Text – Parth Gohil; Pictures – Mangesh Jadhav

Honda Jazz CVT vs Volkswagen Polo GT TSI vs Ford Figo DCT Shootout
A tale of three automatic hatchbacks, who is the hero?

Shootout: Honda Jazz CVT vs Volkswagen Polo GT TSI vs Ford Figo DCT

Shootout No. 138

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 9.43 lakhs (Honda Jazz CVT), Rs. 9.91 lakhs (Volkswagen Polo GT TSI), Rs. 8.30 lakhs (Ford Figo DCT)

The Ford Figo is a well-rounded product at an attractive price point but the Polo GT is faster

I stay in one end of Mumbai and my work place is at the other end of the city. Mumbai is a very crowded city and is also known for its notoriously heavy traffic. Travelling more than 100 kms on a daily basis started becoming annoying what with my left leg cursing me every time I hit the roads. It was then I realised the importance of an automatic car. Keeping the fun factor of a slick-shifting manual transmission aside, I pondered and concluded that an automatic hatchback was the need of the day! Not only me, I guess almost everyone who drives long distances in this city must be having similar thoughts since the past few years. No wonder sales of automatic cars have been sky-rocketing ever since. Now, the market is filled with a lot of options for automatic cars ranging across various price segments. Here we have the Ford Figo, Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo with us and these fall in an affordable segment but since all of them seem to be good offerings, we really thought we should settle this once and for all by conducting a detailed test.

Motor Quest: Sales of automatic vehicles have increased by a very huge margin in India and buyers don’t mind spending more on the vehicle as well as fuel just to relieve themselves from the stress of driving a manual car in clogged traffic. All three vehicles here offer something different and yet are so similar.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23605998925/[/flickr]

Every car here has a completely different styling philosophy

Styling – Honda has always been known for its arrow-shot designs and the older Jazz was no different. The new Jazz has really evolved a lot when we take styling into account and even though it looks very good, there are certain angles from which the vehicle looks a bit bulky. Also, how can we not mention the rather small tyres which look very puny compared to the dimensions of the hatchback. On the other hand, we have the new Ford Figo which has also improved a lot compared to its previous model. The older Figo had an old-school design but the new one that we have here looks quite sporty and has a distinct appeal to it.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23238099089/[/flickr]

The Jazz looks funky while the other two look classy

The Volkswagen Polo is something completely different though. The vehicle has been around in India for almost 6 years and its styling hasn’t really changed much. The vehicle carries very stylish looks with a sporty touch and there is also a sense of premium-ness in the Polo, something which is also present in the Jazz on a relatively lower extent while it is the Figo that doesn’t exude a premium feeling at all. Unlike the Jazz, both the Polo and Figo look extremely well-proportioned though.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23523579231/[/flickr]

Cost-cutting is evident on various places inside the Jazz

Interiors – On the insides, it is the Volkswagen Polo that trumps over both of them when we talk about quality and feel. The Polo’s interiors are very neatly laid out and brilliant quality materials have been used which is very evident when you sit in all the cars back to back. The centre console is neat and all the buttons are stacked without much fuss. The Jazz on the other hand has its dashboard borrowed from the City and it looks very good but cost-cutting is evident especially when you see those hard touch plastics and some of them feel very cheap compared to those of the Polo. The Figo’s insides also feel built to last but again the quality is quite below the Polo.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23605983015/[/flickr]

The Volkswagen Polo has the best quality materials and build

The Jazz has the most space while the Polo has the best build, the Figo is somewhere in-between both

The Figo has the best seats I feel while the Jazz also has large seats. The Polo on the other hand has snug seats which are a tad smaller than those of the Honda. The Polo’s seats are stiffer and yet comfortable enough. The Figo’s cushioning stands somewhere between the two. On the space front, the Jazz is clearly leading over its rivals and Honda designers have extracted the highest possible space from the cabin. The Polo is definitely cramped at the rear and this is a significant deal-breaker for a lot of people. The Figo is also acceptable when it comes to space. The Jazz, Polo and Figo have a boot capacity of 354, 295 and 257 litres respectively.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23238076649/[/flickr]

