Face Off: 2015 Honda Jazz vs 2014 Volkswagen Polo

VW has made quite a big impact in its relatively short time here in India. The Polo has received high praise for its build quality and impressive engines. However, what happens when you pit German precision against Japanese engineering? Well we are about to find out. In this face off, the 2015 Honda Jazz goes toe to toe with Volkswagen’s Polo.

Design:

2015 Honda Jazz:

The Honda Jazz is a rather impressive looking car. Sporting typical Honda styling with angular headlights, sharp cuts and creases across the body, the Jazz makes for an interesting hatch. Honda has gracefully melded a hatchback with MPV characteristics such as a high roofline and long wheel base. As a result, the Honda Jazz offers more space than most of its rivals.

2015 honda jazz front
Front View of the all new Honda Jazz hatchback

VW Polo:

Unlike the Honda Jazz, the VW Polo is all about order. The German hatch makes minimal use of angular design elements to provide a clean silhouette. VW is renowned for its precision engineering however, design is more of an art than a procedure. The Polo feels far too clinical and lacks art in its form.

2015 Volkswagen Polo front three quarter
The VW Polo adopts a more minimal, understated design language.

Winner: Honda Jazz

Interior:

2015 Honda Jazz:

Honda has replicated the City’s cabin for the Jazz. The Japanese hatch features the same interior elements such as the dashboard layout and steering wheel as its sedan brother. This results in the most feature loaded cabin in the hatchback segment. The new Jazz sports a touchscreen infotainment system, touch sensitive A/C settings and steering mounted controls for Bluetooth telephony and music playback. Buyers have an option of choosing between an all black or beige and black interior.

2015 Honda Jazz cabin
Dashboard of the all new Honda Jazz

VW Polo:

The clinical precision of VW continues inside the cabin as well. However, with its latest iteration, VW has provided the Polo’s interior with sporty undertones. The flat-bottomed steering wheel, silver accents around the center console and the glossly black finish found on the gear knob and steering wheel all add a bit of character to the otherwise dull interiors of the German hatch. Volkswagen is yet to provide a significant update to the music system first introduced on the Polo.

2015 volkswagen polo dashboard
Dashboard of the new VW Polo

Winner: Honda Jazz

Under the Hood:

2015 Honda Jazz:

The Jazz has been introduced with an extremely powerful pair of engines. The petrol powered Jazz houses a familiar 1.2 l i-VTEC engine under the bonnet. The four cylinder petrol mill churns out 87 hp @ 6000 RPM and a peak torque of 110 Nm @ 4800 RPM. Honda offers the petrol variant of the Jazz with both a five speed manual as well as a CVT gearbox.

Diesel enthusiasts will welcome the inclusion of Honda’s all new 1.5 l i-DTEC EarthDreams motor. The engine remains identical to the one used on the City sedan and as a result the diesel Jazz produces an impressive 98 hp @ 3600 RPM with peak torque of 200 Nm coming in at 1750 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six speed manual gearbox.

VW Polo:

Although Volkswagen offers the Polo in high performance petrol and diesel avatars, these variants of the Polo fall into an entirely different price bracket. For the purposes of fair comparison, we are not considering the GT editions of the Polo. The petrol variant of the Volkswagen hatch is powered by a 1.2 l four cylinder unit that churns out 74 hp @ 5400 RPM and max torque of 110 Nm @ 3750 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a five speed manual gearbox.

VW’s diesel Polo is available with a detuned version of the 1.5 l four cylinder mill found on the Polo GT TDI. The oil burner produces 89 hp @4200 RPM and a peak torque of 230 Nm at 1500 RPM and is mated to a five speed manual transmission as well.

Winner: Draw

Verdict:

The Honda Jazz is a force to be reckoned with. Offering more power and features than any of its rivals for the same price, Honda will rapidly demolish the competition. Although VW produced a quality car, the manufacturer skimped on tech and power; two aspects that Volkswagen could have easily provided without bumping up the price tag. The Polo may sell in good numbers however, if VW ever hopes to hit the top spot here in India, it must not underestimate what the buyer is ready to settle for.

