Two popular small cars in India, the Hyundai i10 NextGen and the new Maruti WagonR ‘Blue Eyed Boy” – which of the two is the car for you?
Small car buyers in India today are spoilt for choice with almost 30 hatchback models to choose from. And with each of these models and variants sporting a long list of features – most of them similar – picking the right one for your needs does become a daunting task.
Take, for instance, the Maruti WagonR and Hyundai i10. Both of them fall in the “practical, reliable car” category and you’d hardly go wrong with either of these. The WagonR has been around since almost a decade, and is one of the best sellers in Maruti’s portfolio with over 14,000 units sold every month. The recent face-lift has only made the WagonR more likable. Also read: Maruti WagonR road test
The Hyundai i10, on the other hand, was launched in November 2007, a good 5 years after the WagonR did. And like its rival, the i10 was an instant hit. In September 2010, Hyundai launched the new-gen i10, fortifying it with a lot more convenient features and a comprehensive, though not dramatic, makeover. Suggested read: Hyundai i10 Kappa2 Next Gen road tested
So which of these two really is the better small car? Let’s find out.
Tall boy cars are always designed keeping practicality in mind. The real challenge, though, is to make them appear more attractive and less boxy. The WagonR’s large front fascia comprises a long hood, prominent nose grille, blue tint on the top edge of the headlamps, large air dam and bold Suzuki logo.
However, the broad height and higher shoulder lines do not quite hide the car’s boxy stance. Indians love chrome and Maruti Suzuki knows it well as the rear of the new WagonR comes with a thick horizontal chrome strip with ‘WagonR’ letters inscribed on it.
The Hyundai i10, meanwhile, has somewhat of a ‘safe’ design – something that’s neither too modern nor too conservative. Hyundai’s migration to a fluidic design sculpture has helped the company achieve a standard look across all its models.
The radiator grille, angular headlights and fog lamps, and reshaped front bumper combine to form a hexagonal design – a theme that will find its way on to all future models from Hyundai. The tail lamps and rear bumper of the i10 also look similar to the i20’s. Overall, while the i10’s styling is bold and aggressive, Hyundai has ensured that it doesn’t scream for attention.
Winner: The i10 has a more contemporary and modern styling though the WagonR looks smart too. The choice, then, depends on individual tastes.
The Wagon-R shares many parts and features with the Swift hatchback, namely the steering wheel and gear knob. The high-seating position of the driver offers a commanding view of the road ahead.
The central console has neatly laid out buttons; however the narrow AC vents could have been designed better for faster cooling. WagonR being the larger of the two cars has more headroom and legroom, especially for the rear passengers. Boot space, however, is just 180 litres while the i10 offers better space with 225-litres. Other nifty features in the WagonR include cupholders integrated into the dashboard, a handy shopping tray under the front passenger seat, speaker slots on all 4 doors, optional ABS and airbags.
The i10’s interior has a premium feel to it. The chunky, three-spoke steering wheel offers a firm grip and the gear stick, integrated to the central console, is better positioned than the WagonR’s. The front seats offer good thigh support but the second row seat is strictly for two passengers. Specials such as outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) with integrated turn lights are standard. Besides, the i10 has two 12V power sockets, height-adjustable driver seat, gear shift indicator, reverse parking sensor, foldable key with keyless entry and steering-mounted buttons.
Winner: Though the WagonR is more spacious, the i10’s ergonomics and comfortable front seats make it a great city car.
Engine and performance
The WagonR is powered by the 1-litre K-Series engine that produces 67 bhp of maximum power at 6,200 rpm and 90 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm. The 3-cylinder engine doesn’t feel as peppy under 2,000 rpm despite the short 1st and 2nd gearing, forcing the driver to make frequent gear shifts in slow moving city traffic.
However, mid-range acceleration is slightly better and driving in the 3rd and 4th gear is far more relaxed. Beyond 4,000 rpm, though, the engine begins to sound stressed and the noise finds its way into the cabin. What’s disheartening is that beyond 110 km/hr the engine just refuses to run smoothly.
