The affordable hot hatch segment in India is still in its infancy stage and many carmakers now taking the segment serious after increased interest from the public. German carmaker Volkswagen is the one who took the first by bringing the Polo GT TSI and then Maruti Suzuki followed the suit with the Baleno RS. The latest to join the club is Tata Motors with the Tiago JTP.
Being the new kid on the block, Tata Motors' Tiago JTP definitely grabs attention than Baleno RS and Polo GT TSI. However, after the initial excitement buying the Tiago JTP over the Baleno RS and Polo GTI is a sensible option? Let's take a deep dive to know more about these three hot hatches.
Tiago JTP vs Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI – Engine
The most important aspect of a hot hatch should be its engine and let's start with that. Tata Tiago JTP is powered by a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that develops 112.4bhp and 150Nm of torque. The Baleno RS gets power from a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder BoosterJet turbo-petrol engine which is tuned to churn out 100bhp and 150Nm of torque. Meanwhile, Volkswagen Polo GT TSI's heart is a 1.2 TSI four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine developing 104bhp and 175Nm of torque.
Tata Tiago JTP is clearly the winner here in terms of sheer output and it has an 8.4bhp advantage over the next best rival. However, the Polo GTI boasts off the four-cylinder engine and it also produces more torque than its rivals.
Tiago JTP vs Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI – Transmission
Hot hatches are driver's cars and hence Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors have opted to go for 5-speed manual transmission. This will allow quick upshifting and downshifting according to the driver's style. Meanwhile, the Polo GT TSI is equipped with 7-speed DSG. Even though it is an automatic transmission, the DSG unit is quick to respond for inputs and that makes it more aspirational.
Tiago JTP vs Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI - Exterior
A hot hatch should be more expressive. It should not only pack power under the hood but also flaunt it flashily on the exterior and interior. In that case, Tata Tiago JTP wins the battle. The Tiago JTP gets a new and large black coloured grill, smoked projector headlamps and bonnet scoop. The 15-inch diamond cut alloy wheels and side skirts will add muscle to the side profile while twin chrome exhaust tips extend the sporty theme to the rear.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS comes with a less sporty design. The Nexa car has got tweaked front and rear bumpers, RS badge at the rear and the stock alloy wheels have been painted in black. That seems to be not expressive enough while Volkswagen GT TSI looks exactly the same as stock Polo model albeit GT badge at front and rear as well as some GT TSI stickers on the C-pillars.
Tiago JTP vs Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI – Interior
The story is no different inside the cabin. Tata Motors has spruced up the stock interior with sporty accents on AC vents, premium leather-wrapped steering with contrast red stitching and performance aluminium pedals. The Baleno RS's interior looks similar to the one on the standard version. Being the top-spec model, the Baleno RS boasts of climate control, touchscreen infotainment system, dual front airbags, colour TFT display for the instrument panel and others.
The Polo GT TSI also uses the interior borrowed from the regular Polo variant. In addition to features offered with the Baleno RS, the Polo GT TSI also gets cruise control.
Tiago JTP vs Baleno RS vs Polo GT TSI- price
Tata Tiago JTP is the most affordable hot hatch among the three with a price tag of Rs 6.39 lakh. Maruti Suzuki retails the Baleno RS at Rs 8.47 lakh while Volkswagen Polo GT TSI costs Rs 9.39 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi)
The bottom line
Tata Tiago JTP clearly turns out to be the winner in the three-way battle. It has the most powerful engine (the whole point of a hot hatch), expressive styling and an attractive price that undercuts all of its rivals. The move clearly pokes other carmakers to buckle up for the performance hot hatchback game.
Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is for those who wants to be subtle in design but a fun to drive machine. It is expensive but it offers premium features like cruise control and 7-speed DSG. The Baleno RS is definitely a fine choice in between. However, it packs least powerful engine among the three and that's a big turn off for the target audience.