Face Off: Tata Bolt vs VW Polo

2015 volkswagen polo dashboard

Tata Motors is one of the few surviving Indian car makers. Although the car maker enjoyed great success back in the 20th century and early 2000’s, the indigenous car maker has failed to keep pace with its competition. The emergence of foreign car makers such as VW, Hyundai and Nissan dealt a great blow to native automakers. However, after a long period of absence, Tata is back to regain market control with its all new Bolt hatchback. We pit it against Volkswagen’s popular Polo to see how the latest Tata hatch fares.

Design:

Tata Bolt:

The all new Bolt is a refreshing change from the dated design of the Indica. Though the Indica proved to be a value for money product, its popularity in the commercial vehicle segment resulted in the hatchback developing Although the Indica Vista introduced a slew of changes and improvements,  the Vista’s uncanny resemblance to the original Indica drove many to opt for other vehicles such as the Maruti Swift and VW Polo. For the 2015 Bolt however, the Indian car maker has introduced an all new design philosophy that attempts to provide the premium feel the Indian consumer is looking for without the high price tag commonly associated with such products.

2015 tata bolt front three quarter
The Tata Bolt has come a long way from the Indica and its modern styling will surely play a great role in the hatch’s critical reception

The Bolt is a major step up from the Indica Vista in terms of design. The blackened C pillars, aggressively styled headlights and silver foglamp accents all contribute to the car’s appeal. Despite all the changes Tata has managed to squeeze in, the Bolt still feels a bit dated in design when compared to the more contemporary VW Polo.

Volkswagen Polo:

The 2015 VW Polo sports minimal exterior changes. Key changes include a reworked front and rear bumper, revised headlight cluster design, new alloys and a strip of chrome across the lower bumper. The neat, restrained design of the Polo is executed perfectly and the understated presence and business like demeanor of the German hatch is far more modern when compared to the Bolt.

2015 Volkswagen Polo front three quarter
The Polo’s restrained design makes the German hatch one of the slickest in its segment

Winner: VW Polo

Interior:

Tata Bolt:

The sporty all black cabin of the Tata Bolt may seem claustrophobic to some. However, the Bolt features one of the best interiors from the Indian manufacturer in a long time. A sporty three spoke steering wheel complete with steering mounted controls greets the driver. The instrument cluster makes its way back to its conventional position behind the silver accented steering wheel.

2015 tata bolt dashboard
The Bolt features an impressively specced infotainment system

The Indian automaker has also fitted the 2015 Bolt with a best in class infotainment system. The specially designed Harman sound system features a high res touchscreen with established features such as Bluetooth telephony, USB, AUX in and iPod connectivity. However, unlike any other system in its class, the Harman entertainment system also offers navigation, voice recognition, SMS readout and even video playback.

Volkswagen Polo: 

Interiors of the previous gen Polo was a very humdrum affair. Though the hatchback’s build quality vastly surpassed its Indian rivals, the Polo suffered from an issue most VW models bear. The clinical precision of a German made car comes at the price of creativity and outright style; A trait most of the Indian buyer community look for in a premium hatch.

 

2015 volkswagen polo dashboard
The facelifted VW Polo is graced with a flatbottomed steering wheel and the center console now sports a silver finish

The German automaker has made tremendous strides in the latest iteration of the Polo. The glossy black flat bottomed steering wheel and the addition of a dead pedal will surely help VW score some brownie points in the enthusiast community. Unlike the Bolt, the German car maker has opted for a dual tone beige and black interior giving the cabin an airy feel. Despite the Polo offering an ergonomically well balanced cabin, the low functionality of the car’s infotainment system is a major downside against the fully loaded Bolt.

