At a time when an all-new Swift is around the corner (in all likelihood, September 2011), it perhaps does not make sense to compare the Liva with the outgoing model. But remember, Maruti Suzuki is still working full steam to produce Swifts – we Indians can’t have enough of it! So let’s go ahead anyway...
If you’re looking solely at the fun-to-drive factor, then the Swift is the winner. The Swift’s superbly balanced underpinnings make it an engaging car to drive and the four-cylinder K-series motor only takes it up a notch higher. The Liva is not too bad; the gearshift quality is good while the light body and grippy rubber make it a chuckable car. But the Liva’s steering feel and feedback is more tuned for comfort and ease of operation in tight spots, notwithstanding the leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sporty steering wheel! The ride quality offered by the Swift’s suspension is not as good as that of the Liva, but on the other hand, that’s what makes it a delight when it comes to corner carving. The Liva’s setup soaks up bumps better, of course. The engine of the Liva is a bit stressed compared to the Swift’s, especially at higher rpms. It is more tuned to do the city drive effortlessly and efficiently rather than thrill you to bits.
But there’s more to a car than just the fun factor, right? The Liva is more spacious and comfortable for rear passengers while the Swift is not. The quality of the plastics and switchgear is better in the Suzuki. And of course, we Indians love the way the Swift looks, though aesthetics never stopped us from lining up to buy the Etios. The main factor that worked for the sedan, and now for the hatchback will be that it’s a Toyota that’s affordable.
It is easy to give a verdict at this moment that the Swift is for those who enjoy driving while the Liva is for those who want a functional, spacious, cheap Toyota. But we’ll stick our necks out on this one: we’ll go for the Swift – this one or maybe even the one that’s just around the corner!