The Indian hatchback segment can be categorised into two classes. One is the basic hatcback which serves just the purpose, like a Tata Indica and the premium hatchbacks like the i20 and the newly launched Polo. Today we have got an interesting comparison among the existing hatchbacks and the new Polo. Its play time again, because the “Das Auto” group have done a marvellous market study and have come to the conclusion that to attract Indian customers, Small cars are the next big things. Hence Polo was launched, and it considerably created lot of hype among the public, as Internationally, Polo is the Golf family which is known for its performance and reliability. Its a challenging task for all the car makers to bring in the right product to emerging car markets like India. Will Ritz, Punto and i20 stand up to the newly launched Polo’s killer looks and performance? Lets explore over here!!
Styling and Design
Funkiness is not liked by all people, as many of them stick to conventional designs. But nowadays, the things are changing and every car tries to boasts itself that it is unique! Ritz, is no exception. Maruti Suzuki has cleverly diferentiated its car from Swift, for instance, thee rear of Ritz tail lamp is sculpted like a Boomerang, I would say somewhere in side angles Ritz has a hip, very much new for Indian hatchbacks, and this same design has fetched love it or hate it kind of looks. The car is narrower than Punto, Polo and i20 and is taller too, welcoming tall riders, who might find the other cars, shorter for their heads. Leg rooms are ample facilitating easy ingress and egress. On the exterior, the bonnet is very much bare, lacks the Swift’s machoness. Also the front air vents which lengthens the front face is not so eye-catchy either. On the sides, the aerodynamic body line allows minimal side view for the rear bench users. Fiat Punto, with a prominent bonnet than the other cars compared here, is a sure head turner and absolutely an Italian design. The headlamps looks focused and the silvery front grille unlike the boring black themes of the recent trends, gives a very fresh look while the Punto’s christmas tree like mounted tail lamp is attractive with selective colors like black or red. High mounted rear wind shield blocks the driver’s vision while taking reverse. Punto is very much premium, you can infer this by looking at the exterior thick skins and the solid “thud” sound that you get from closing the doors. Coming to the new Polo, on every angle cries out loud ” I am European”. Clearly Volkswagen trademark front grille, the sharp stern looking headlamps and the aptly poised fog lamps are good to look at . The fenders arching the wheels are meaner. The aerodynamic design cues gradually reduce the glass house area, especially for the back row passengers. The well-receptive rear view has high mounted rear glass, middle mounted Maruti Zen like tail lamps and smartly cut rear bumper. The recent trends, doesn’t allow us to freely choose cars based only on the performance factors. That is why, looks matter a lot. Polo with its international design cues invites more people towards the Volkswagen family.Hyundai i20′s design speaks of itself. With Hyundai’s new stylish Korean facelifts in its international cars, i20 could be said very much international car on Indian road. There seems to be no flaw in the well planted design. The smooth edges and buldges justifying the water flow theme and the broad and most symmetrical smile that i20 bears on its front impresses much than a Indica Vista or a Ritz. On the exterior, Hyundai i20 scores more than Punto, than Vista or a Ritz.
On the interiors, Ritz has so many Swift elements into it. Well, Maruti is cleverly following a successful design. Although the wheelbase is 30mm shorter, the tall boy model and seating angles does give a roomy interior. Polo is quite dull looking, inspite of its smarter layout, may be the thinner spokes of the steering, fail to give a solid feel, otherwise, there is nothing to complain, neither praise of the Polo’s interior layout. i20 has more comfort for 4 adults, but put 3 into the rear only to find shoulders dashing against each other. Punto has superb front seats and legroom but with less thigh support, the newly sculpted steering is a delight to hold. But Punto falls short in rear leg room as well as head room. The ceiling curves downwards and that is where shortens the height above the rear seat. i20 cabin is spacious in both rows but the rear seat is firm and thus lacks the extra comfort. The dashboard is best to look in i20 with the amber back lights decorating. Steering mounted buttons too are good. Fiat Punto looks quite dull inside the cabin. Fit and finish does have some aspects to be improved.