Winner: Tata Bolt

Under the Hood:

Tata Bolt:

Tata offers the Bolt in both petrol and diesel avatars. The petrol variant is powered by Tata’s all new 1.2 l Revotron engine that produces 89 hp @ 5000 RPM and peak torque of 140 Nm @ 1500 RPM. Power from the turbo petrol is sent to the front wheels via a five speed manual gearbox. For the first time ever in its segment, the Tata Bolt offers three different driving modes. Based on the user’s choice of Sport, Eco or City, the engine’s mapping is reworked to provide power, maximum fuel economy or a computer estimated combination of both.

tata revotron engine
Tata’s 1.2 l Revotron engine offers three different driving modes

The 1.2 l diesel unit produces 74 hp @ 4000 RPM and 190 Nm of torque @ 1750 RPM. The QuadraJet engine is mated to a five speed manual transmission. Unlike the cutting edge Revotron engine, the diesel variant is rather conventional in nature, offering no new tech under the hood.

Volkswagen Polo:

VW is the only automaker to offer a truly high performance variant in the hatchback segment. Although Fiat made an attempt very early on with the 90 hp Punto, VW offers the Polo with 100+ hp in both petrol and diesel variants. Powering the more pedestrian petrol variants is a 1.2 l four cylinder unit that churns out 74 hp @ 5400 RPM and max torque of 110 Nm @ 3750 RPM.

VW packs a detuned variant of the 1.5 l diesel mill found on the GT TDI. Producing 89 hp @4200 RPM and a peak torque of 230 Nm at 1500 RPM, the diesel Polo is far more powerful than the diesel variant of the Tata Bolt. Both engines are mated to a five speed manual.

Winner: Tata Bolt

Verdict:

The VW Polo offers a little more than just style and features. Its solid build quality and dual airbag standard is an indication of the German car maker’s commitment to producing safe, quality cars. However, for the extra premium that the German hatch demands, VW offers little in terms of creature comforts.

2015 Volkswagen Polo rear three quarter
The Volkswagen Polo offers solid build quality and high safety standards

Tata has come a long way from the Indica. The Bolt is a near perfect blend of style, features and engineering ingenuity. Setting a benchmark for the hatchback class here in India, the Bolt is easily one of the best from the Indian car maker in a long time. It’s cost to features ratio will play a major role in sales figures and may just bring Tata back from the brink.

 

Faceoff: Volkswagen Polo vs Hyundai Elite i20

2013 volkswagen polo

The Volkswagen Polo is a model that has cut its teeth in a cut-throat segment for years now. The car has proved its mettle and lived up to the reputation of the stable it comes from. With the latest facelift, the Polo has proved that even small tweaks can make a car a whole lot more of  luring prospect.

But what happens when the segment is overtaken by a callow competitor making its entry for the first time? The Hyundai Elite i20 may be new but it has managed to validate itself in a very short time by garnering a whopping 15,000 bookings in a month following its launch. So how do these two rivals fare when put head-to-head? Let’s find out.

2014 red Hyundai Elite i20
The 2014 Hyundai Elite i20 Seen Here in Red

EXTERIOR

The Hyundai Elite i20’s new “Fluidic 2.0” design looks very smart. The wide swept back headlamps, alloy wheels, and chrome finish door handles lend the car a bold and elegant appearance. One also gets to see electrically adjustable outside rear view mirrors which come with integrated turn indicators in front. The beautifully designed tail lamp combination gives the Hyundai Elite an aggressive look from the side profile.

Although the Volkswagen Polo does not come with much transformation in its latest form, it still holds a strong command over its visual appeal, which makes it a very strong contender in its segment. Few distinctive changes which can be seen are- artistic dual beam headlights covered with a posh black layer, 16inch alloy wheels, a beautifully designed front grille and tail lights. The rear hasn’t been tampered with much and it’s quite a task to tell the new Polo apart from its predecessors on this aspect.

But at the end of the day, the Elite i20 is a model that comes of looking better thanks to a fresh design which dares to defy what’s worked for it in the past.

