Liva vs Swift: A close call for Swift or is it?

Just before the Toyota Etios Liva was launched, there was expectation that it would offer tough competition for the Swift. And then Maruti launched the new Swift with even more improvements.

Liva, Toyota’s first attempt at cracking the small car market in India, promises to offer great space and good mileage at a good price. Swift already offers these, well, the exception of space. Plus it has excellent handling.

liva vs swift

So which of the two – the Maruti Suzuki Swift or the Toyota Etios Liva is the better car overall?

Driving and handling

This has been Swift’s forte. Well-sorted chassis and wide tracks have made it the best handling car in the segment. The new Swift handles even better than the earlier version, and the petrol variant has a slightly more powerful engine. The petrol Swift has a 1.2 litre engine which puts out 86 bhp of power and 114 Nm of torque with a smooth shifting five-speed gearbox. The sharp steering and stiff suspension makes this a great car to drive. Even the diesel variant, with its 1.3 litre, 75 bhp engine, that puts out 190 Nm of torque, drives well.

But Liva is no slouch either—it too has pretty sharp handling. However, it’s not as powerful in terms of engine power. The petrol Toyota Etios Liva is powered by a 1.2 litre engine that puts out 79 bhp of power and 104 Nm of torque. The gearbox is smooth and the gear ratios are well-suited for city driving. It allows you to shift up faster and can pull easily in each gear. It does not feel as sporty as the Swift.

Overall, in terms of driving and handling the Swift is a better car than the Toyota Etios Liva.

Space and comfort

With Liva, Toyota never set out to create a Mini Cooper for Indians. Step inside the Liva, and you have a sense of “space” that some of the bigger sedans struggle to deliver. Swift with its cramped rear seats and smaller glass (window) area can feel a bit claustrophobic by comparison. Liva carries five people in great comfort. Swift doesn’t—it is best meant for four adults, that too if they don’t have long legs.

In terms of space and comfort, the Toyota Etios Liva is better than the Swift.

Looks

Swift’s success has much to do with its good—lovable—looks. Though the basic look remains the same, the new Swift is a bit more chiseled, has bit more presence, and with its somewhat larger dimensions, appeals to an even wider set of buyers.

Liva, which shares many of its features with the Etios sedan, has a bit more presence than its sedan sibling, but still is really no match for the Swift. Cost-cutting is visible on Liva’s insides in form of tacky plastics and wafer-thin seats, while the new Swift actually improves on reasonably good interiors. Here too, Swift wins hands down.

Overall, the Swift is a better package in terms of looks as well as fit and finish than the Toyota Etios Liva.

Features

Maruti has loaded the new Swift with plenty of features. In the diesel line up it has added a ZDI variant to match the petrol ZXI variants specifications. The ZDI/ZXI variants come with automatic climate control, electric mirrors, tilt-steering, integrated CD/USB audio system with steering audio controls, ABS, alloy wheels and two airbags.

Even the lower variants of the Swift such as the LXI get power steering. The VXI adds a tachometer and power windows. The Toyota Etios Liva, in comparison, doesn’t offer much. The base variant does not have power steering. The top variants don’t have features such as a multi-info display, electric mirrors or climate control – features that the Swift has.

In terms of features offered, the Swift is better than the Etios Liva.

Price, mileage and overall value for money

Variant for variant, the Maruti Swift is slightly cheaper than the Toyota Etios Liva, except for the base variant. Prices for the petrol variants of the Maruti Swift start at Rs. 4.2 lakh and go up to Rs. 5.50 lakh for the top-end Swift petrol. The Toyota Etios Liva petrol range starts at Rs. 4 lakh and goes up to Rs. 5.99 lakh.

When it comes to mileage, the petrol Swift has a claimed mileage of 18.6 kmpl to the Liva’s 18.4 kmpl. They’re both extremely good. Among the diesel variants, however, the Etios Liva diesel has a bit of an advantage, with Toyota claiming 24 kmpl for the diesel Liva, while the Swift diesel gives a claimed 22.9 kmpl.

Though the Etios Liva offers slightly higher mileage than the Swift the difference is too small to actually justify the price premium you pay for the Liva, given that the Swift also has more features variant for variant. In terms of running cost, the Etios Liva may be better in the long run.

The Liva petrol, even it delivers 15 kmpl in real-world conditions – and that’s a big if – will deliver Rs 4.3 per kilometer. Swift diesel, at 17 kmpl, has a running cost of Rs 2.5 per km. Swift petrol, on the other hand, at 14 kmpl, has a running cost of Rs 4.5 per kilometer (which is actually a little higher than Etios).

Overall, this makes the Swift more value for money than the Liva, but only marginally, given the Etios Liva’s good mileage claims.

Pros and cons

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Verdict

While the above analysis seems to suggest that, for now, we could safely ignore the existence of Liva, this would be an incorrect conclusion. Swift holds a lot of cards but Liva has one that might matter to lots of people. If it’s your only car, as is the case with lots of us, and you often 5 people to carry, then it’s hard to beat Liva. But that alone might not be sufficient to challenge the market leader.