Automatic hatchbacks: Hyundai i20 vs Volkswagen Polo GT

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VW and Hyundai think there's a sizeable market for automatic hatchbacks. But who makes the better one? VW and Hyundai think there's a sizeable market for automatic hatchbacks. But who makes the better one?
SummaryVW and Hyundai think there's a sizeable mkt for automatic hatchbacks. But who makes the better one?

What’s new?

There is nothing more convenient than owning a hatch in the city. They are easy to drive, easy to place in traffic and, most importantly, easy to park. All these strengths are ideal if you drive the car yourself. But, if you add an automatic transmission, it takes the ease of driving to a whole new level.

The problems with automatic hatches are that they come with expensive price tags and return low fuel efficiency. However, where you stand to lose on price and higher fuel consumption, you stand to gain tremendously in terms of convenience.

Now, with people ready to spend more on hatchbacks, better technology is finding its way into these cars and automatic gearboxes are slowly gaining in popularity.

The i20 automatic has been around for eons (pun intended), but it never really caught on. It was launched at a time when diesel cars were the way to go and the fact that it was only available powered by a petrol engine meant running costs would be high. But now, with the diminishing gap between petrol and diesel prices, the i20 is back in contention. It’s got a large 1.4-litre motor, has space for five, and is easy to drive too.

The focal point of this comparison, however, is the new kid on the block and the more powerful 103bhp Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. VW has equipped the GT with technology never seen before on a hatchback. It brings direct injection and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox to the party. Priced at R7.99 lakh, the Polo GT is only R13,000 more expensive than the i20. So, is it an easy win for the Polo or does the i20 still have some fight left in it?

What are they like inside?

Step into the Polo GT and it’s clear why this car costs so much more than its rivals. Everything from the well contoured seats, the switchgear and the upholstery is well made. In terms of the quality of materials in the cabin, the Polo is the better of the two and the attention to detail is also very good. But all this is somewhat negated by the rather plain-jane dashboard. It comes finished in dull grey and looks simply boring.

The front seats are well contoured, but if you’re planning to travel with more than two people, the Polo is not for you. The rear bench lacks sufficient space and the tapering roofline means

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