Maruti-Suzuki Baleno vs Volkswagen Polo Comparison

Baleno vs Polo Comparison

Verdict: Polo diesel is better than Baleno, Polo automatic is better than Baleno automatic, but manual Baleno petrol is better than Polo

Pricing & Features: The top-end, ‘GT’ variant of the diesel Polo costs 8.58 Lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. Baleno’s top-end diesel variant, ‘Alpha’ is around 50,000 cheaper, retailing for 8.11 Lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. In spite of being cheaper, the Baleno also has way more features than the Polo as listed below. Baleno’s additional features are worth at least 50,000 Rs. making it a whopping 1 Lakh rupees cheaper than an equivalent Polo.

Common Features: ABS, Airbags-2, Climate Control, Power Steering, Power Windows, Central Locking, Keyless Entry, Stereo: FM, Aux, Bluetooth + 4 Speakers, Steering Wheel Switches, Electrically Adjustable & Folding Mirrors, Rear Defogger, Fog Lamps, Driver’s Seat Height Adjust, Parking Sensors, Alloys, Telescopic Steering Adjust, Auto-Up Anti-Pinch Driver’s Window, Cruise Control
Extra Features in Polo (GT): Cornering Lamps, Power Window by Remote, Anti Pinch Windows (all 4)
Extra Features in Baleno (Zeta): Parking Camera, Auto-dimming Inner Mirror, Projector Headlamps, LED DRLs, Push Button Start & Smart Key, Light Sensing Headlamps, 7” Touch-screen, Navigation, Apple CarPlay

Fuel Efficiency:
Diesel: Baleno has an ARAI certified mileage of 27.4 kmpl, which is 7.49 kmpl more than Polo GT’s mileage of 19.91 kmpl (Polo’s lower variants have an ARAI certified mileage of 20.14 kmpl). However in our back-to-back tests the difference was down to just over 3 kmpl. This translates to a significant savings of around 75,000 Rs. over a usage of 75,000 km with the Baleno over the Polo

Petrol: The manual geared Baleno has an ARAI certified mileage of 21.4 kmpl, which is 4.93 kmpl more than Polo’s mileage of 16.47 kmpl. In our back-to-back tests, the Baleno was consistently more than 2 kmpl more efficient than the Liva. The CVT equipped automatic Baleno is also certified at 21.4 kmpl by ARAI and the DSG dual-clutch gearbox equipped Polo is rated at 16.47 kmpl. However, the difference between the automatics was much lower as the Baleno was just over 1 kmpl more efficient than the Polo GT TSI. This makes the petrol powered Polo around 85,000 Rs. more expensive than the Baleno in terms of fuel cost over a usage of 60,000 km.

Performance & Drivability:
Petrol: The Baleno has far superior performance than the manual Polo throughout the rev-range. Volkswagen’s naturally aspirated, 3-cylinder unit is highly underpowered to propel it high kerb weight and is also no match for the refinement and rev-happy nature of Suzuki’s K12 unit. The K12’s ballistic top-end leaves the Polo literally biting dust. However the stakes are turned when the automatics are pitched against each other. Baleno’s CVT and Volkswagen’s DSG are equally good on city roads, with perfectly smooth transition and ease of driving. But as the speeds rise, the CVT gets totally outclassed by the DSG. The CVT does not have the ability to downshift when instant acceleration is required, for example while overtaking heavy vehicles on the highway. But the DSG can downshift multiple times in the blink of an eye with utter jerk free transition and pull effortless overtaking maneuvers. Of course it is aided by the fantastic 1.2 TSI turbo-petrol engine which delivers an impressive 175 Nm of torque for an ultra-wide power-band starting at 1500 rpm and stretching all the way up to 4100 rpm. Only problem is that the Polo GT TSI is 1.82 lakh rupees more expensive than the Baleno given their ex-showroom Delhi prices of 8.58 Lakh & 6.76 Lakh respectively.