Technically, the i10’s 1.2-litre Kappa engine is more powerful than the WagonR’s, producing 79 bhp of maximum power at 6,000 rpm and 112 Nm of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm. It also comes with a 1.1-litre SOHC petrol engine (same as in the Hyundai Santro) that produces 68 bhp of maximum power at 5,500 rpm and 99 Nm of maximum torque at 4,500. The engines are mated to a 5-speed gearbox while a 4-speed automatic transmission is also available with the 1.2-litre engine variant.
The 1.2 litre engine’s strength lies in its decent low range and strong mid range which makes the i10 as effortless to drive in city as on the highway. Besides, it is so refined there’s hardly any engine noise intruding into the cabin below 5,000 rpm. Gear shifts are easy and slot into place precisely. The first three gear ratios have been kept short for city drivability. The engine’s performance at higher speeds such as 120 km/hr is also quite good.
Winner: The WagonR drives well in slow stop-and-go city traffic but if you want a more refined and peppy performance, then opt for the i10 with the 1.2-litre engine.
Ride and handling
The Hyundai i10’s suspension is set firm at the front and soft at the rear. Hence the ride is good when driven over minor undulations. However, the ride feels bumpy over large potholes, especially for rear passengers. The i10’s sharp steering and precise gear shifts make it an easier car to dart through gaps. On highways, one needs to be extra careful as the thin-profile tyres lack grip and do not inspire high-speed driving confidence.
The WagonR’s suspension soaks up moderate-sized bumps and potholes. However, body roll can be felt easily even while making turns at slow speeds. The steering, similar to the one in the Maruti Swift, is easy to grip and turn. Besides, Maruti has significantly improved the gear shifts, making it easy to drive in slow traffic. The skinny tyres and height of the car aren’t inspiring during long drives.
Winner: The i10 has a slight edge over the WagonR as it gives a composed ride at moderate speeds and also handles well for mundane city driving as well as occasional long drives.
On paper, the i10 has a claimed mileage of 20.4 km/litre and the WagonR falls behind at 18.9 km/litre. However, real-world mileage figures tell a different tale with the WagonR delivering close to 17 kmpl while the i10 returns around 16 kmpl.
Winner: Maruti’s K-Series engine is more frugal than the i10’s Kappa mill.
The Maruti WagonR is spacious, has a highly frugal and reliable engine, above average ride quality and competitive handling. The Hyundai i10, on the other hand, looks smart, comes loaded with features and is a pleasure to drive.
The Maruti Suzuki WagonR comes in 4 variants: Lx, Lxi (Lxi Duo – LPG), Lxi CNG and Vxi, with prices ranging from Rs. 3.37 lakh to Rs. 4.22 lakh. The Hyundai i10, on the other hand, is available in 5 trim levels: D-Lite, Era, Magna, Sportz and Asta, and starts at a more expensive Rs. 4.19 lakh going all the way up to Rs. 5.26 lakh.
The i10, thus, starts at a price where the top-end WagonR’s price ends. If it’s value for money you want, then the WagonR impresses and it makes for a great overall package. However, the i10’s premium pricing also gets justified considering the better quality interiors, and peppy and refined engine.
Technical Specifications of Maruti WagonR and Hyundai i10
|Car||Maruti WagonR||Hyundai i10|
|Starting Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs. 3.37 lakh*||Rs. 4.19 lakh*|
|Mileage||17 km/litre*||15 km/litre*|
|Fuel capacity||35 litres||35 litres|
|Ground clearance (mm)||165||165|
|Boot space (litres)||180||225|
|Engine CC||998 cc K-series||1197 cc Kappa2|
|No. of cylinders||3||4|
|Power||68 bhp @ 6200 rpm||79 bhp @ 6000 rpm|
|Torque||90 Nm @ 3200 rpm||112 Nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual||5-speed manual/4-speed automatic|
|Tyre size||145/80 R13||155/80 R13|