cylinder is a must and this engine is clearly outclassed in this group.

Same is the problem with the vista’s 1172cc “safire” engine (a Fiat design) which has a simple 8-valve cast iron block SOHC unit producing 68 ps which means performance Is sluggish as it has to lug a lot of weight around.
Though the engine is pretty refined and smooth, it wheezes on the highway with 0-100 coming up in about 18.6 seconds and hitting a top speed of 145 kmph.

The last 1.2-the aveo 5, also has a wheezy daewoo mill. Though refined at idle, it sounds strained and doesn’t perform like its claimed 76ps suggest.
0-100 is diapatched in about 17.5 seconds but the problem with the engine is that it has to be whipped to get it to perform and it simply labours and cries loud at its entire power band . this engine, whose scaled down version powers the spark, is superb in the spark but simply aweful in the aveo 5.
Part can be owed to its design which traces back to early 1990s. The S TEC engine is actually a 4 cylinder version of the old 796 cc daewoo matiz engine and is available in 1.0L and 1.2 L in different states of tune. The iron-block construction does it no favours as it lacks tractibality of modern all aluminium powertrains.

Coming to the 1.3 brigade-both the swift and getz are powered by 1298 cc and 1341 cc engines respectively, with their designs dating back to early 1990s.
The getz is powered by 1341 cc alpha engine, having SOHC 3 vavle configuration producing 83 ps and cast-iron construction whose design dates back to 1991 when the engine was introduced in older accent models. It is still a refined, tractible engine, but lacks the flexibility of modern all aluminium 1.2s. the engine performs cleanly but you don’t feel like driving hard just because throttle response is hesitant and inconsistant. It lacks bottom end torque but has a strong mid-range, where it performs best. Power tapers off again at high rpm and it is best to keep this engine between 2,500-4,000 rpm. Drive it sedately and the getz will reward you. Just OK for basic daily motoring needs, not for enthusiasts.
0-100 kmph comes in about 14.5 seconds and the top end whack is about 150-155 kmph.

For enthusiasts, look no further than the swift’s all aluminium 1298 cc engine producing 87 ps and 11.5 kg-m torque at high rpms. The G13BB engine, though outdated in design (first appeared in esteem in 1994) is a superb performer and just loves to be revved. This long stroke nature of the motor means that you never find wanting for lack of power at mid and high range, one of the engine’s strengths. Its only at the bottom end that lack of torque can be felt making you to downshift often.
0-100 kmph comes in about 12.3 seconds and it has a top speed of 160 kmph. Another trait of the motor is that it is superbly refined at idle and soetimes you have to look at the tacho to see if the engine is on.

The most powerful engine in this lot is fiat punto’s all aluminium 16V DOHC FIRE engine producing 90 ps and 11.5 kgm-torque. While on paper these figures look promising, it’s a different story on the road.
Producing power and torque at high rpms coupled with the car’s heavy kerb weight (1190 kg) means that it doesn’t perform as enthusiastically as it should and is a bit hesitant at low revs. Mid range is strong and again, power tapers of at high rpms. Though the engine has that characterictic italian sound and loves to be revved, the different gearing as compared to linea means that it is actually slower, Fiat hving tuned this engine more for driveability and fuel efficiency than performance.
0-100 kmph comes in about 16.5 seconds, pretty competant and it hits it’s top speed of 165 kmph.
Overall a decent performer, but uninspiring considering the figures othe paper.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:19   #12
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Gearbox (shifting quality):
  • Hyundai getz: 7 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 6 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 8 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 8 /10
  • Maruti swift: 7 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 9 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 4 /10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 4 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 6 /10
Skoda fabia may have a pathetic engine but its gearbox simply shifts superbly without any hesitation and baulkiness, and it is simply enjoyable to use at any ratios.

Honda’s jazz gearboz, as with many honda boxes, is smooth shifting but it lacks the crispiness of the fabia’s box, especially while shifting on 3rd and 4th.

With the ritz, maruti has gifted a superb gearbox along with the engine and except from the 2nd gear balk, shifts superbly. Its brother, the swift, though sporty shifting, feels a bit heavy on the 2nd and 4th gears and lacks the crispiness of the ritz gearbox.

