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The Honda Jazz RS may be the most practical and the Seat Ibiza is the most refined overall but the new Suzuki Swift displays a youthful spirit that guarantees smiles.

23 Aug 2018


Compact hatchbacks are one of the most popular forms of personal transport, anywhere in the world. With their compact size, they are typically cheaper to buy and cheaper to run, easy to drive and yet, offer enough space for a family of four to five.

In Singapore, the number of choices for a compact hatchback has recently grown, with the introduction of the new Suzuki Swift a month ago. At $83,900 the Swift is priced in between the $79,900 Seat Ibiza and the recently facelifted poster boy of the segment, the $88,999 Honda Jazz RS (as of 21st August 2018).

Does this mean that the Swift is a better car than the Ibiza? And how good is it next to the slightly larger Jazz RS? We spent a day finding out.

The Jazz RS (left), Ibiza (centre) and Swift are relatively fresh models that offer good value for money

Do looks matter?

While most buyers looking at a compact hatchback won't be too bothered by how it looks but rather how much car they're getting for the money, it can make or break the deal.

After all, first impressions count and in this aspect, the Jazz RS is the one that makes the strongest case. Its boxy shape, sharper body kit, and blacked out wheels and wing mirrors make it the sportiest-looking of the three.

However, those who prefer a more mature design would likely gravitate towards the Ibiza, which also looks like the most expensive car here. In the case of the Swift, let's just say we're slightly undecided over how it looks.

In RS guise, the Jazz is the sportiest one of the bunch and will appeal to younger buyers

But practicality takes precedence, right?

Well, of course, if space was of utmost priority with your purchase, then the Jazz RS would again be the best choice here. Despite the Ibiza having the largest wheelbase of 2,564mm, clever packaging within the Jazz RS makes it the car with the most spacious rear legroom and the airiest cabin.

The Jazz RS also offers the most amount of boot space, measuring 363 litres, which outsizes the Ibiza's 355 litres and drastically overshadows the Swift's 264 litres.

With 363 litres, the Jazz RS also offers the largest boot of the three

Wait, there's a catch…

While spaciousness does rank high in most people's lists of requirements, so should overall fit and finish, at least for us. And this is where the Jazz RS loses some of its otherwise outstanding appeal.

Compared to the Ibiza, which costs a good 10 grand less, the cabin panels in the Jazz are of less impressive quality and feel cheaper to the touch.

It is here that the former's European qualities come to shine, especially its high-resolution, touchscreen infotainment system, which is also the only one that's equipped with Apple CarPlay.

Not the sportiest or most spacious cabin here but the Ibiza has the best fit and finish

There also seems to be less sound dampening materials fitted in the Jazz RS compared to the Ibiza, which is probably why the strain of its engine is audibly noticeable from the driver's seat.

With the cabin of the Swift, its sportier, more youthful layout, is more pleasing to the eyes. But to be fair, the Swift is a much newer model targeted at a younger group of buyers. The one letdown in the Swift is its old-fashioned single-din head unit.

Another drawback of the Jazz RS, especially for the safety-conscious is that it only comes with two airbags, while its Seat and Suzuki rivals have six.

The racy cockpit design of the Swift will definitely appeal to petrolheads

What about how they drive?


On paper, the Jazz RS, with the highest horsepower rated at 129bhp, should be the fastest car in this comparison. But two things say otherwise: Its naturally aspirated engine, which is down on torque compared to the other two, and Honda's choice of a CVT transmission.

Due to the aforementioned factors, it is the Jazz RS that offers the least punch when you're pulling away from the lights. The Ibiza feels the quickest, with 200Nm of torque (despite having only 114bhp), and the Swift comes in a close second with 109bhp, 160Nm of torque and a sub-1,000kg kerb weight (it is the lightest car of the three).

The standard paddle shifters in the Swift complement its fun-to-drive characteristics

The Swift is also the most fun one to drive, offering a zippy experience that we especially enjoyed along Lim Chu Kang's backroads.

The Ibiza doesn't fare too badly either when thrown around corners, and it offers the most refined driving experience as well as the best fuel economy of 18.5km/L. The Jazz RS clocked 15.5km/L while the Swift did 14.1km/L (but probably because we were driving it a little more spiritedly).

Both the smoothest and most fuel economical, the dual-clutch transmission of the Ibiza has our vote

But what it lacks in performance, the Jazz RS makes up for with a ride that's softer-sprung than the Ibiza or Swift. While we wouldn't consider the latter two uncomfortable to be in, older folks may not be as accustomed to their sportier (read: stiffer) suspensions, especially in the back seat.

If only there was the perfect car...

The perfect combination would be the Jazz RS' cavernous cabin, the Ibiza's fit, finish and overall refinement, and the Swift's fun-to-drive characteristics.

But the perfect world doesn't exist and neither do perfect cars. If we were in our 20s, the perky Swift would be the one to have. If we were in our 30s and wanted to enjoy something a little fancier, the Ibiza would be our pick.

The super crisp and user-friendly infotainment sytem in the Ibiza will suit even cars two price brackets up

But when family duties are something we can't ignore, then the faithful Jazz RS would be the answer. Plus, at the very least, we'd be able to ferry the kids around in style.
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Facelift articles

The Honda Jazz keeps chugging on

22 Aug 2018

The facelifted Honda Jazz continues to deliver the practicality, comfort and familiarity that has been its enduring appeal.
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Car Information

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Price

: $83,999

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC

Engine Cap

:

1498cc

Horsepower

:

96kW (129 bhp) / 6600 rpm

Torque

:

155 Nm / 4600 rpm

Transmission

:

Earth Dreams CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.6sec

Top Speed

:

180km/h

Fuel consumption

:

17.8 km/L

spacer

Price

: $76,400

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder 12-valve

Engine Cap

:

999cc

Horsepower

:

85kW (114 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

200 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.5sec

Top Speed

:

193km/h

Fuel consumption

:

21.2 km/L

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Suzuki Swift 1.0 Standard (A)
Rate it

Price

: $68,900

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder 12-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

998cc

Horsepower

:

81kW (109 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

160 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

10sec

Top Speed

:

190km/h

Fuel consumption

:

17.5 km/L

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Tags :  

honda  honda jazz  honda jazz rs  seat  seat ibiza  suzuki  suzuki swift