Choosing between a car with 105 horses and a car with 145 horses seems easy but somehow it isn’t, we are of course talking about two very popular hot hatchbacks.
We, the Indian automotive enthusiasts are a difficult to understand bunch. Every day, we dream of driving fast cars on some of the best roads. Sadly though reality strikes in very early and we realise that owning fast cars in India isn’t particularly cheap given the exorbitant duties on import and finding good roads isn’t very easy too in many cities. But, road conditions have improved in major cities and high speed corridors have also been made albeit with undulations requiring cars with a compliant suspension.
Low slung sports cars, while offer a lot of thrills just aren’t practical for our roads because potholes and undulations upset them. Cost and road conditions are the two things which makes us think of cars which can offer the thrills at an affordable price and survive the Indian conditions too. This brings us to a nascent yet popular category of hot (or warm if you may please) hatches. In the past decade, we have had only a couple of hot hatches and the demand has been pretty low.
However, in 2013, Volkswagen decided to shake up the segment by introducing the Polo GT TSI here. The enthusiasts lapped it up as it had a 1.2-litre TSI engine producing 105 PS of power and this coupled with the 7-speed DSG gearbox made it a fast car. Please note, I mention it as a fast car, not an enthusiast’s delight. A car needs to be more than just being fast to tickle the senses and make the driver feel alive. It needs to have a soul which sadly the Polo GT TSI lacks.
Enter the Abarth Punto. Sometime ago, Fiat displayed the Abarth Punto at the Abarth 595 Competizione launch and this had enthusiasts drooling. On 19th October, the Italian automaker launched the Abarth Punto and the Avventura Abarth at a price of Rs. 9.95 lakhs (ex-showroom). Now this started a big debate. While some felt that the price is high, others thought logically and found it well priced due to its sorted driving dynamics. I saw a poll to choose one car between the Polo GT TSI and the Abarth Punto and the results are surprising.
Around 75% of the people voted for the Abarth Punto. Suddenly, the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI which was the default choice of enthusiasts in the segment became a back bench contender. But things don’t end here. While most said they like the Abarth more, they would buy the GT TSI. Their reason? It is a more ‘practical’ option since it has an AT gearbox and is cheaper. Now this is what makes me call enthusiasts confused. Since when did these factors become a buying criterion for a hot hatch? Enthusiasts are definitely confused.