Hyundai Elite i20 vs Volkswagen Polo 1.5: Diesel Comparison Review

  • Sep 11, 2014
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We put the Volkswagen Polo 1.5 and the Hyundai Elite i20 through its paces to find out which one emerges at the top
Hyundai Elite i20 vs VW Polo 1.5

Recently, we pitched the newly launched Volkswagen Polo and Fiat Punto Evo against the trusted Maruti Suzuki Swift and the practical Nissan Micra to conclude that even minor tweaks to a car in the right direction can change the way it is perceived. That’s the story that the new Volkswagen Polo is here to tell. (Read the Comparison Review here)

But what happens when you bring an all new car into the picture; a car that registered more than 15,000 bookings in less than a month of its launch; a car that not only expands on the virtues of its previous version but improves upon its shortcomings? The Elite i20 is that car and it must beat our current winner in this class of diesel hatchbacks, the Volkswagen Polo 1.5, for us to give it a proper thumbs up. 

So, here goes.

Volkswagen Polo i1.5 and Hyundai Elite i2

Exterior Styling / Design

We have always loved the way the Volkswagen Polo looked but when pitched against the new Hyundai Elite i20 it is the latter that wins the beauty contest. That said, despite the fact that the Polo has been around for a while in essentially the same clothing - the facelift notwithstanding - the design still doesn't feel dated. In fact, the new headlights, the redesigned bumper with the chrome strip and the new grille with the chrome highlight make it look more imposing than before. While the changes at the front are few but fine, we would have loved to see something new at the back as well. 

Park the new Volkswagen Polo next to the Hyundai Elite i20 and it is evident why the latter scores higher in terms of styling. The larger dimensions and the 16-inch wheels give it a more striking stance. Following the Fluidic Sculpture 2 design language, the Hyundai Elite i20 gets a hexagonal grille flanked by large swept back head lamps. The mesh that houses the fog lamps and additional lines on the hood, add character to the front. The sweeping roofline that leads into the blackened out C-pillar gives the Elite i20’s profile an aggressive look. Much of the oddly shaped rear though doesn't sync well with the rest of the body. The LED tail lights however work well in shifting your focus from the overall design at the back. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 3

Hyundai Elite i20: 4.5

Volkswagen Polo 1.5 interiors

Interior and Space:

It’s a similar story on the inside. The overall layout of the new Volkswagen Polo remains unchanged as does the dual tone colour scheme. Thanks to the generous use of beige, the cabin feels extremely airy. Plastic quality on the dash and other panels is top notch and the flat-bottom steering wheel with the piano black and silver accents - a new addition - gives the interior a sporty look. Seats meanwhile are comfortable with sufficient under thigh support. In the new Polo, Volkswagen has addressed one of the biggest drawbacks of its predecessor, rear leg room. With the help of scooped up front seats and a 13mm longer wheelbase, the German hatch does make a little more room for passengers at the back but it is still not enough. Moreover, the transmission tunnel at the back eats into foot space of the third passenger at the back. 

Hyundai Elite i20 interiors
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The Hyundai Elite i20 looks a lot fresher and younger than its German rival on the inside. The combination of beige and black has been carried forward to the door panels as well as the seat fabric giving it a vibrant feel. The overall quality is good but doesn't feel as rock solid as the Polo. The three-spoke multi-functional steering wheel feels nice to hold. If space is what you are looking for, the Elite i20 offers it in plenty. The wheelbase is more than 100mm longer than the Polo and it shows. The rear seat has a lot more knee room. In fact, it is even wider than the Polo thanks to which there is enough shoulder for three adults at the back. The flat floor means, the third passenger can sit comfortably as well. The rear doesn’t feel as airy however thanks to sloping down roof line and relatively smaller rear windows.

Ergonomics on both the cars are sound with all buttons well within reach. That said, the cup holders up front on the Elite i20 are a lot easier to use than on the Polo. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 3

Hyundai Elite i20: 4

Hyundai Elite i20 features

Features & Equipment

First let’s get the common features out of the way. Both cars get steering mounted controls, integrated audio system with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity and climate control. The top of the line variant on both cars get Antilock Braking System (ABS) but while all the variants of the Polo get dual airbags, only the top-of-the-line Asta variant on the Elite i20 gets it. 

These aside, the Polo falls behind in terms of overall equipment. While the Elite i20 gets a reversing camera the Polo makes do with just parking sensors. The Elite i20 gets keyless entry and go, auto folding ORVMs and a cooled glove box, all of which are missing on the Polo. The Hyundai also gets rear AC vents. The auto locking doors on the Polo are missing on the Elite i20 though. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 3

Hyundai Elite i20: 4.5

Hyundai Elite i20 and VW Polo 1.5 in action

Ride and ease of driving

Considering the amount of time we spend driving in the city, ride and ease of driving plays a crucial role in making the car easy to live with. And in that regard the Polo and the Elite i20 score equally. The Polo has a heavier clutch but it also has better visibility in its favour which makes it easy to drive and park even in the city. The Polo’s suspension is better setup as well. It provides a plush ride even on broken roads and at high speeds. The steering feels well weighted and confident. 

