The Fiat Punto Evo and new Volkswagen Polo take on the best selling Maruti Swift yet again, says Faisal Ali Khan of MotorBeam.com
Premium hatchbacks are becoming more popular in India as they offer the features of big cars in a smaller footprint, thereby making them easy to manoeuvre in our ever crowding cities.
The Maruti Swift is India's top selling premium hatchback and to challenge its lead, Volkswagen has updated the Polo with minor cosmetic changes inside-out along with giving it a new diesel engine.
Fiat too has updated the Punto Evo and while the mechanicals remain the same, the styling has been revised extensively. So which of these three cars is the best?
While the Maruti Swift is the most boring car of the lot, due to its age and lack of design highlights, the Punto and Polo come across as fresh since they were refreshed only recently.
The Polo has classic VW design cues which are very appealing and give it that feeling of a hot hatchback but it's without doubt the Punto Evo which is the best looking car of the trio.
The Punto's styling is extremely well carried off, it looks mind-bogglingly good and the way the car's various elements gel together, gives it an appearance of being much more expensive than it actually is.
Park all these cars side by side and it's the Fiat which solicits a second glance.
Step inside the cabin and yet again it's the Swift which has the oldest dashboard of the three since the Punto and Polo were recently updated.
The Punto Evo borrows its dashboard from the Linea while the Polo shares its cabin with the Vento, and the Swift with the DZire (there are of course changes to differentiate them).
The Punto Sport gets all black interiors while lower variants get dual tone black and beige interiors.
We love the piano black finishing on the centre console of the Fiat and the build quality is the best here, followed closely by the Polo.
In terms of space, the Fiat Punto easily leads with the most rear seat legroom; it's also the only car here with a rear AC vent.
Both the Swift and Polo lack rear seat space but the Maruti car also feels a bit claustrophobic due to the small windows.
The seats are best on the Swift though. The Punto and Polo both have a 280-litre boot while the Maruti has a small 206-litre trunk making it the smallest here.
All cars come with a lot of equipment but Bluetooth connectivity is shockingly missing on the Swift.
Quality of the Polo is the best and it also has the best steering wheel design with a 3-spoke flat bottom.
The Polo gets features like reverse parking sensors, cornering lights and one touch up/down for the power windows, no other car offers this feature.
Still, as far as the interior department goes, the Punto with its solidity and more space wins this round too.
The Punto and Swift share their diesel engines but the state of tune is different and so is the gearing.
In spite of the Punto Sport having more power, the Swift is quicker than the Fiat owing to its light weight.
The Polo with its new 1.5-litre 90 BHP engine is the fastest car here; it simply is unmatched in this regard. The VW is also the most drivable with an excellent low-end punch.
In terms of petrol engines, the Swift's K-Series motor is the best among the other two cars but the Polo also comes with a 1.2 GT TSI variant which is simply outstanding but priced too high in comparison.
Thus diesel or petrol, the Polo has the best performing engines.
All these three cars will entertain you plenty with their sharp handling but the Polo has the best blend of steering feel and body control.
The Punto has the most grip, the Swift has the most responsive steering but the Polo is the most fun to drive car.
The Punto has the highest ground clearance which robs it from being very agile but this Italian machine has the best ride quality here, followed by the Polo, the Swift being the worst. Braking performance on the Polo and Punto is excellent.
So which of these three cars is the best? The Swift might be the most in demand but is the least impressive, it lacks equipment, rear seat comfort and boot space, it comes last.
The Punto Evo is an exciting package but lack of performance really robs it from a win, Fiat should have given some mechanical updates to the car to help it outrun the competition which comes with very potent engines.
The winner of this shootout is without doubt the Volkswagen Polo. It has the best engine along with excellent dynamics, a feature loaded cabin and amazing quality too.
It's a car which is able to balance everything very well, making it our pick of the lot.