Hyundai Elite i20: 4.5

Volkswagen Polo: 3.5

Interiors of the Hyundai Elite i20
Interiors of the Hyundai Elite i20

INTERIORS

The Volkswagen Polo’s interior changes are next to nil. The minor modifications that have been made include the additional SD card reader, silver trimmed dashboard, and the newly designed steering wheel, which contributes to the ambiance of the cabin. The major drawback of the Polo is the lack of space in the rear seat due to scooped off front seats as it comes with a 13 mm longer wheel base. There is also insufficient room for knee and shoulder at the rear .

The new Hyundai Elite i20 simply seems to be unbeatable in this segment in terms of the features and equipment it packs in. A chilled glove box, two 12V power outlets, telescope adjusted steering, 1GB inbuilt memory and a rear view parking camera are just some of the many entries on the model’s list of features. It also screams ahead in terms of rear seat comfort, as it is more spacious and provides more comfort than the Polo.

Once again, it is the youthful Elite i20 that edges past. Its interiors are welcoming and comfortable. For those who like to have a lot of bells and whistles to play with as part of the drive experience, the Elite i20 offers features up in spades.

Hyundai Elite i20: 4.5

Volkswagen Polo: 4

2014 Volkswagen polo

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE

The major change to be seen in the new Volkswagen Polo is their upgraded engine. It now comes with a 1.5 litre diesel powerplant that puts out 90PS of power and 230Nm of torque. It comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox.  It attains a three digit speed with an ease and tends to be very smooth. The tactile feedback is intuitive and reactions measured and brisk. It also turns out to be an absolute comfort to push to higher speeds on open roads.

On the other hand, the Hyundai Elite i20 comes with a 1.4 liter CRDi engine as the previous versions. It also puts out 90PS of power but offers a torque of 220Nm, slightly less compared to the Polo. But this one comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox, which makes it a slight challenge for the driver to maintain rectilinear motion when pushing the car.

While the Elite i20 may have a slight edge in the cosmetic departments, it is the Polo that impresses with its reliable performance and ability to ride the torque curve. Add to this its well sprung suspension and comfortable cockpit, and the Polo trumps the Elite i20 in this department.

Hyundai Elite i20: 4

Volkswagen Polo: 4.5

 Volkswagen polo signal light left

FUEL EFFICIENCY AND PRICE

When it comes to one of the most essential parameters of comparison, that is the mileage, the Elite i20 is slightly ahead. The new Volkswagen Polo offers a mileage of 20.1 kmpl.  The new Elite i20 is slightly more economical in its use of fuel, yielding a mileage of 21.9 kilometers per liter.

The new Hyundai Elite i20 diesel variant starts at 7.66 lakhs, while Volkswagen Polo diesel variant is around Rs.30,000 rupees cheaper.

Hyundai Elite i20: 4.5

Volkswagen Polo: 4.5

VERDICT

This face-off has proved to be an interesting one given that these cars each have their individual strengths and weaknesses in different departments. With the Polo, Volkswagen has managed to stick to their trend ie. manufacturing powerful engines. The Hyundai Elite i20 has a done a phenomenal job in its styling, space and equipment. If you want to enjoy your drive, Volkswagen’s Polo best suits you. But if you tend to hunt for a value package which best suits you and your family standards, then the Hyundai Elite i20 is the way to go.

VOLKSWAGEN POLO- OWNERSHIP REVIEW

In India one of the most popular types of cars are the Hatchback’s. A small sized car which can fit 5 people, fuel efficient and relatively economical to buy. Anywhere you look in an Indian city & you will for sure find a Hatchback. For years now Maruti Suzuki has ruled the Hatchback segment with a variety of cars for sale in this segment but in recent years they have come to face a lot of competition from other manufacturers. One of them is the mighty Volkswagen !

When Volkswagen introduced the Volkswagen Polo back in 2010 to the Indian market, the car came as a refreshing modern addition to the hatchback segment which seemed to be ageing a bit back then. The car was aggressively styled, spacious, had lots of modern technology fitted in, and was a lot sportier in terms of rid and handling than most of its competitors ( thanks to its stiff suspension ). But there was one part of the hatchback segment which seemed to be an unexplored territory in India.

