The Indian streets are always packed with hatchbacks. Ask anyone about their first car and there are very high chances that the answer will be a hatchback. At present, the top three most selling premium hatchbacks in India, include- Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Hyundai Elite i20, and Tata Altroz. The year 2020, was full of new car launches, and one of the most anticipated one was the launch of the all-new Hyundai i20. Yes, you read that right. Hyundai has removed “Elite” from the i20. But does the lack of the word- “Elite”, signify a down-grade, or an upgrade over the previous model? Let’s find-
After a long wait, Hyundai has finally launched the all-new i20 starting at Rs 6.80 lakh for the base variant with a 1.2-litre petrol engine, and goes up to Rs 11.80 lakh for the top-spec variant. What’s important to note is, that these are all introductory prices, and we do expect a price hike soon. On the other hand, the price of Maruti Suzuki Baleno starts at a humble Rs 5.64 lakh, and goes up to Rs 8.96 lakh for the top-spec model. While the Tata Altroz comes with a price starting at Rs 5.44 lakh, and going all the way up to Rs 9.09 lakh. Lastly, the Volkswagen Polo is priced starting at Rs 5.87 lakh and goes up to Rs 9.67 lakh for the top-spec variant. After having a quick glance through the above price list, its clear that the new Hyundai i20 is quite a premium hatchback. While this might make other cars look more affordable, lets see how much of a car do we get for the price.
The reason people go for premium hatchbacks over the budget ones, is the ability to enjoy a decently spacious and feature rich cabin atmosphere. The exterior of a car is always subjective, and is not a deal-breaker for a lot of customers. However, the cabin of a car is where we spend most of our time, and it must be spacious, interstingly engineered, and user-friendly.
If you need a decent leg-room at the rear seat, both Hyundai i20 and the Maruti Suzuki Baleno come with a 3995mm length. While Tata Altroz also comes with a decent 3990mm length, but the Volkwagen Polo comes with a much lesser, 3971mm length. On the other hand, if you want at least three people to comfortably sit at the rear seat, Hyundai i20 and Tata Altroz, would be a good option, with a width of 1755mm. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno, also gets a fair-enough 1745mm width. While the Volkswagen Polo gets the lowest, 1682mm width, which if you think optimistically, might be helpful in parking at tight spots. And if you are a tall person, Tata Altroz will be comfortable, with its 1523mm tall stance. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno on the other hand, is 1510mm tall, while the Hyundai i20 is slightly smaller, at 1505mm. And lastly, the Volkswagen Polo is the smallest, with a height of 1469mm.
Speaking about weekend trips, all four hatchbacks come with a pair of 16-inch alloy wheels. However, if you carry a lot of luggage with you, the Tata Altroz, with its 340-litre boot space, is a great choice. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno also comes with a 339-litre booth space, we wonder what consumes the additional 1-litre space. The Hyundai i20, on the other hand, gets slightly lower, 311-litre boot space, followed by the smallest, 294-litre boot space of Volkswagen Polo. So if riding comfort is your preference, the Tata Altroz, or Hyundai i20 could be a fair choice. While VW Polo, won’t be the best option as a family hatchback.
Power And Performance Battle:
Well, we know that Volkswagen Polo isn’t the best choice to look for, in terms of riding comfort, and its not here for that either. Ask any enthusiast, about their first car, and their are very high chances, that the answer will be a Polo. Coming back to our comparison, let’s start with one of the country’s highest selling premium hatchback, the Maruti Suzuki Baleno. Unfortunately, after the transition to BS6, the Baleno has only been left with a 1.2-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine, that generates 83bhp of power and 113Nm peak torque. The engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard, while there is an option to opt for a CVT. Although the Maruti Suzuki Baleno, isn’t an exciting car, people don’t buy it for the riding pleasure. The hatchback comes with a Maruti badge, which itself speaks a lot, and need no justification. Apart from this, there is also a Maruti engine under the hood, which is a mileage maker, along with the carmakers additional mild-hybrid tech, which helps increase the mileage and power output to 90bhp.
