Hyundai launched the new ‘i-Gen’ i20 last month (March 2012). The new i20 will go head to head with the Volkswagen Polo among other cars; we pit the two against each other to find out which one is more value for money.

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The new i20 adopts Hyundai’s fluidic design theme though it retains the overall dimensions of the old i20. The i20 is one of the preferred premium hatchbacks in India, thanks to its attractive looks and a long list of creature comforts. The new i20 is a proper facelift model that has enough potential to attract as many if not more buyers than the old i20.

Volkswagen Polo has been in the Indian market for nearly two years. It is a solidly built hatchback with precise fit and finish that you expect from a German engineered vehicle. The Polo, despite its premium pricing and lack of features, finds a consistent number of buyers every month. Owing to the high demand for diesel premium hatchbacks, we will compare the Polo 1.2-litre diesel Highline with the new i20 1.4-litre diesel Asta.

Driving and handling

The Volkswagen Polo is powered by a 1.2-litre engine (three cylinders) that produces 74 bhp of power and 180 Nm of torque. The new i20 is powered by a 1.4-litre common-rail-direct-injection (CRDi) engine that produces 89 bhp of power and 220 Nm of torque. Clearly, the new i20 is the more powerful car and hence better to drive than the Polo. Also read: 7 reasons why the Hyundai iGen i20 is great car for its features

The new i20 has an advantage as the engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. An additional cog means a lot especially when driving on highways. It not only saves fuel, but also helps thrust the car to higher speeds. This, together with i20’s higher power and torque make it a better highway hatchback than the Polo.

When it comes to handling, the Polo and the i20 come with electric power steering systems that are great for city driving, but fail to inspire confidence at highway speeds. The Polo does exhibit vertical movement, especially when pushed around corners at high speeds. But on average speeds, the Polo’s low slung body and well tuned suspension setup can put a smile on your face. Assuming Hyundai has retained the same suspension setup in the new i20, we feel it will offer decent ride quality and average handling which are best suited for sedate drivers.

Overall, the i20’s engine is more drivable when compared to the Polo while the Polo may have an edge over the i20 in terms of handling.

Space and Comfort

The Hyundai i20 has the best interior space, with good rear-seat comfort and an almost flat floor allowing three passengers to fit in easily. Boot space is one of the largest at around 295 litres. The Polo is longer than the new i20, but that doesn’t translate into great interior space. Rear seat space is slightly compromised though the Polo’s 280 litre boot is more than adequate. Comfort wise, both the premium hatchbacks offer commendable headroom, legroom and seats with good cushioning. However, at the rear, the i20 feels a bit more comfortable than the Polo. Also see our Volkswagen Polo video review.

Overall, the interior space offered in the Polo is adequate but still not as good as the i20, and comfort wise too, the i20 has a slight edge.

Looks

The Polo may look simple and composed, but it has elements that make you feel that the car is built like a tank and is going to last for long. Even on the inside, the Polo looks a bit dated with its conventionally designed dashboard but what really impresses is the quality of materials, fit and finish.

The new i20 gets a fluidic front, clamshell bonnet and hexagonal lower air dam. The refreshed headlamp and fog lamp design, give the new i20 a sporty look. The new i20 also features new alloy wheels, chrome door handles, a refreshed tail lamp cluster and reflectors integrated into the rear bumper.  The interiors of the new i20 are lot more refreshing with the dual tone (grey-beige) treatment.

Features

On comparing the top-end variants, the Polo Highline and i20 Asta are both equipped with alloy wheels, ABS, dual airbags, fog lamps, music system, 60:40 split rear seats, parcel tray, all four power windows and height adjustable driver seats.

However, the i20 Asta gets some more creature comforts such as a engine start/stop button, rear camera with display on ECM (Electro chromatic mirror), rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, cluster ionizer (air freshener), Bluetooth connectivity, front driver armrest, steering mounted audio & Bluetooth controls which are not offered in the Polo.

The new i20 wins hands down, when it comes to features not just against Polo, but all other hatchbacks in its segment.

Price, mileage and VFM

The Polo diesel Highline is priced at Rs. 7.36 lakh which is Rs. 18,000 less than the Hyundai i20 diesel Asta priced at Rs. 7.44 lakh. With regard to mileage, the Polo has a claimed mileage of 22.7 kmpl, while the new i20 has a claimed mileage of 21.9 kmpl. The i20, with its 6-speed transmission might help achieve a mileage closer to the claimed mileage. Hence, there is no clear winner.

Summing up, the new i20, though priced higher than the Polo, offers more features and returns a mileage close to that of the Polo. Hence, the i20 is still better ‘value for money’ than the Polo.

Pros and Cons

ModelProsCons
Hyundai i-Gen i20Fluidic designSlightly over priced
Big list of featuresSlightly lesser fuel economy
Spacious and comfortableLack of outright performance and handling
Volkswagen PoloSharp looksLack of features despite premium price
Fit and finishRear passenger space
Build qualityService and maintenance costs

Verdict

If you want a premium hatchback with a spacious cabin, lots of features and good performance, go for the new i20. However, if you want a safe premium hatchback with solid interiors, precise fit and finish, decent performance and mileage, go for the Polo.