Performance-oriented hatchbacks have started gaining popularity with the enthusiasts in the country. Although the market is still niche, it is still growing at a gradual rate. In this race, Maruti Suzuki isn't present yet, however, with the launch of the Baleno RS, the carmaker is all set to compete in this segment as well. We do a specification comparison between the Volkswagen GT TSI, Abarth Punto and the Baleno RS.
Design and Features
Both, the Abarth Punto and the Polo GT TSI have a conventional design language when compared to the Baleno RS. The latter is has a more dynamic design language over the other two in this aspect. That said, all three cars are based on their calmer siblings, the Baleno being the youngest competitor takes the cake cleanly. That said, the contemporary design of the other two cars isn't that bad. The equipment level on the exterior of the Baleno RS will also be a notch higher than the competition as it would come with projector headlamps, while the others don't have this feature. The rest of the equipment levels on the exterior largely remains the same.
Inside, all cars are offered with an all-black theme but the Baleno RS will be the only one to offer a touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and a new software update is also expected which may also include Android Auto support. However, the Volkswagen GT TSI and the Fiat Abarth Punto have an audio system that also supports phone connectivity and other necessary functions but misses out on a more intuitive touchscreen unit and seamless connectivity of a smartphone's features.
On paper, the Fiat Punto Abarth is the most powerful among the three with 145 hp at 5,500 rpm and 212 Nm of torque from 2,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm. The Polo GT TSI is midway with 103 hp of power at 5,000 rpm and 175 Nm of torque between 1,500 rpm and 4,100 rpm. The Baleno RS is the least powerful with 100 hp of power at 5,500 rpm and 150 Nm of torque from 1,700 rpm to 4,500 rpm. However, the new offering from Maruti Suzuki is the lightest with 960 kg while the Volkswagen has a kerb weight of 1,105 kg and the Abarth Punto is the heaviest with 1,198 kg.
That said, the power-to-weight ratio of the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS sits midway between the Polo GT TSI and Abarth Punto at 104 hp per tonne. The Volkswagen has the least power-to-weight ratio at 93 hp per tonne while the Abarth Punto is 121 hp per tonne. Overall, the Abarth Punto, despite being the heaviest comes on top in the performance front.
The only problem with the Fiat Abarth as well as the Baleno RS is the non-availability of an automatic transmission. Although a manual gearbox is more engaging to drive, it does have its shortcomings when driving through start/stop traffic. This is where the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI has a slight advantage as it is the only one to be offered with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
In terms of safety, all cars are equipped with dual front airbags as well as ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), but the Polo GT TSI has a higher level of equipment in addition to the aforementioned features has Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and Hill Hold Assist. While ESP assists in controlling the vehicle when it loses traction and Hill Hold Assist is useful when the car has to be started from an idle position at an incline and it prevents the car from rolling back.
Here the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI has the best equipment level when compared to the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS and the Fiat Abarth Punto.
While the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI has an ex-showroom price of 9.10 lakh in Delhi, the Abarth Punto carries a price tag of Rs 9.90 lakh. In order to keep the competition stiff, Maruti Suzuki would have to price the Baleno RS aggressively. Expected price of the new performance-oriented hatchback is Rs 9 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, however, a lower introductory price tag would be better in order to attract more potential customers.