Dejan Jovanovic: Imran, this should be right up your alley; we're testing two cars built in India with the Asian markets in mind.
Imran Malik: Why is that right up my alley?
DJ: Because, um, you're Asian?
Imran: I was born in the UK and my parents are from Africa, you racist.
DJ: I'm not racist. I love chicken korma.
IM: What are you on about India for, did the heat get to you? Nissan and Suzuki are both Japanese companies! D
J: Yes, but they're both manufactured in India these days, at least the Swift and the Micra are.
IM: Whatever, let's just be as Swift as we can about this, yeah? Did you see what I did there…
DJ: Very clever. Have you seen Micra? I mean my car?
IM: All right, enough. The Swift costs way more than your Nissan, and for the extra cash, you get a much better car. There, I'm done.
DJ: Not so fast. Can you first explain to me why you brought along a considerably more expensive car to this shoot-out anyway?
IM: The idea is that the Swift is the most fun you can have with a car in this supermini segment. It's always had the best chassis, easily rivalling the still-even-more-expensive Ford Fiesta. What's more, Nissan keeps going on about the fun factor when it comes to its new Micra.
DJ: They do, don't they? It's available in a range of colours, 10 in fact, and they're not all just shades of grey either. You can pick from a bright red, orange, blue, lime green and a classy purple. The interior is also designed with a ‘bubble' theme. Fine, so that's not my idea of fun as I prefer accurate steering, a willing chassis and an engine that thrives somewhere north of the red line. And I'll give it to you, you probably have all that in the Swift, right?
IM: You bet. Last year Suzuki updated this car and actually made it a bit longer, which can only be a good thing for road-holding and stability, while not taking anything away from the Swift's loveable corner chuckability. There is also a new engine on offer. It's a 1.5-litre, which is as big as yours, but it's buzzier and more eager throughout the rev range.
DJ: Wish I could say the same of my Micra. Getting it up to speed is a chore, even if I have exactly the same number of horsepower for a 99bhp total from this 1.5-litre motor. It's the same lump they stick in the new Sunny, also Indian-manufactured. The four-speed automatic gearbox is lethargic, yet when you floor it and just keep the rev needle bouncing up and down, you can actually force out a smile every once in a while.
IM: So your fun is limited to that ridiculous green colour?
DJ: Right, I don't feel insecure about my manliness in this car. No, really, I don't. And anyway, Nissan nailed it when it comes to the steering feel, because considering its rivals, the Micra's tiller is taut in the centre and precise in the corners. The tyres let it down sooner than the chassis to be honest. And the suspension set-up is slanted towards comfort, which is right there at the top of the class. I can skim speed bumps without braking, and on the highway the car settles into a cruise as a much heavier car would. And it weighs less than a tonne by the way, so however deprived of sporting talent that engine may be, I win out at the pumps in the end, averaging seven or so litres-per-100km.
IM: You're right about the Swift — it offers far more of a spirited drive while the new motor is also more efficient than the one before. But that's not all. If you think your Micra is fun to look at, just have a butcher's at that Suzuki's front end. It's actually smiling at you. And you haven't had a blast in this one yet either, but when you do, you'll agree that this front-wheel-drive hatch is a joy to drive. Your passengers will enjoy sitting in comfort too. OK, relative comfort, but it is roomier than the Micra. It has also got a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, not to mention a USB port in here and power everything! Touch that steering wheel. Feel that? That's leather that is. Have you got that?
DJ: I'm a vegan. Leather is murder.
IM: No, you're poor, so you can't afford red meat, and leather steering wheels. Anyway, I've got Bluetooth in here too and fog lamps out there! And look, let's be honest, the Swift doesn't just look more sturdy than your Micra, it actually is. You'll get battered around by passing traffic in your Nissan, but my Suzuki is built like a brick. OK, a pebble, but you know what I mean. It has ABS and EBD too. And it has 16in alloys, while your tyres look like one-dirham coins! I bet yours doesn't even have airbags. Mine does. Front and side-curtain airbags, actually, to keep me safe and sound from hooligans like you…
DJ: I have dual front airbags only. You need curtain airbags because your head's gigantic. Now let's talk torque.
IM: I hope you don't mean brown paper bags that you buy your fruit in. Anyway, mine has 133Nm at 4,000rpm. That's not much…
DJ: That's nothing compared to what the Micra has — 134Nm at 4,000rpm.
IM: They're both figures you'd hardly want to shout about aren't they?
DJ: 134 NEWTON METRES OF TORQUE!
IM: Are you 10 years old? I have to say I am glad the Micra is finally here in our region. Back in the UK, every other car was a Micra when I was growing up. They weren't exactly cars to be seen in, but one thing is for sure, nobody is going to miss you on your ride home in this…
DJ: The Swift is a lot better equipped and built, for sure, but you're looking at a 20 per cent premium, or more, on top of the Micra's price. For many buyers that simply rules it out completely. The Nissan could do with the multi-functional steering you get in the Sunny, but instead of that they opted for keyless entry and a start button. Local dealers are even offering a body kit, and there is a handy storage pocket underneath the front passenger seat cushion. Those are nice touches…
IM: Wow, you're being so sensible and mature for a change…
DJ: Your head's big.
IM: Ah, back to normal again…
DJ: So what have we decided?
IM: They're both pretty good at doing what they're supposed to — and that's being fun to drive and cheap to own. It's just that the Suzuki is better. Neither is going to break the bank in the long run and you'll get plenty of stress-free motoring too. But, I'll have the Swift thank you very much, because for one I don't need the extra attention, and two, it's painted Everton blue.
DJ: Me too, but I'll take mine in red. Just because I hate you.
IM: I hate you more.