Power (PS@rpm): Polo – 75@5400, Polo GT – 105@5000, Baleno – 84.3@6000
Torque (Nm@rpm): Polo – 110@3750, Polo GT – 175@1500-4100, Baleno – 114@4000
Kerb Weight (kg): Polo – 1049, Polo GT – 1109, Baleno – 875
Power to Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Polo – 71, Polo GT – 95, Baleno – 96
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Polo – 105, Polo GT – 158, Baleno – 131

Diesel: Both the standard Polo and Polo GT perform significantly better than the diesel Baleno. Firstly, they have none of the turbo-lag of the Baleno, which gets going only post 2000 rpm, whereas the Polo’s get going from 1500 rpm itself. Secondly the mid-range performance of Polo is stronger than the Baleno and that is in spite of the almost 175 kg weight disadvantage! That’s how torque the Volkswagen diesel mills are. Even the top-end performance of the Baleno diesel is no match for the Polo. Polo’s engine also revs higher and more freely than the Baleno’s and is more refined as well.

Power (PS@rpm): Polo – 90@4200, Polo GT – 105@4400, Baleno – 75@4000
Torque (Nm@rpm): Polo - 230@1500-2500, Polo GT – 250@1500-2500, Baleno – 190@2000
Kerb Weight (kg): Polo – 1142, Polo GT – 1148, Baleno – 975
Power to Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Polo – 79, Polo GT – 91, Baleno – 77
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Polo - 201, Polo GT – 218, Baleno – 195

Handling & Ride Quality: Polo is far more dynamically accomplished than the Baleno. Ride is slightly stiffer but not uncomfortable than the Baleno. But the Polo’s handling is in a different league altogether. It has excellent mechanical grip coupled to a well-weighted, feel-some steering rack as opposed to the Baleno’s overtly light, lifeless unit. Even the straight line stability of the Polo is supreme at speeds as silly as 190 kmph, Baleno is not unstable either, but it does not inspire the same confidence as the Polo, be it at high speed cruising or during panic braking situations.

Ground Clearance (mm): Polo – 165, Baleno - 180

Space & Comfort: The Baleno is a noticeably more spacious car than the Polo, especially at the rear. The Polo has adequate space for two occupants. Squeezing in a third passenger becomes uncomfortable in the Polo. But in the Baleno there is enough space for three full-size adults and on rare occasions you can even squeeze in a fourth passenger at the rear. Both Baleno and Polo have small glasshouse and hence feel claustrophobic at the rear. Polo's beige interiors help a little in lifting the mood inside the cabin, while Baleno's endless expanse of grey plastics is a bit of a downer. Polo has one of the biggest boots of any hatchback in the country with enough space to carry five people's weekend luggage but the Baleno does even better by offering 40 odd litres of extra luggage space over the Polo, almost approaching compact sedan territory.

Boot Space (litres): Polo – 294, Baleno - 339
Length (mm): Polo – 3971, Baleno - 3995
Width (mm): Polo – 1682, Baleno - 1745
Height (mm): Polo – 1469, Baleno - 1500

Reliability & After Sales Service: Maruti reign supreme in Indian market when it comes to providing After sales Service, while Volkswagen continues to struggle to eke out half-decent Service Support from the new Politico-Mafia dealers that it has appointed in India. Volkswagen’s constant hurry of adopting the latest technology and its unpreparedness to the harshness of Indian road/traffic conditions has resulted in questionable product reliability; take the DSG gearbox for an example. Under-trained Service Staff has exacerbated this problem further resulting in the overall dissatisfaction of its customers in our country. No surprises then that the Baleno is bound to depreciate at least 50,000 Rs. lesser than an equivalent Polo over a usage of 5 to 7 years.

Verdict: The diesel Polo will cost around 2.25 lakh more than an equivalent Baleno, but then it is genuinely worth two segments higher than the Baleno, with performance stronger than a Honda City, just to put things into perspective. Polo also has the dynamics that will bring a smile to your face and yet keep you stable and safe, as well as the premium fit-finish to convincingly connect its lineage to the Audis. Same goes for the DSG equipped Polo GT TSI, which again is totally worth the extra 2.5 lakh rupees in ownership costs over the automatic Baleno. However, the tables get turned when it comes to manual geared petrols. Paying 2.25 lakh rupees more than a Baleno for a sorely power deficient Polo and suffering through the sub-par level drivability for the years of ownership is just not worth it.