The Hot Hatch

A hot Hatch is a sort of a hooligan version of the civilized hatchbacks many people use in their everyday lives. They look almost the same (few cosmetic changes are made at times to better performance) or exactly the same to the cars they are based on but aren’t the same under the hood. Around the world, the Hot Hatch range of horsepower is quite wide. They go from 120hp up to 250bhp. But in India this isn’t the case. Back in 2010 if someone wanted a hot hatch in India there wasn’t much choice to go for. There is the Punto sport ( 90HP) but many people (including this cars owner) looked away from fiat due to its poor after sales quality, interior quality, and service problems such as lack of spares.  One more reason for the lack of interest in this segment is that in India people do tend to lean toward to fuel efficiency and cutting down running costs rather than having a car that can make you smile wide as u depress your right foot. Volkswagen decided to give this category a shot with the Polo 1.6. Although VW has stopped production of this car in India (due to it not being able to become the hit they thought it would be, their current entry in this segment is the Polo TSI) it still remains a very appealing car to those petrol heads around town.

This specific Polo 1.6 belongs to a good friend of mine and he was very kind enough to allow me to drive it and do this review on it. He bought the car in April 2011 and has done about 14000kms on it and every time I see him drive it there never seems to be nothing but a smile on his face (there was one on my face too, when I drove it!) What makes this car appealing u might ask? Well let’s take a look at it in a bit more detail.

Exterior Design and looks:

The Volkswagen polo is a car which was designed keeping in mind the modern world. Most car manufacturers are designing their hatchback keeping the youth in mind (considering that nowadays hatchbacks are the cars which most people in their youths go for because of their pricing and value for money). The Volkswagen polo is one car which oozes modern design philosophy. Its aggressive styling and sharp lines are very striking and attractive to look and the same principle is followed all along the car.

Volkswagen polo ownwership review
The aggressive styling of the front make it very appealing to the modern generation.

The car’s front end is what is the most striking and distinctive to look at! The whole flow of aggressive and bold lines along the car starts from here. The uniquely styled headlights and bumper give the car a menacing look (at night there is no question on which car is behind you when you see those set of headlights). Although this car is styled in this manner, there is still a certain amount of fluidity in the whole overall shape of the car.

Due to the lack of a proper boot, the nice looking sharp lines come to a somewhat of an abrupt end. However Volkswagen has done its best to make the rear of this car as good as the front (tried & in my opinion the front looks very much better than the rear). The 15” alloy wheels look good too and suite the cars design very well.

Volkswagen polo ownership review
The bold lines flow right along the car.

When it comes the build quality of the car there is no doubt of the supremacy the German manufacturer holds in this area. The exterior feels very solid and very well put together. The quality of the body work Is very good and the finish as well. This is one area I feel Volkswagen has the edge over other cars in its segment although there are a few which run close with it – one being the Fiat Punto and the Honda Brio.

Interiors Design & Quality:

Take a look inside and the polo follows the same standards it does on the outside. The interior of the car feels very solid and the materials used are of quite a good quality. The Instrument cluster makes use of modern technology with a digital display which gives the driver information about fuel quantity and data from the trip computer such as fuel consumption average, real time consumption, range, and speed. The display itself is very clear and easy to read. There have been complaints that at night, especially on the highway the screen is a bit too bright and hampers visibility a bit but the owner of this car said he didn’t find the display disturbing at night and I too didn’t find it very disturbing while on the highway.So I guess we will leave this up to personal opinion.

Volkswagen polo interiors - ownership review
The solid and good looking interiors of the polo 1.6

The Center console is simple and functional in its design. It isn’t cluttered with buttons and the controls are simple and easy to use. The touch and feel of the controls too is solid as with whole of the car. However when it comes to comforts, the Polo 1.6 isn’t as well equipped as one would want. There is no climate control all thought the air conditioning is powerful and cools the car well. The music system doesn’t have AUX or Bluetooth capabilities but the speakers are powerful and clear lending to a more pleasurable drive.