The Figo is also well-built but lacks the premium feel

Talking about features, well I think all three of them are more or less similar in this regard. None of these cars get a start-stop button but what is absolutely shocking is the fact that the Honda Jazz doesn’t come with auto-locking doors. The Figo in turn misses out on rear parking sensors while the Polo gets them and the Jazz has a rear camera display (no sensors). The SYNC system on the Figo works well. The Figo, Jazz and Polo get a normal audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and steering-mounted controls. The Jazz gets a touchscreen AVN system on the top variant only which isn’t offered on the automatic. All three of them get automatic climate control while none of them get rear vents. AC performance in all of them is pretty good with the Jazz getting touch controls.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23238078619/[/flickr]

The Figo is offered in a lower trim at gets the least features here

Practicality is one of the things that really matters and all three of them fare similarly. The number of cubbyholes in each car is more or less the same while the Jazz gets extra brownie points for its Magic Seats but the CVT model doesn’t get it. Ingress-egress is easiest on the Jazz thanks to its wide leg area and the relatively taller height while getting in and out of the low-slung Polo could be an issue for elders. The Jazz gets the biggest ORVMs but the Polo’s mirrors too have a good range of display, the Figo has small mirrors.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23579965356/[/flickr]

The Polo and Figo are clearly better than the Jazz in acceleration

Performance – All three hatchbacks here come with different types of engines and gearboxes. The Jazz gets a 1.2-litre petrol engine with a 7-step CVT gearbox while the Polo gets a 1.2-litre turbocharged powerplant with a 7-speed DSG gearbox and finally the Figo gets a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine with a 6-speed PowerShift DCT gearbox. Drive all these cars back to back and you conclude that it is the Polo which has the best engine and gearbox combination, something that puts even bigger sedans to shame. The Honda produces 90 PS of power and 110 Nm of torque compared to the Figo’s 112 PS of power and 132 Nm of torque while the Polo belts out 105 PS of power and 175 Nm of twist.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/22977858194/[/flickr]

The Jazz and Figo get a naturally aspirated engine unlike the Polo

The Jazz on the other hand has a free-revving engine which lacks bottom-end punch but the motor churns out very good performance from the mid-range. The Figo on the other hand is extremely peppy right from lower RPMs and in comparison to this, the Polo excels because it has good punch almost throughout the rev range. The Jazz has splendid power delivery near the redline and the Figo enjoys being in the low to mid-range. The Volkswagen has good punch at the top but it could have been a notch better as the motor redlines at under 6000 RPM. The Figo does 0-100 km/hr in 10.88 seconds while the Polo GT takes 10.09 seconds. The Jazz CVT completes the same run in a rather lethargic 14.37 seconds, all due to the rubber band effect of the CVT unit.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23523627671/[/flickr]

The DCT and DSG gearboxes perform better than the CVT

The Polo has the best engine + gearbox combo but Ford has almost nailed it too

The DSG gearbox is the quickest out of the three and also the smoothest. Drive the Polo sedately and the transmission will change cogs at 1500 RPM just like the Figo while in Sports mode, it will go right till the redline. The Figo’s gearbox has a similar behaviour but it lacks the finesse of the DSG and its smooth-shifting nature. The CVT box offered by Honda is nowhere in comparison here because it offers extremely unsatisfactory performance. The rubber-band effect is very evident and the RPMs keep climbing without having much effect on the speed. The Honda also feels strained at times while the Polo and Figo are brilliant performers.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23523620131/[/flickr]

In the sprint to the ton, Jazz is the slowest while Polo the quickest

All the cars get a Sports mode while the Jazz is the only one to boast of paddle shifters which prove to be far more fun than the D mode. Talking about NVH levels, the Polo is the only one here which performs brilliantly. The vibrations and engine noise is very nicely contained in this hatchback unlike the Jazz which is a bit too noisy and it gets even more annoying when the noise keeps increasing without the vehicle going too fast. The Figo also has a very noisy engine and even a mild rev is enough to attract glances from passers-by. Fuel efficiency is more or less similar on all three and it all boils down to how you are driving. Expect 9-11 km/l under normal city driving conditions and 14-15 km/l on the highway.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23310319960/[/flickr]

Fortunately, all three of them are very engaging to drive

Driving Dynamics – All these hatchbacks come with an electric power steering and all of them feel very light at low speeds while gaining some weight as the vehicle’s speed increases. The Jazz’s steering feels very good and the car is also a very good handler but thanks to its comparatively larger dimensions, it just doesn’t feel as chuckable as the other two. The Polo is quite fun to drive while the Figo also boasts of very good dynamics. The Polo feels the most chuckable over here with its taut dynamics. Braking is sharp on all three cars and there is nothing to complain here although the Jazz’ small tyres make it screech when you stand hard on the brake pedal.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23238128479/[/flickr]

