Head to head: Hyundai i20 vs Suzuki Swift

Head to head: Hyundai i20 vs Suzuki Swift
Head to head: Hyundai i20 vs Suzuki Swift

The established Hyundai takes on the latest small Suzuki hatchback

We’ve got used to Suzuki offering remarkable value for money, even when adding kit and equipment, as in this SZ5 version of the Swift. However, in this case the Hyundai i20, even though this special version comes with a turbocharger and tons of equipment, is not only more powerful, it’s also cheaper. But all that’s on paper. What happens on the road?

Driving experience

Hyundai i20 1.0 T-GDI 100 Turbo Edition

Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Price: £13,275
Power; 98bhp
Torque: 127lb/ft
0-60mph: 9.8sec
Top speed: 116mph
Economy: 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Both these cars will probably be bought with at least one eye on driving in cities, and here they both do well. The Suzuki has a very mild hybrid system which is designed to help things get going at low speed rather than to run on electricity alone. And it works, giving a bit of an extra shove in the first couple of gears.

Around town it feels the nippier of the two although things balance out much more evenly at higher speeds, such as on the motorway. Both cars perform quite adequately there, although both are noisier than desirable, the Suzuki with wind noise at speed and the Hyundai with engine noise when putting it under pressure.

When it comes time to actually turn the steering wheel, the Swift responds with a more natural feeling, making it easier in traffic. In theory the i20 should win the handling stakes since it controls lean more and soaks up bumps better, but somehow the softer approach of the Swift seems to work out better. It leans more but it’s also the more engaging and responsive drive. Neither is exactly up to Ford Fiesta levels, but both are far above being just comfortable at city speeds.

Interior

Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS SZ5

Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Price: £14,499
Power; 110bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 125lb ft @ 1700-4000rpm
0-60mph: 9.4sec
Top speed: 121mph
Economy: 65.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 97g/km

Inside they both offer impressive levels of room front and rear, considering their exterior dimensions. Four people can travel reasonably comfortably, with the front pair being well looked after in either car. The Hyundai has the larger boot, and has an adjustable floor, so it’s a bit more practical and adaptable.

Suzuki’s budget approach is obvious in the choice of materials in the cabin. The Hyundai feels and looks higher quality, and this version comes with a seven-inch touchscreen as standard. It works very well and intuitively but it’s odd that you can’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto mirroring, even as an option. That’s standard on the Suzuki, which also has a seven-inch screen, albeit one that’s not quite so high-resolution.

That awareness of cost-cutting when you’re in the Suzuki cabin is made worse when you realise that the Hyundai costs about £1,200 less. After haggling, that differential is like to rise even further, to around £1,500, depending on your ability to negotiate.

Running costs

There’s not a lot in it for company car buyers, but private buyers might like the lower depreciation of the Suzuki, as well as the slightly better fuel consumption. But all that doesn’t offset the higher initial price, nor the higher servicing costs not the definitely higher insurance premiums. Over three years you’re looking at an extra expense of around £1000 compared to the Hyundai i20.

But Suzuki would point out that automatic emergency braking and automatic high beam assist are both standard, unlike on the i20. And Suzuki then throws in adaptive cruise control, climate control, a reversing camera and LED lights, as well as a whole host of other kit that the Hyundai has. Out-kitting the i20 is quite an achievement, but the Suzuki Swift manages it with some distance to spare.

Verdict

However, while all that is in the Suzuki’s favour, it’s hard to ignore the higher costs, the lower quality and less impressive infotainment.

The Hyundai i20 is well equipped in its own right, has more space, more flexibility and practicality, and feels better built. The fact that it can undercut the Suzuki on both outright price and running costs means that it’s a decent winner here.

Living with: Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio

Can Alfa Romeo really make a BMW M3-beater?There’s nothing like living with a car to find out what it’s really like. The road testers

Review: Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus

There are some surprising oversights but they don’t stop Audi’s stunning drop-top appealingYou could save yourself £25,000

Review: Porsche 911 GT2 RS

A racing driver describes this 911 as ‘ridiculous’. ExcellentThere we were, minding our own business at Silverstone, when the winner

Review: Skoda Kodiaq Scout

The dearest model in the Kodiaq lineup is fully loaded on kit, but what about ability?SUVs look like they should be handy off road, but the