Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison Review

Published on: Mar 21, 2017
Volkswagen Polo GT vs Maruti-Suzuki Baleno RS Comparison:

Part I
Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison of Pricing & Features: 

The top-end Baleno RS ‘Alpha’ costs 9.7 Lakh Rs, on road, Delhi, which is just 50,000 Rs. less, than the Polo GT 'TSI', costing 10.2 Lakh Rs. But then, the GT 'TSI', gets a Dual-clutch Automatic Gearbox, which is worth much more than 50,000, which actually makes the Polo GT, better value for money than the Baleno RS.

Both cars have a few extra features, which are absent in the other car. The Baleno RS gets Xenon HID Projector Headlamps, LED DRLs, Automatic Light Sensing Headlamps, Push Button Start and Smart Key and Apple CarPlay, which is absent in the Polo GT. However, the Polo GT itself gets Traction Control, Hill Hold, Remote Controlled Window Operation, All Windows Anti-pinch, Cornering Lamps, Cruise Control and Rain Sensing Wipers, which are absent in the Baleno RS.

This makes it clear that Maruti has gotten a bit overconfident, and put an exorbitantly high price tag on the Baleno RS.The Polo GT is also available in the diesel TDI guise, at a price of 10.5 Lakh Rs. but it misses out on Automatic Transmission, Traction Control & Hill Hold features of the petrol GT.

Pricing of other variants: 
Polo ‘GT TDI’ diesel-manual costs 10.5 Lakh Rs.

All prices on road, Delhi 

Common Features: ABS, Airbags -2, Climate Control, Power Steering, Power Windows, Central Locking, Keyless Entry, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Infotainment: FM, USB, Aux + 4 Speakers, Steering Wheel Switches, Touchscreen, Navigation, Fog Lamps, Electrically Folding Mirrors, Electrically Adjustable Mirrors, Rear Wash-Wipe-Defog, Alloy Wheels, Height Adjustable Driver’s Seat, Telescopic Steering Adjust, Auto-up Anti Pinch Driver’s Window, Auto Dimming Inside Mirror

Extra Features in Baleno RS (Alpha): Xenon HID Projector Headlamps, LED DRLs, Automatic Light Sensing Headlamps, Push Button Start and Smart Key, Apple CarPlay

Extra Features in Polo GT (TSI): Dual Clutch Automatic Gearbox, ESP, Hill Hold, Remote Controlled Window Operation, All Windows Anti-pinch, Cornering Lamps, Cruise Control, Rain Sensing Wipers

Part II
Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison of Performance & Dynamics: 

The Baleno RS has a 200cc smaller engine than the Polo GT TSI, but then it is over 150 kg lighter, and puts out almost as much power as the Polo, giving it marginally better power-to-weight ratio, than the Polo GT TSI. However, spec sheet calculations don't always translate into on-road performance! The Baleno RS is actually slower than the Polo GT TSI, in a 0-100 kph sprint. Polo GT TSI's Dual clutch automatic gearbox, changes gear quicker than most human beings, which coupled to a 25 Nm higher torque output, gives it an edge over the Baleno RS.

Needless to say, the DSG also makes the Polo TSI delightfully effortless during city commutes. At risk of sounding too greedy, we still wish it had a set of gearshift paddles, to fulfill our boy-racer fantasies.

But that's not all, we also have a dark horse in this shootout, the Polo GT TDI. It is way more torquey than both the petrol cars, with an unbelievable, 40% higher torque to weight ratio, than the petrols. This makes it just as quick as the Baleno RS, in terms of outright acceleration. But where it really shines, is in the in-gear roll-on figures, for example in 30 to 80 kph in 3rd gear and 40 to 100 kph in 4th gear, where it literally decimates the Baleno RS, making you wonder what is all the fuss about these turbo-petrol engines nowadays.

Power to Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Baleno RS – 107, Polo GT TSI – 95, Polo GT TDI - 91
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Baleno RS – 158, Polo GT TSI – 158, Polo GT TDI - 218 

Power (PS@rpm): Baleno RS – 102@5500, Polo GT TSI – 105@5000, Polo GT TDI – 105@4400
Torque (Nm@rpm): Baleno RS - 150@1700-4500, Polo GT TSI – 175@1500-4100, Polo GT TDI – 250@1500-2500
Kerb Weight (kg): Baleno RS – 950, Polo GT TSI – 1109, Polo GT TDI - 1148

Handling & Ride Quality: 
Polo GT is a far more dynamically accomplished vehicle, than the Baleno RS. Polo's ride is slightly stiffer, but not at all uncomfortable compared to the Baleno RS. 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, dull and lifeless unit. Even the straight line stability of the Polo is just remarkable at speeds as silly as 190 kmph. Baleno is not unstable either, just that it doesn’t feel like a locomotive on rails, as the Autobahn-tuned Polo does. Baleno’s rear-discs, lighter kerb weight and wider tyres give it a slight advantage in braking ability, over the Polo GT.

