Hyundai i20 N Line vs VW Polo TSI

The Hyundai i20 is the only car in the segment with a DCT. Wide open throttle pulls to the redline are fun, but not as much as that explosive 1.0 TSI under the Polo’s hood.

Hyundai i20 N Line

What you’ll like:

  • Aggressive styling with distinctive touches that set it apart from the garden-variety i20
  • Punchy 1.0 turbo-petrol motor with 118 BHP on tap
  • Firm yet compliant suspension coupled with a weighted steering + paddle shifters + fruity exhaust note that make the i20 N Line fun
  • Tasteful N Line-exclusive steering wheel, gear selector, red accents etc liven up the interior
  • Feature-rich equipment list includes cruise control, LED projectors, voice-activated sunroof, wireless charging & more
  • Spacious cabin with a 311 liter boot makes this a practical yet fun-to-drive car
  • Price premium over the regular i20 is totally justified by the additions & improvements
  • Safety kit = ESP, 6 airbags, rear disc brakes, Blue Link SOS, Hill Assist…

What you won’t:

  • Although well-priced in relation to the i20 Asta variant, it is still an expensive hatchback
  • Offering an iMT and not a proper MT on the i20 N Line is ridiculous!
  • 1.0L DCT variant shows initial lag. Even otherwise, it’s not as explosive as VW’s 1.0 Turbo
  • Some misses such as auto wipers, split folding rear seats…
  • You absolutely need a tyre upgrade. The OEM rubber gives up easily
  • This 3rd-gen i20’s styling can be polarizing, unlike the more neutral previous generation cars
  • Dual-clutch ATs have had a troubled reliability record in India
  • More of a warmed-up hatchback in terms of power & handling, rather than a “hot hatch” like an Abarth Punto

Review Link

Volkswagen Polo 1.0L TSI

What you’ll like:

  • Fast & fun to drive. Begs to be driven hard!
  • Brilliant 109 BHP 1.0L TSI engine is an enthusiast’s delight. Mated to a slick 6-speed MT
  • Mature suspension gives the Polo good road manners
  • Still looks great. Old, but timeless, clean & classy
  • Solidly built with an European feel that no other hatchback matches till today
  • Among the safest hatchbacks in India – GNCAP rating of 4 stars
  • Features such as cruise control, reach + rake steering, auto-wipers, driver armrest, tinted windows

What you won’t:

  • Yet another Polo variant & engine. Enough already (related thread)!!
  • 1.0 TSI’s refinement is poor at high rpm (it’s acceptable at regular revs)
  • An 11-year old model. The next-generation Polo is already on sale abroad
  • Limited rear bench legroom and a large floor hump. Your family won’t be pleased
  • VW’s sub-par dealership & service experiences
  • Many missing features: keyless-entry-go, reversing camera, oldschool MID, boot light, split rear seat, projector / LED headlamps, basic 4-speaker ICE

Review Link

Here’s what BHPian GTO had to say on the matter:

Tough choice between the i20 N Line and the Polo TSI, but I would go for the i20 N Line as it’ll be a much nicer car to live with on a daily basis (contemporary, space, equipment, more family friendly etc.). But the Polo is a close 2nd. Like, very close. It has many advantages = a turbo-petrol that is far more enthusiastic in nature (lives for the redline), a torque-converter AT that might have better long-term reliability (but VW, so…), superior low end (i20 DCT has lag) and a GNCAP rating of 4 stars (i20 is untested & I’m not too optimistic seeing group cars like the Seltos).

The other quick hatchback is the Figo 1.5 Diesel and some dealers might have old stock lying around at killer prices. But with Ford’s exit and its BS6 DPF issues, no way can I recommend it to anyone, even at a heavy discount. The Figo 1.5L TDCi to buy was the BS4, not this one.

Would’ve loved to include the Altroz here as it has truly impressive expressway manners. Very solid & mature at 100+ kmph. Also the best looking by a mile. But Tata gave its engines a lower state of tune (compared to the Nexon) and a 0 – 100 of 12.6 to 13 seconds (tested by others) is hardly anything to write home about.

For those on a lower budget, the quick hatch you can consider is the Grand i10 Nios 1.0 Turbo. Trust me, it’ll leave you grinning. Very quick, very chuckable. I’m a big fan of quick + cheap + small.

Here’s what BHPian Guna had to say on the matter:

Did not vote either of them.

I had taken a short test drive on the Polo TSI (1.0L) and was not impressed with the refinement of the engine (typical of 3 cylinder unit perhaps) and the lack of response at the low revs.
Recently I went to check a pre-owned Polo GT (1.2 L) and on the way got to briefly check out the i20 N Line as well.

I found the steering of the i20 to be very hard even at low speeds. It requires some effort to move it from the ‘straight ahead’ position and this makes it difficult to do fine steering corrections when you are driving straight IMO.

Also the car was dead at low revs and had sudden rush of power after certain point.

Short test drive of the used Polo GT (1.2) was a different story altogether. Steering had the right amount of weight, there was no perceptible lag, nor the unexpected rush and I liked the linear nature.

VW, if you are listening, bring the Polo GT+ with 1.5L evo engine, rear camera, 6 airbags etc and this can find buyers even at 15 L on-road.

Here’s what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

This is truly a hard choice. The Polo is annoyingly ancient looking and just not spacious enough. However, if I ever dive into this segment I know it’ll be a second car so I’d take the space compromise for the sheer dynamic and driving superiority of the Polo – the fact that I can have the VW with TC peace of mind is an added bonus.

If hypothetically its an only car, I’d pick the more practical and modern looking i20 N Line without much disappointment – such is the level to which modern day Hyundais have matured.

For the purpose of the poll, I voted Polo since I know it’ll unlikely be the only car in my garage.

PS: Personally, despite it being dated, from an external design standpoint, I find the classic natural lines of the Polo much more appealing than the overstyled “please look at me – I dressed up for you!” look of the i20.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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