Let’s see what Tata Altroz has to offer. But before we start, if you are looking for an automatic transmission, the Altroz should not be in you list, as the hatchback is only mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Apart from this, everything is okayish. The Altroz is available in both, petrol and diesel powertrains. The petrol models are powered by a 1.2-litre Revotron engine which makes 85bhp of power and 113Nm of peak torque. On the other hand, the diesel models of the Tata Altroz are powered by a 1.5-litre diesel engine, which produces 89bhp of power and 200Nm of peak torque. While the Altroz is also scheduled to receive a turbocharged variant, there are no official announcements about it, for now.
While Tata Altroz and Maruti Suzuki Baleno are not known for driving pleasures, two cars surely are worth getting a spot on your list of the perfect get-away cars, and they are- the Hyundai i20, and the Volkswagen Polo. Yes, we do miss the Hyundai i20 N-line variant, which might have been a perfect rival here. However, we must not forget, that the Hyundai i20 also comes with a 1.0-litre, three cylinder turbo-petrol engine, which can be paired with 6-speed iMT (clutch-less manual) or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. This engine can produce 120bhp of maximum power and 172Nm of peak torque. On the other hand, the Volkswagen Polo, which was know to be the most powerful hatchback in India, comes with a turbocharged, in-line, three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine, that produces 108bhp of power at 5,000 – 5,500 rpm and a peak torque of 175Nm at 1,750 – 4,000 rpm. This engine can be mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox.
So does that mean, the all-new Hyundai i20 is better and more performance oriented than the Volkswagen Polo TSI? Well, we’ll surely test that one Indian roads, if you comment below. Speaking about the non-turbo engine, the Hyundai i20 gets an 1.2-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine that produces 83bhp of power and 115Nm of peak torque. This engine is mated to a 5-speed MT or an optional IVT transmission. The i20 also gets an 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, which has been borrowed from the Venue, and produces 100bhp of power and 240Nm torque. However, this engine is mated only to a 6-speed manual transmission.
The last, and the most important aspect of a car is, features. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is equipped with features like- LED projector headlamps, 16-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto climate control, push-button stop/start, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and passive keyless entry.
The Tata Altroz on the other hand, is equipped with features like- 7-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a semi-digital instrument panel with seven-inch TFT color MID (multi-information display), and media and navigation mirroring system, push-button start/stop, automatic air conditioning, electric tailgate release, rain-sensing wipers, Harman sound system, and wearable key for passive entry. To establish an even stronger position in the market, Tata has just launched an XM+ variant for the Altroz. This variant will offer most of these cool features, at a very affordable price, compared to other top-spec models.
Speaking about the Volkswagen Polo, the car gets a host of features like- cornering lights, flat-bottom steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, steering mounted controls cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic AC, height-adjustable driver’s seat, a semi-digital instrument panel with MID (multi-information display), ambient lighting, rear AC vents, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual front airbags, ABS, EBD, reverse parking sensors, reverse parking camera, speed alert system, electronic stability control (AT only), and hill hold control (AT only).
And lastly, the all-new Hyundai i20, which packed to the brim, with features like- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a digital TFT instrument cluster, an electric sunroof, wireless charging, a 7-speaker sound system from Bose, Hyundai’s signature BlueLink connected car tech, LED projector headlamps, and LED tail lamps, puddle lamps, and ambient lighting.
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno is still an attractive and affordable package, with the mileage making Maruti badge. On the other hand, Tata Altroz is fairly packed with some interesting features, the car also gets five-star safety rating, and a very nice and stable ride and handling with its comfortable cabin. The Volkswagen Polo is still one of the best driver’s car in the market, which is built like a tank, and races like a rocket. However, the all-new Hyundai i20 serves the purpose, Hyundai made it for. The new Hyundai i20 is a perfect all-rounder with the segment’s most powerful diesel engine, and a host segment leading features. But all this comes with an additional price.