As far as small cars go in Taiwan, the best on offer is the Toyota Yaris with a versatile interior that can make lots of room for four, with almost as much leg room as a Camry, but with a tiny boot/trunk when being used for legroom. The rear seats can slide forward though allowing for a larger boot if needed. Toyota will be the best for reliability and fuel consumption and the ride is very good, if not slightly spoiled by engine noise at higher revs. There is the option to change the cheap plastic grey interior trim to the shiny black which is on the s model, but there isn’t a simply way to change the entire strip on the door trim, resulting in a slight mis match between dash board shiny black and door grey.
The Swift is probably the best value for money car of the ones you mentioned, with a sportier ride and handling than both the other cars, but with a more limited amount of interior leg room, and less versatile interior than the Toyota. The Swift has a nicer put together feel than the Toyota too, although the Yaris of late has been tinkered with and fits together a little better than earlier models. The Swift can come with climate control whereas the Yaris version is unavailable.
The Nissan Livina is a car I haven’t scrutinized yet, but initial reports are of a nice quiet ride with plenty of interior space, although not quite as good in the economy section managing about 7.2-litres per 100km, which isn’t bad, but you can bet that’s probably a lot better than reality. The Swift would better that, and then the Yaris would top them both.
The Livina also apears to have a slight niggle which is that you can only seem to fit four people with luggage and six people with with no more than a handbag. It also has no slide panel door at the side which would allow the better use of the mid compartment for loading. I’m dubious as to the usefulness of the vehicle really and would probably go for the Mazda 5 for practicality. Imagine too that Livina packed with people and a tiny engine. Only the largest 1.8l of the engines would do without screaming around at low speed. So small engine for economy with no pull for loading (which defeats the reason for the size really), or large engine for loading people, but with no luggage space for carrying more than four people? It seems easy to me,don’t buy one!
Quality wise, I would put my money on both Suzuki and Toyota being the more reliable of the three and with the Lavina being an altogether new model in the range I would let it run for a while whilst the niggles are worked out on Taiwan’s roads. If you want something with a lot more room then I would recommend the Mazda 5 which is versatile, a good ride with good reliability and at a reasonable price.
Have you looked at the Suzuki SX4?
It’s a model available in Taiwan although completely assembled in Japan. It comes with six airbags, an interior similar to the smaller Swift and is a great ride on Taiwan’s bumpy roads. Although it is only available in Taiwan with front 2 wheel drive, the larger tyres and slightly taller suspention make for a very smooth and responsive drive on the poor road surfaces here and I have found it so far to be one of the best rides in town. It is heavier on fuel than the smaller Swift, but I think worth the extra pennies. It’s a larger car than the Swift, but with most of the extra interior room being taken up in the boot/trunk. Check it out if you haven’t already. It only comes in one option in Taiwan, with auto windows, doors, CD stereo, cloth interior, climate control, six airbags and the other conveniences. It’s a good price too at about the same as an upper range Yaris.