Feature

New Suzuki Swift vs Hyundai i20

The latest version of Suzuki’s small hatchback faces a plethora of rivals. First up, it’s the Hyundai i20

Words ByWhat Car? team

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New Hyundai i20 vs Suzuki Swift

The contenders

Hyundai i20 1.0 T-GDi 100 Turbo Edition

List price Β£13,275

Target Price Β£12,963

The i20 is roomy, well equipped and amazingly keenly priced, with good performance.


Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS SZ5

List price Β£14,499

Target Price Β£14,499

So lavishly equipped that it could be even better value for money than the i20.


Suzuki is a car maker that understands value for money; all of its models offer generous equipment at competitive prices. Its all-new Swift is no different, undercutting the main players in the small hatchback class by thousands of pounds, yet it still has many of the latest safety and infotainment features as standard.

But according to Hyundai, two can play at that game. As with the range-topping SZ5 Swift we’re testing, Hyundai’s i20 Turbo Edition has a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, while also coming with an impressive list of equipment, all for even less money.


What are they like to drive?

Hyundai’s engine is completely conventional, but Suzuki’s features a mild hybrid system. This doesn’t allow for you to drive the car on electric power alone but instead aids the engine at low revs to improve performance.

It works, too, because the Swift feels gutsier than the i20, proved by the fact that it accelerates up to speed more quickly from low revs in the higher gears. That said, work both engines hard on the open road and the Swift isn’t noticeably faster; indeed, it pipped the i20 by less than 0.5sec in our 0-60mph test. So, both cars are comfortable sprinting down motorway slip roads and overtaking slow traffic on B-roads.

The Swift’s engine sounds more restrained, although at higher speeds that would-be peace is spoiled by too much wind flutter. The i20’s engine generates more noise and vibration when accelerating, but it’s the quieter car at a steady 70mph cruise, its manual gearshift is more precise and its clutch and brake pedals are more positively weighted.

Hyundai and Suzuki both fit 16in alloy wheels to these trim levels, and both cars do a decent job of smoothing over bumpy roads, but don’t expect quite the comfort you’d get from the Skoda Fabia. The i20 has a choppier ride over smaller ruts and bumps but keeps its body better controlled than the Swift’s over large obstructions, such as speed bumps and potholes, and the i20’s suspension always goes about its business more quietly.

Being the firmer car also helps the i20 to stay more upright through tight corners, so it’s a shame that the way its steering weights up feels rather artificial. The Swift has lighter steering, which is handy around town, but it’s also more precise. And despite exhibiting a little more body lean in corners than the i20, the Swift is actually the more enjoyable to drive. Neither delivers the sharp, rewarding handling of top rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, though.

Next: What are they like inside? >

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