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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

June 25, 2013 07:20 IST

Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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Arup Das


Enthusiasts have always dreamt about them, and only a few companies have dared to take the plunge - with discouraging results. We are talking about hatchbacks equipped with stallion power.

Two automobile manufacturers who still believe in this dream are Toyota and Volkswagen. Their new attemps: EtiosLiva TRD Sportivo and the Polo 1.2 GT TSI.

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Image: Toyota EtiosLiva TRD Sportivo.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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The German car maker's first attempt at boosting its hatchback's power, the Polo 1.6-litre, came and went without even a whimper.

Now the rechristened Polo 1.2 GT TSI boasts of many firsts, the most notable being that it is the only turbo-charged powered hatch with Volkswagen's famed automatic gear box, the direct shift gear (DSG).

Toyota's Sportivo now gets additional body kit to differentiate it from the regular Liva, and it also gets the Etios sedan's 1.5-litre petrol engine.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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All for a new image

Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has stuck to the original roots, but added plenty of cosmetic tweaks. The Sportivo looks like a pepped-up compact car straight out of a Fast and the Furious movie.

It comes with enhanced rear and front bumpers, side skirts and a big rear spoiler. Toyota has laid it on a bit thick with the TRD Sportivo badging.

The attractive 15-inch gun-metal finish alloys add some serious spunk to the hatch, but the cheap-looking graphics detract from its class.

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Image: Toyota EtiosLiva Sportivo.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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The Polo TSI, on the other hand, is almost a carbon copy of the regular Polo. So those wishing to buy a car that distinguishes itself from its lesser siblings will be disappointed. The only mark of distinction is the GT badges on the front grille and at the rear.

The tasteless grey GT TSI stickers on the C-pillar should have been avoided. It is okay to have no new kit, but at least racing strips could have provided some difference in the looks department.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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The inside job

Step inside the Sportivo and it is a blast from the past, the 1980s to Polo GT TSIbe precise. Apart from the all-black dashboard and grey-and-black upholstery with the TRD Sportivo logo, the cabin build and quality still look cheap because of the hard plastics.

But the interiors feel spacious and come with a 2-DIN music system, ABS and two airbags, even if the switches feel substandard.

We would have liked the car to have electronic ORVM controls rather than manual adjustment.

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Image: Interior of Toyota EtiosLiva Sportivo.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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The GT and top-of-the-line Polo have the same interior specs. It comes with ESP, steering mounted controls, which also helps you change tracks on your mobile phone via Bluetooth and to adjust the climate control.

Though the seats are more good, the interiors of the GT feels slightly cramped as compared with the Sportivo's. But the build quality is far superior to the Toyota hatchback's.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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Stallion power

The Sportivo's 1.5-litre engine is not a slouch by any means. It is responsive and has a healthy power thrust at the initial stages.

With a fairly strong low and mid-range power, the Toyota hatch is a practical city car as it lets you overtake with ease and is quick off the traffic signals.

The five-speed gear box's ratio is ideal for urban conditions because you don't need to keep changing gears regularly. But step on the gas and the power doesn't send your adrenaline rushing.

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Image: Toyota EtiosLiva Sportivo engine.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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The GT is all about performance and the 1.2 TSI manages to churn out 105 PS - the same as the power of the phased-out 1.6 Polo. It has smooth power delivery and is responsive in all three driving options, the D, S or manual.

But in the latter two, the engine is free-revving, and kisses the red mark on the rpm metre before you even feel the need to change gears. Therefore, the "wunderkind", the DSG, lets you drive the way you want to. It complements your carefree mood if it needs to.

The GT has undoubtedly the best technology when it comes to the engine and gearbox as the car is always ready to sprint whether it be at low or at high revs.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI engine.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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In-the-saddle experience

This is where things aren't quite so cheerful for the Sportivo. It has the same suspensions as the Liva and this makes the hatch not too easy in the handling department. Tweaks on the suspension would have ironed out that problem.

The steering wheel gives no feedback. On a positive note, its larger tyres provide decent grip, but be prepared for body roll.

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Image: Toyota EtiosLiva Sportivo.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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The Polo has always been easy to handle, and the GT has inherited the same DNA. The steering wheel is crisp and responsive, which makes driving fun.

The regular Polo's suspensions are more sporty because they have been modified keeping the passenger's comfort in mind. While it holds its own in the handling department, it, however, lacks sharp body control.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI pedals.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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Which is the better buy?

We are talking about hot hatches, so we are not tied down by price tag and fuel economy. Purely based on performance and drive experience, the better of the two has to be the VW GTI TSI.

It is also better built and comes with more features, and its simple muscular look appeals more. But if bling is your game, then it is the Sportivo - it comes with additional body kit and has a fairly fast engine. It is also cheaper than the GT.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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Etios Liva TRD Sportivo

Engine: 1496 cc

Power: 90PS @5600 rpm

Torque: 132 Nm @ 3000 rpm

Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Price: Rs 613,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi)

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Image: Toyota EtiosLiva Sportivo
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Hot hatches: EtiosLiva Sportivo vs. Polo GT TSI

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Polo GT TSI

Engine: 1197cc

Power: 105PS at 5000rpm

Torque: 175Nm at 1500rpm

Gearbox: 7 speed DSG automatic

Price: Rs 799,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi)


Image: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
Photographs: Courtesy, Volkswagen

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