The Elite i20 meanwhile might offer acceptable visibility at the front and through the sides, but the same cannot be said about the rear. The puny glass on the tail gate makes it rather difficult to reverse-in tight spots. That said, the rear view camera helps in making the task easier. The Elite i20’s suspension is setup more for comfort than anything else, and while it does go over potholes of all sizes without sending painful messages to your back, the same virtue makes it a little nervous at high speeds. The light clutch effort makes city driving a piece of cake. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 4

Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5

Volkswagen Polo 1.5 engine

Engines & Performance

The Volkswagen Polo gets a bigger, more powerful and gutsier diesel 1.5-litre engine compared to its predecessor. It feels a lot smoother when you start it up and the NVH levels are controlled as well. As opposed to the three pot mill of the outgoing model, the new four-cylinder heart feels a lot more energetic thanks to its readily available 90PS of power and 230Nm of torque. Push the pedal deeper and it climbs up the rev counter with ease. Although the engine takes a little while to come into its own, once past the 1,500rpm it pulls comfortably all the way up to 4,000rpm. The 5-speed gearbox the engine is mated to is slick too. The combination of an enthusiastic heart and a precise gearbox makes the new Volkswagen Polo an absolute bliss to drive on open roads. It not only touches the ton in a jiffy but also can cruise comfortably at speeds of over 150kmph with utmost ease. 

Hyundai Elite i20 engine

Drive the Hyundai Elite i20 thereafter and the difference in dynamic abilities of the two cars becomes immediately evident. The Hyundai’s 1.4-litre mill makes an identical 90PS of power as the Polo but it slightly down on torque at 220Nm. On the road, turbo lag on the i20 is more pronounced compared to the Polo. Only once you cross the 2,000rpm marker does it actually get going thanks to which it does get a little difficult to make those swift overtaking manoeuvres. But, when it comes to outright performance, the cars are pretty similar. The Hyundai engine sounds and feels smoother as does the 6-speed gearbox. Overall, the Polo’s new engine is the one we would settle for. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 4.5

Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5

Volkswagen Polo 1.5 in action

Handling & Braking

The Volkswagen Polo was and continues to be a car with great driving dynamics. The steering is precise and has enough feel to let you know exactly where the wheels are pointing. It has just the right amount of stiffness to inspire confidence while cornering as well as offer a comfortable ride, much like a perfectly mixed cocktail. The 185/60 R15 tyres do not throw any tantrums even when you push it to the limit. Brakes are quite sharp and can bring the car down to zero before you can say stop. 

Hyundai Elite i20 in action

While the Hyundai Elite i20 is without doubt a leap over its predecessor in terms of handling, it doesn't feel as positive round bends as its rival in discussion. The steering lacks feel and though the change in the suspension geometry has improved its straight line stability, it still feels nervous under braking and hard cornering; this is relative to the Polo, mind. Moreover, the Elite i20 brakes don’t deliver similar potent bite or progression as the Polo even though both cars use similar setup for brakes.

New Volkswagen Polo: 4.5

Hyundai Elite i20: 3.5

Hyundai Elite i20 vs Volkswagen Polo 1.5

Price and Fuel efficiency

At Rs 7.37 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the top-end Highline trim the Volkswagen Polo is Rs 30,000 cheaper than the Hyundai Elite i20. But consider into your calculations the fact that the latter has a lot more equipment then the extra amount paid feels worth its while and more. In terms of efficiency too the Elite i20 at 21.9kmpl is a step ahead of the Polo’s 20.1kmpl, both figures as per ARAI specification. 

New Volkswagen Polo: 4

Hyundai Elite i20: 4

Volkswagen Polo 1.5 and Hyundai Elite i20 rear


Well, this is an interesting one. Both cars bring to the table something that the other does not. With the Polo, Volkswagen has got the mechanicals spot on with an energetic engine, a slick gearbox and phenomenal dynamics. Hyundai on the other hand has hit the nail right on the head in terms of styling, space and equipment. So, if you want a fun to drive car, the Polo remains the hatchback to buy. But, if it’s a value package you want and one that’s better suited for family needs, there isn’t a better pick than the Hyundai Elite i20. As for us, as our ratings reveal, the Hyundai Elite i20 is the winner here. And it gets a big thumbs up from our end because to beat the Polo in its new avatar takes some doing.

New Volkswagen Polo: 3.5

Hyundai Elite i20: 4

Hyundai Elite i20 2017-2020 Video Review

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