The seats on the Polo 1.6 are comfortable and supportive to be in. The driver seat is height adjustable and the steering can be adjusted in rake and reach but the reach is limited to only 3-4 inches. The interior also comes in a nice dual tone beige and black color scheme. But all in all there is nothing to complain about with this interior, its solidly built and will last long into the cars life.

Engine & Driving Dynamics:

Now we come to the part which really sets this car apart from the others in its segment. The Engine!  The car is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6L four cylinder engine which churns out 103bhp @ 5250 RPM and 153NM of torque @3750 RPM. In India these number are usually reserved for the mid-size sedan segment (By looking at these numbers itself anyone would come to think that this car is no slouch). It doesn’t let your expectations down. Initially it does take a bit to get going, but as the RPM needle crosses 1500 – 2000 RPM it comes alive and you suddenly find your body a little further away from the steering wheel if you weren’t leaning back into your seat already. Lean in to the throttle further and the engine just pulls all the way through up to the red line. This sensation of being pressed in your seat is also accompanied by a deep roar from the engine bay. However while idling I found that there is a minute lag in throttle response.

This hunk of an engine is mated to a Five-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox itself is slick and slots into gear very easily making changing gears a peach. But it lacks that mechanical feel and on a side note to engage reverse you have to push the gear leaver down and then push it into the direction of first gear. The gear ratios are more suited to city driving. On the highway due to the lack of low end torque you do need to downshift a gear to overtake but else this can take you up to some serious speeds which could get you into some serious trouble!

One place the Volkswagen polo seems to be different from the rest is its suspension tune. Whether you like It or not is up to personal opinion. Some people like having stiff suspension as it contributes to better handling characteristics and less body role during cornering and then there are the people who like to have a softer state of tune so that all the bumps and potholes are soaked up. Well, from day one the Volkswagen polo has been criticized a bit for having too harsh and stiff a ride, but I don’t mind it. For me it’s not that harsh it does a decent job of dealing with our constantly dug up and pothole ridden road (there are cars which deal with the roads much better e.g. Hyundai i20, but then again it can’t match up to the way this car takes the bends). The car feels planted at highway speeds and give the diver more confidence in driving the car. The steering is light which is perfect in the city but for highway driving a bit more weight would have been a lot better. The steering is a bit dull in feedback which is nice if u don’t want the steering constantly moving around to every bump and pothole forcing the tires to move, but if u prefer a steering with feedback then you might not fancy this one ( This is due to it being an electronic power steering rather than hydraulic).

All in all this is a nice car to drive. With its powerful engine and its good handling and road holding you find yourself wanting to spend more and more time with it and drive it on a nice highway till its tanks are empty (suggest you don’t though).

 Service & After Sales:

When it comes to VW’s service the owner said that delivery and availability of parts weren’t an issue with Volkswagen polo. However he did mention that if he had any specific technical complaint the ability of the VW’s mechanics to troubleshoot and isolate the problem wasn’t good enough. He once found himself complaining about the same problem twice. Each time the representatives said they found the issue and fixed it but the problem lingered. Only on the third attempt was the problem actually resolved.

Where The Volkswagen polo 1.6 isn’t up to mark:

–         The initial throttle response is a bit slow.

–         There isn’t as much low-end torque as expected for a petrol engine, so for overtaking (especially in a fully loaded car) on highways you do have to down shift a gear to get the engine to its peak torque output.

–         For people who like riding in comfort this is not a car for you in terms of ride quality. You do feel the bumps and potholes in the car due to its stiff suspension.

–         The car isn’t packed with as many features as it competitors like the Hyundai i20, Fiat Punto, and the Honda Brio.

Bottom Line:

This car was definitely a hot hatch for the Indian market (I say it because VW has stopped production of this car in India). It was most definitely an appealing car to look at and drive and would get your adrenaline pumping when you want it too. But if any company including Volkswagen wants to bring out a true hot hatch and contend seriously, then I think they should take things a step further (Maybe more powerful engines and better handling).