Maruti Ritz has 4 cylinder K12M unit producing 85/6000 PS/rpm and 113/3500 Nm/rpm. With overall mileage of 16.1 kmpl, it is pretty much decent. Ritz is also available with 1.3 litre diesel producing 75ps@4000 rpm peak power and 190 Nm@ 2000 rpm. Volkswagen Polo is powered by a 1.2 L diesel engine gives out 75 PS @ 4200 rpm of peak power and a maximum torque of 180 Nm @ 2000 rpm . The petrol variant is equipped with a 1.2 litre engine with an output of 75HP @ 5400 rpm and a Torque of 110NM @ 3750 rpm. Fiat Punto is powered by 1172cc 4 cylinder in-line engine that generates 67 bhp@6000 rpm of peak power and 9.76 kgm at 2500 rpm of peak torque. Punto’s 1.3 L (1248 cc) diesel engine produces 76 PS @ 4000 rpm and a peak torque of 197 Nm @ 1750 rpm. Hyundai i20′s petrol heart is actually a 1197cc engine that generates a peak power of 79 bhp at 5200 rpm and a peak torque of 11.4 kgm @ 4000 rpm. The 1.4 litre CRDi diesel engine of i20 produces 89 bhp and a little above 22 kgm of torque. While i20 top speed is up to 153 kmph for petrol variant and 163 kmph while the mileage figures are 14 for petrol and 16 for diesel. Punto almost gives the same mileage as i20, and the top speed is 144 kmph for petrol variant and 153 kmph for diesel. Ritz tops above 160 kmph mark, while Polo too goes above 160 kmph in petrol variants and both these cars can go above 155 kmph in diesel engines.
Ride and Handling
Riding Ritz is not as fun as a Swift, if you would have expected it. The tall stance does restrict and provide minor body rolls when throttled heavily at corners. i20 feels stable, but still needs improvement in the riding quality. When compared to Punto, every other car is lagging behind in solidity. Punto, is not as quickest as Ritz, but it the most stable car of the lot, thanks to the aerodynamic nose and the wider wheelbase. On all roads, bends and corners Punto and Polo outscores the Suzuki and the Hyundai cars, while i20 comes somewhat closer in handling to Punto. Punto’s accurate steering feedback is another big leap towards its credibility. If at all there is one other smart hatchback other than Swift, it must be Polo, thanks to the superb ergonomics and the overall ride quality. But at high speeds Punto is better than Polo with the firm steering grips on road. Equally good suspensions in the Punto, Polo provides maximum pleasure to the in house people during lower speeds and i20 is close to the European cars, while suspension in Ritz is pretty firm. Coming to the boot space, Polo and Punto have larger ones, while i20 and Ritz are little bit conservative. In fact, Ritz doesn’t even come in par with the boot available in Swift and also, the boomerang boot lid isn’t a nice add on. The centre of gravity plays a major role in providing comfortable riding and here too, Polo is far better than the taller Ritz and Punto and i20 are almost equally comfort providing cars. Also cross winds doesn’t seem to affect any of these cars except for Ritz, where there is a slight instability which could not have been avoided as the height of Ritz is the culprit. As per the rule of engines, all the petrol engines are equally peppy, while among the diesel, i20 is quicker than the other cars, but Ritz having the proven Swift like engine is running better than the Polo’s 3 cylinder. But Punto’s diesel engine is the best of the lot with a quicker peak torque coming in 1750 rpm and in highways too, it gives a promising response to acceleration. With respect to braking figures, Polo is better than Punto, which is better than Ritz and i20. And night riding is best in Polo and Punto, while i20 stands before Ritz. This is based on the illumination provided both exterior and interior wise. Also, all cars come with the headlamp angle adjustment based on the number of passengers on board.
Hyundai i20 has its premium price, for which it gives you above average usable space, lots of added features and that extra bit of European styling, which makes many people envy you on purchasing this car. Ritz must suits the practical city commuting person. The taller stance provides commanding road vision and the narrower body means you can park the car in a tighter space, best suited for city driving. Maruti has got the highest customer satisfaction and its assured to have the best after sales and service of Ritz. Go ahead, to have a different Swift in your garage. Its the Grande Punto that takes the lead against these cars with respect to the great blend between ride and handling. While the performance is not enthusiastic, the suspension and the solid built quality, which many of us would love to experience is what we get out of this promising Fiat hatchback. And now the winner is Polo, thanks to the smart looks and the attractive price tag as well. One would love to buy a Volkswagen for a nominal price just to know how the European tastes suits us and also, to trust on the success that Volkswagen Polo in various soils across the globe. The only doubt might be the after sales service which hopefully Volkswagen would give a good satisfaction to its customers.