Out of the Hyundai siblings, surprisingly it is the getz that has better shifting gearbox as compared to that of the I20. In fact, the getz’s box is simply butter smooth as compared to that of the I20 which balks at 4th and 5th gears and overall shift quality is a bit clunky.

Similar gearbox is that of the punto’s which has long throw and lacks the crispiness of the skoda’s gearbox. Shifting into 3rd and 5th is a bit hesitating and again, the swifts are not so smooth.

The worst gearboxes belong to that of the vista and the aveo. Both are heavy, balky and have more long throws than any other car in this group, which detracts from the driving experience.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:21   #13
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Fuel efficiency:

On typical Delhi traffic with 90% AC on, expect these figures:

Skoda fabia- 4 /10
  • City-8-9 kmpl
  • Highway-11-12 kmpl
Fiat Punto-5 /10
  • City-9.5-10 kmpl
  • Highway-12.5-13 kmpl
Honda Jazz -7 /10
  • City-12 kmpl
  • Highway-15-16 kmpl
Hyundai getz- 6 /10
  • City-10.5 kmpl
  • Highway-14 kmpl
Hyundai I20- 7 /10
  • City-11.5 kmpl
  • Highway-15-16 kmpl
Tata indica Vista- 4 /10
  • City-8-9 kmpl
  • Highway-12.5 kmpl
Chevrolet aveo 5- 6 /10
  • City-11 kmpl
  • Highway-14-15 kmpl
Maruti swift-7 /10
  • City-11.4 kmpl
  • Highway-15-16 kmpl
Maruti Ritz- 8 /10
  • City-12.5-13 kmpl
  • Highway-17 kmpl
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:21   #14
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Ride quality and stability:
  • Hyundai getz: 7 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 7 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 7 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 5 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 8 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5/10
  • Tata Indica Vista:6 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 8 /10
The skoda fabia and fiat punto are evenly matched when it comes to ride quality on our roughest of roads. The skoda’s rough road suspension package swallows all bumps and craters with aplomb, with only the roughest of craters settling it a bit. Due to low pro tyres, low speed ride is a bit jiggly and you can feel every pothole. However, as speeds increase, ride improves dramatically and even at high speed, the skoda tracks dead straight, key to its composure remains with the superb European VW chassis.

The fiat punto is also blessed with a soild chassis and it rides better than skoda even at low speeds and ironing out all bumps and potholes with perfection, something which it is designed for.Nowhere the ride is jiggly and you remain unfazed at all types of roads, even the harshest of them, with just a “thud” noise coming out of the suspension. High speed stability is superb again, and you can drive with confidence at any speed, the punto being one of the few cars that offer an anti-roll bar at both front and rear.

Its an even match between the hyundai siblings and both the getz and i20 ride superbly, the i20 more so due to its modern stiff chassis. Only at low and medium speeds the ride is less than perfect, but Hyundai’s biasness towards suspension tuning more for ride comfort as compared to handling pays dividends at high speeds,where the car feels stable and secure, if not in the league of the Euro duo.

The getz on the other hand, rides decently at low and medium speeds. However, it lacks the stability of its elder sibling and the suspension gets noisy at high speeds with clunkiness prevailent all the time.

Tata’s engineers have worked to iron out the imperfections of the indica in the vista’s ride and it shows.
Despite switching from an independent one to a convectional twist beam, the suspension tuning is more biased towards ride with soft spring and damper rates and the vista rides competantly at medium speeds. The major drawback is that the 13’ rims are too small for comfort and at low speeds every inch of the pothole and bump can be felt, which is absent in the quadrajet that rides on 14”. Same is the story at high speed which lacks the stability that is expected from a car of this size and it is outclassed by other bigger rivals in this respect. The car seriously needs bigger 14 inch rims.

The jazz, riding on 15 inchers, is also pretty competant at low speeds with only big potholes unsettling it. Increase the speed, and the limitations of the lightweight chassis begin to show. Though the suspension works silently, the ride is pretty fidgety and inconsistant. High speed stabilty is again superb for a car of this weight and the aerodynamic design pays dividends, but still it lacks the overall cohesiveness of the fabia and the punto.