Ground Clearance (mm): Polo – 165, Baleno - 170

Wheelbase (mm): Baleno RS – 2520, Polo GT - 2469

Tyre Size: 
Baleno RS – 195/55R16
Polo - 185/60R15

Part III
Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison of Fuel Efficiency and Cost of Ownership: 
The Polo GT TSI has an ARAI certified mileage of 17.2 kmpl, which is 3.9 kmpl less than the Baleno RS, having a fuel efficiency of 21.1 kml. The Polo GT TDI has an ARAI mileage of 19.9 kmpl which is 1.2 kmpl less than the Baleno RS. In our back-to-back tests, the Baleno RS was over 2 kmpl more efficient than the TSI but 1 kmpl less efficient than the TDI Polo GT.

ARAI Mileage (kmpl): 
Polo GT TSI (petrol, automatic) – 17.21, Baleno RS (petrol, manual) – 21.1, Polo GT (diesel, manual) – 19.91

Fuel Cost for 75,000 km (in Lakh): 
Polo GT TSI (petrol, automatic) – 4.10 Lakh, Baleno RS (petrol, manual) – 3.40 Lakh, Polo GT (diesel, manual) – 2.80 Lakh

Reliability & After Sales Service: 
Maruti reigns supreme, in the Indian market, when it comes to Service Support, while Volkswagen continues to struggle, to eke out even 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 towards the harshness, of Indian road and traffic conditions, has resulted in questionable product reliability; take the DSG gearbox for example. Volkswagen's under-trained Service Staff, has worsened the situation further, resulting in the overall dissatisfaction of its customers, in our country.

Resale & Cost of Ownership:
The Baleno RS is bound depreciate to at least 1 Lakh Rs. lesser than the Polo GT, thanks to its relatively higher fuel efficiency and Maruti's advantage in terms of Service Support in India. Baleno's triple advantages of a slightly lower price-tag, slightly higher resale value and marginally lower fuel cost, when combined, gives it a notable 2 lakh Rs. lower Cost of Ownership, than the Polo GT TSI! The Polo GT TDI though is just 50,000 Rs. more expensive in long-term Ownership cost than the Baleno RS, since diesel cars depreciate slightly lesser and cost of fuel is lower as well.

Resale after 5 to 7 years est. (Lakh): 
Polo GT TSI (petrol, automatic) – 4.10 Lakh, Baleno RS (petrol, manual) – 4.85 Lakh, Polo GT (diesel, manual) – 4.60 Lakh

Total Cost of Ownership (in Lakh): (Vehicle Price + Fuel Cost – Resale Value)

Polo GT TSI (petrol, automatic) – 10.20 Lakh, Baleno RS (petrol, manual) – 8.25 Lakh, Polo GT (diesel, manual) – 8.70 Lakh

Part IV
Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison of Comfort & Interiors: 
The Baleno is marginally bigger than the Polo in all three dimensions. It is a noticeably more spacious car than the Polo, especially at the rear. Both cars have supremely comfortable front seats with well-judged driving positions. However at the rear, the Polo has just about adequate space for two occupants, with both headroom and leg-room being in short supply. Squeezing in a third passenger becomes quite uncomfortable in the Polo, there is substantial intrusion from the transmission tunnel as well, making things a total nightmare for the fifth passenger.

In complete contrast, there is enough space inside the Baleno's cabin, 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 glasshouses 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 also feels way more solidly put-together than the flimsy feeling Baleno, but then all of us have experienced how well the lightly built Esteems and Zens have outlasted the heavily built cars of their generation!

Polo's 294-litre boot, is one of the biggest boots of any hatchback in the country, with enough space to carry five people's weekend luggage. But then, 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 - 1510

Part V
Baleno RS vs Polo GT Comparison, the Final Verdict:
Before the Baleno RS was launched, people had high hopes from it. They expected three things from it. First that it would be an 'affordable' hot-hatch unlike the prohibitively expensive ones preceding it, like the Polo GT and Punto Abarth which fall on the wrong side of a 10 Lakh rupee price point. Second, that it would be a typical rice-rocket, not big on numbers, but still able to teach a thing or two about real-world performance, to the spoilt brats driving overpriced machines. And third, that it would provide everyday thrills to the driver, while still being an utterly dependable family car.

Sadly it delivers on none of those aspects. It seems like Maruti has completely lost the plot. For reasons which must've sounded sensible in the boardroom, they have launched it only in the top-end 'Alpha' trim, and that too at a heart-breaking price tag of well over 9 Lakh, on road. Someone needs to sit them down and explain to them, that us enthusiasts don't give a damn about electronic trinkets like Smart Keys and Engine Start Buttons. We would rather have it in 'Sigma' trim at a 6 Lakh Rs. price tag.

On top of that, it isn't an especially exciting car to drive either. We all know that Suzuki developed the three-pot engine as a fuel-efficient successor to their K12s and K14s, and even ARAI has given their 21.1 kmpl stamp of approval to it. But it was not made for performance, we can see it doing duty in a lot of future family cars from Maruti. But it doesn't do justice to the RS badge. But its not just the engine either, even the dynamics don't live up to the RS moniker. The rear-end of the Baleno feels floaty, given that whatever little weight it has is all concentrated over the front tyres, and if pushed too hard, especially in the wet, the car may slip into a spin.

For pure driving pleasure, the Polo GT TSI is in a different league altogether. The confidence inspiring road manners coupled with a lukewarm power-train, plus that deliciously smooth and responsive DSG 'box makes it one of the best cars for the money to enjoy around a curvy stretch of tarmac. And that is why the Baleno RS clearly loses out to the Polo GT in this comparison.

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