Maruti Suzuki Swift v VW Polo

The new Maruti Suzuki Swift is the lat­est en­trant into the hatch­back seg­ment and steps into the same space that the VW Polo oc­cu­pies. So which one should you buy?

Car India - - CONTENTS -

The smart, new Swift takes on the ‘built-likea-tank’ Volk­swa­gen Polo

The Swift and the Polo are two much vaunted lin­eages in In­dia’s hatch­back mar­ket. Two names eas­ily rec­og­nized and two cars eas­ily spot­ted in In­dia’s ur­ban jun­gle. By virtue of their longevity, both had also be­gun to feel a lit­tle dated of late. To counter that, the Polo has been re­freshed in the re­cent past, and the Swift has es­sen­tially changed in ev­ery re­spect apart from the name and the en­gine op­tions. They’re both priced within a few thou­sand ru­pees of each other, which means that if you’re look­ing to buy one, you will prob­a­bly con­sider the other too. So it only makes sense that we put them to the test and see which one comes out on top.

In terms of aes­thet­ics, the Polo is still dis­tinc­tively fa­mil­iar. The sharp lines and sim­ple fas­cia give it a more un­der­stated and con­spic­u­ous look as op­posed to its com­peti­tor. The Swift, on the other hand, is brand-new and looks a lot more in line with cur­rent de­sign trends. The elon­gated bon­net, big grille, LED DRL-lined head­lamps, and smooth, svelte lines are all very con­tem­po­rary el­e­ments. The swept­back head­lamp de­sign catches the eye, as does the door-han­dle de­sign for the rear doors. Style is al­ways sub­jec­tive and both cars do have their own dis­tinct ap­proaches. In the eyes of this par­tic­u­lar be­holder, though, the Swift comes out on top in the looks depart­ment.

In terms of di­men­sions, the two are pretty close. The Swift has a shorter wheel­base and over­all length, although it is taller and wider than the Polo. The ground clear­ance on both cars dif­fers only by two mil­lime­tres and tilts in favour of the Polo.

Mov­ing on to the in­te­rior, both cars are fairly well put to­gether. The Swift has a nice dark themed in­te­rior with a black-and-sil­ver dash and seats wrapped in black and grey too. The dash on the Polo, too, is black and sil­ver, although the in­te­rior and seats have more of a beige tinge. The qual­ity of the plas­tics is es­sen­tially the same, as is the amount of stor­age space spread around the cabin. Both cars can just about squeeze in five peo­ple and there’s noth­ing much to sep­a­rate the two in terms of seat com­fort. How­ever, where the Swift wins out is in terms of knee-room, though this comes at a com­pro­mise: there’s 280 litres worth of boot space in the Polo as op­posed to 268 litres in the Swift. The Swift also has a smaller 37-litre fuel tank while the Polo’s boasts of a ca­pac­ity of 45 litres. Fea­ture-wise, both cars sport some cool kit.

Both cars have touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment with the usual USB, AU X, and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity so­lu­tions, voice com­mands, and in­te­grated park­ing cam­eras and sen­sors. Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto are present and cor­rect, too, and this, cou­pled with steer­ing-mounted con­trols, means en­joy­ing your tunes is eas­ily

ac­com­plished in both cars. How­ever, while both cars get auto lights and auto cli­mate con­trol, only the Polo gets rain-sens­ing wipers and cruise con­trol.

Safety tech-wise, both cars get ABS and dual-front airbags as stan­dard across vari­ants, so noth­ing to sep­a­rate the two here. But all things con­sid­ered the Polo has the bet­ter kit of the two cars when you think about it.

The two pow­er­trains are quite dif­fer­ent from each other, at least on pa­per. We drove the diesel man­ual ver­sions of both cars and the Polo is still pow­ered by the same 1.5-litre TDI in-line four that pro­duces 90 PS at 4,200 rpm and 230 Nm of torque at 1,500-2,500 rpm. The Swift, on the other hand, is pow­ered by a 1.3-litre four-cylin­der DDiS 190 en­gine that is ca­pa­ble of churn­ing out 75 PS at 4,000 rpm and 190 Nm of twist peak­ing at 2,000 rpm. En­gines of both cars are mated to five-speed gear­boxes. The Swift starts up with a push of a but­ton and the gear­box slots into place smoothly. The Polo re­quires the key to fire up and its gear­box is pretty smooth through the mo­tions too. The Swift lives up to its moniker when driv­ing in a straight line, though, for it beat its ri­val across the board

The Polo has been re­freshed in the re­cent past and the Swift has es­sen­tially changed in ev­ery re­spect apart from the name and the en­gine op­tions

in our per­for­mance runs. For ex­am­ple, the Swift clocked 80 km/h in 9.16 sec­onds and 100 km/h in 13.37 s. The Polo man­ages the same speeds in 10.44 s and 15.03 s re­spec­tively. NVH lev­els in both cars are re­spectable, so no com­plaints there.

Com­ing to ride qual­ity, the Swift is a tad more adept at bump ab­sorp­tion. This is be­cause the Swift is sprung slightly softer and takes in the speed­break­ers and “car-breakers” (the huge pot­holes our roads so de­light in sud­denly toss­ing up) with a lit­tle more grace. The Polo isn’t bad at soak­ing up the bumps ei­ther; though the Swift does edge it in this re­spect. When you show them a cor­ner, the Polo takes the lead in the ride qual­ity stakes. It’s more planted and more ag­ile than its Ja­panese chal­lenger and, in the bends, a lot more fun to drive. Both cars come with leather-wrapped flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheels, but even the steer­ing on the Polo is a lot more pre­cise and com­mu­nica­tive than that on the Swift. Although both these cars sport a front-disc, rear-drum brake set-up, the Polo takes the win in the brak­ing stakes as it per­forms bet­ter when stop­ping from 100-0 km/h: 3.04 s and 40.86 m, and in 80-0 km/h brak­ing per­for­mance 2.40 s and 26.39 m taken to come to a stand­still. The Swift is a lit­tle slower to a stand­still and re­quires a longer dis­tance in both re­spects.

Both cars are neck and neck in terms of fuel ef­fi­ciency, too, post­ing over­alls of 17 km/l for the Polo and 18 km/l for the Swift. Price-wise you’re look­ing at shelling out Rs 8.78 lakh for the Ger­man and Rs 8.29 for the Indo-Ja­panese hatch. So the big ques­tion is: which should you choose? The newer, cheaper, and more ef­fi­cient Swift or the more un­der­stated, fun-to-drive, and harder brak­ing Polo? Well, that mostly de­pends on what you’re look­ing to get out of the car. For me, I’d usu­ally go fun all the way, but if I were buy­ing a hatch, my pri­or­ity is more likely to be city use; so for its softer sus­pen­sion, bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency and the 50k-odd I’d save, and the fact that I think its the bet­ter looker too, the Swift would be my pick of the duo.

( Right) The Polo has also got an un­der­stated in­te­rior with a brand new touch­screen

( Above) 1.5 TDI pro­duces 90 PS and 230 Nm

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