Out of the marutis, it is surprisingly the smaller ritz that rides better then swift.Low speed ride is good but at high speeds, the tallboy design has serious limitations-one, that you not feel confident enough to drive it and another-bumpy unsettled ride at the back, a common problem with the swift also. At high speeds, the swift is a bit more stable but again, the suspension is clunky and noisy and you can feel every pothole and bump that you encounter.

Overall, the ritz ride is clunky and the swift-more so-its fidgety.

The aveo is again outclassed in the high speed ride. Despite having a 188 mm ground clearance, the decade old chassis means that ride quality suffers at high speeds with the car getting unsettled easily. Though low speed ride is pretty good,the suspension tuning is unsorted and it does not inspire confidence, more so in the versions equipped with 13 inch wheels (the top model comes with 14 inch alloys).

Last edited by sidindica : 26th July 2009 at 18:27.
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Old 26th July 2009, 18:25   #15
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Handling and braking:
  • Hyundai getz: 6 /10
  • Hyundai I 20: 7 /10
  • Honda Jazz: 7 /10
  • Maruti Ritz: 6 /10
  • Maruti swift: 6 /10
  • Skoda Fabia: 8 /10
  • Chevrolet Aveo 5: 5/10
  • Tata Indica Vista: 4 /10
  • Fiat Punto: 8 /10
None of these cars are meant to handle like sporty roadsters but given their diminutive dimensions, some of them provide a nice driving experience.

The fiat punto easily has the best steering in this group. Superbly accurate and weighted, it responds to the driver’s command in exactly the manner that it is demanded. It feels communicated with the chassis at any speeds and this is one hatch that you will love to drive, save for the atrocious turning radius which make simple U turns 3 pointed ones.
Braking again is OK with ABS providing decent stopping times but the pedal feel is spongy and artificial.

Coming close second is the fabia. Again, the steering feel is amazing but what detracts from driving experience is the underpowered engine. Clearly, for a chassis like this, it cries for more power to extract its full potential.
Braking is better than the fiat overall with no complaints.

Maruti’s swift also handles superbly and is a favorite with tuners and enthusiasts alike due to its stiff suspension. But what detracts is again the EPS which has a bit of artificial feel and feels very light at low speeds, like it is disconnected with the chassis. Only when the speeds increase then the full potential of the chassis comes into effect with the steering being communicative.

Strange as it may sound, the ritz actually handles better than swift and for a tall boy, it handles pretty well. This EPS is better tuned than that of the swift’s and provides the driver with some degree of feedback at low and high speeds.
Braking, again in both marutis is similar but ABS kicks in early and pedal feels overservoed.

The hyundais are no nonsense, benign handling cars. They get the basics done but if you ask too much from the chassis, you will be disappointed. Handling is docile in both the getz and the i20 and it is the getz’s hydraulic unit that has a bit of better steering feel than the i20, whose MDPS feels artificial and disconnected to the chassis at high speeds.

Braking in I20 is better than the getz with short stoppage time. The getz with ABS provides decent stoppage times but again, pedal lacks feel.
Though Honda has equipped the jazz with a space efficient EPS, it handles well in the city and is pretty chuckable and actually fun to drive. Only at high speeds the chassis feels disconnected due to inconsistent steering feedback and feels pretty artificial again, as compared to punto.
Braking is good with ABS aiding in short stoppage distances.

The aveo has a typical daewoo chassis-completely devoid of any steering feel, even though it has hydraulic unit. It just doesn’t feel special enough to drive in bends and twisties and the steering reacts in almost opposite manner as commanded. Overall, a very dull driving experience. Braking with ABS is just OK with brake pads showing signs of fade pretty early.

It gets worse in the vista. Riding on short 13” wheels, body roll is imminent at twisties and it doesn’t encourage spirited driving.
Smooth sedate driving is all that required in the vista to get the basics right.
Braking, as expected is not-so-competent with wheels getting locked easily and rear end getting skittish and loosing composure under heavy braking.

Last edited by sidindica : 26th July 2009 at 18:27.
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