The Figo has the best ride while the Polo follows closely

All three have sorted dynamics, Jazz does’t feel as chuckable as the others

The Jazz has excellent ride quality and it manages to filter out most bumps and undulations with ease while the Figo also does a splendid job here. The Polo has a softer suspension compared to the Jazz which is a bit on the stiffer side. Sharp bumps can be felt inside the cabin in the Polo and it is the Figo that wins praises here with its extremely sorted ride. The Jazz is heavily under-tyred though and Honda could have done with fatter rubber. The Polo’s tyres are the perfect size. The Figo gets 14-inch wheels with satisfactory levels of grip while the rubber on the Polo scores high on grip.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/22977820874/[/flickr]

Honda excels in the service department where Volkswagen is lacking

Safety and Service – The Polo automatic is offered in only one trim, i.e. GT TSI and it gets dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP. The Figo AT comes with dual front airbags, ABS, Traction Control, stability control and Hill Hold Assist while the Jazz CVT comes with dual front airbags and ABS. The Figo comes with a 2-year, 1 lakh kms warranty while the Jazz gets a 2-year, 40,000 kms warranty. Volkswagen on the other hand offers a 2-years, unlimited kms warranty. Talking about service levels, Honda is the best out of all these while Ford has also been showing signs of committing to improve their service quality levels and fares much better than Volkswagen. VW has pretty bad service reputation and there have been mixed reactions from people everywhere.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/22978941443/[/flickr]

The Figo being a complete all-rounder wins this automatic shootout

Verdict – Ford has hit the right chord with the Figo and it is the most well-rounded package here offered at a very good price too. The car gets good looks, a long equipment list, a quick gearbox and of course sorted dynamics. The vehicle is also priced very attractively and that makes it our pick out of the three. However, if space is not a concern and all you crave is driving fun then it is the Polo GT TSI that should grace your garage. The German is quite popular and it may lose out on space and service quality, but it is undoubtedly the most fun to drive here. The Jazz CVT is also a good car with great space and practicality but since the boring CVT gearbox is not even close to the slicker DCT and DSG gearboxes, the expensive Jazz loses out and comes in at third position in this shootout.

The Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is truly an awesome car and no doubt about the fact that it feels very engaging to drive. However, the Figo is more value because it offers more space and similar dynamics at a much lower price. The Jazz has everything going for it except the boring CVT gearbox and the underpowered engine which might just spoil the driving experience for some.

[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/23605991865/[/flickr]

Even in terms of pricing, the Figo offers the best bang for the buck

Testers’ Note:

“I am not a big fan of automatics, more so petrol because they end up giving a ridiculously low tank range. But if I had to choose a car among the three, it would be the hot and fiery Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. Both the Figo and Jazz are good automatic cars for those who want the convenience of an automatic for city driving and the practicality of a modern hatch which can accommodate people in comfort while offering space but Volkswagen has done the wise thing of offering the GT in top trim which Honda and Ford don’t do, making it an easy decision.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“I am a big sucker for automatic cars because the roads are too crowded nowadays and traffic doesn’t seem to ease out at all. But there has to be some fun behind the wheel and thus out of these cars, it is the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is what I would pick. Yes the German hatch isn’t practical as it lacks space but more than covers up for it with its terrific build, premium quality interiors and the slick shifting automatic box. It is the most expensive car here but it’s the best automatic hatchback in India.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
“I really liked the Figo as well as the Polo. Ford has always had an upper hand with their dynamics and the Figo is indeed a very impressive car. More so because it is priced much lower than the other two and yet it packs in good features. I loved the Jazz for its space and comfort but easily got bored of the CVT gearbox and the underpowered engine. It would’ve have been another thing if Honda would’ve plonked in the 1.5-litre unit from the City though. The Polo is very fun to drive and it manages to put a grin on your face every time you floor it. For someone like me, who is driving solo most of the times, the Polo GT TSI would be the perfect choice.” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading

Ford Figo Review
Honda Jazz Review
Volkswagen Polo GT TSI Review