The Honda Jazz despite being competitively priced (for lower trims), still commands a premium over the segment leader Hyundai Elite i20, while the Volkswagen Polo’s GT variants are clearly priced at a premium but offer the best-in-class performance.
The Honda Jazz is back in India in an all-new avatar and ever since its departure the last time, the market has changed dramatically. With the Hyundai Elite i20 ruling the premium hatchback space now, Honda has tried to come very close to the segment leader but does fall short on a thing or two. However, for the enthusiast, the Volkswagen Polo has always been a no-brainer irrespective of the pricing. That said, the Jazz is trying to offer a mix of performance as well as practicality in a compelling package, and while it may look appreciable on the spec sheet, does it make for a value for money offering? Let’s do a quick price comparison to see if the Jazz is worth the premium.
Space – The Honda Jazz offers the best-in-class headroom and legroom and gets a host of small storage spaces throughout the cabin to stow your belongings, while the 354-litre boot capacity certainly gobbles up everything easily. The Hyundai Elite i20 may not be as spacious as the Jazz but does offer ample legroom at the front and rear and the seats offer good support. The boot space though is significantly lower at 285-litres. The small dimensions on the Polo make for little space inside. The front seats are comfortable, but the rear do not offer appreciable legroom. The boot space too is restricted to 280-litres. All three cars get rear folding seats, while the Jazz also gets Magic seats that help open up more cargo space.
Features – While the Hyundai Elite i20 beats the competition hands down in equipment levels, it does miss out on the touchscreen infotainment system and navigation that is available on the Honda Jazz. The Volkswagen Polo feels sparsely equipped in comparison but gets all the essentials. Material quality is good on all three models, but the i20 feels richer in visual appeal and is the only car here to get rear AC vents, keyless go, push button start, electro-chromatic rearview mirror, 16-inch alloy wheels and automatic headlights. The flat-bottom steering on the Polo though is hard to resist. Climate control is available on all hatchbacks here; whereas the reverse camera is available only on the Jazz and i20. The Jazz misses out on rear parking sensors.
Engines – The petrol variants come with a 1.2-litre motor on all three cars with the Jazz’s i-VTEC making 90 PS and 110 Nm of torque, whereas the Elite i20’s motor makes 83 PS and 115 Nm. The Polo makes the lowest power here with a 3-cylinder MPI mill producing 75 PS and 110 Nm. That said, the Polo GT TSI comes with the best-in-class power making 105 PS and 175 Nm. All three cars come paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox and the automatic transmission is only available on the Jazz and Polo GT TSI, both of which use a 7-speed unit, the one on the Polo being leaps and bounds better.
Coming to diesel power, the Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo use a 1.5-litre four-cylinder oil burner that produces 100 PS (200 Nm) and 90 PS (230 Nm) respectively. The Polo GT TDI is also the segment leader here in terms of power producing 105 PS and 250 Nm of torque. The Hyundai Elite i20 uses a 1.4-litre diesel unit churning out 90 PS and 220 Nm of torque. Save for the Polo that uses a 5-speed unit, the other offerings come with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Safety – The Volkswagen Polo undoubtedly offers the best build quality and feels like a tank on all grounds. The Honda and Hyundai too offer appreciable build quality but the Elite i20 has the best quality but doesn’t feel as solidly build as the Polo. All three cars come with dual front airbags, ABS and EBD on multiple variants and run on alloy wheels. In terms of safety rating, the Jazz and Elite i20 have scored 5-stars and 4-stars respectively at the Euro NCAP, whereas the India spec Polo has scored 4-stars in the same crash test and is the only car here which comes with dual front airbags as standard on all variants.
Price – As seen in the table below, the Polo starts cheaper than both the Jazz and i20 with a starting price of Rs. 6.27 lakhs while the Elite i20’s base 1.2 Era trim starts at Rs. 6.29 lakhs. The Jazz is priced very close at Rs. 6.31 lakhs. Hyundai understands the value for money quotient well in India and prices for other variants continue to be competitive, while features are in abundance in almost all trims. Honda is charging a marginal premium over Hyundai, but the Jazz does miss out on small bits as a result of cost cutting. The Polo though sparsely equipped in comparison to the other models, is the most fun to drive here with the GT TSI and TDI versions targeted at enthusiasts alone. However, you do pay almost Rs. 70,000/- more for the Polo GT TSI over the Jazz petrol CVT (all prices, on-road Mumbai).
Verdict – The three offerings here are very versatile even though they belong in the same space. While the Elite i20 makes the most sensible buy with a plethora of tech on offer, it does not satiate the enthusiast. This is where the Polo steps in with its powerful engines and splendid driving dynamics. However, the car does miss out on a lot of features, which makes it feel overpriced. The Jazz manages to balance it out and the spacious cabin ensures the practicality quotient is high. But given the extremely competitive pricing that the Hyundai Elite i20 offers (or rather the unnecessary premium that Honda has charged on the Jazz), it continues to be our pick in the premium hatchback space.