Back in 2011, Volkswagen caused quite a stir-up in the market when they launched their most affordable car for India, the infamous Polo. 7 years down the line, the Polo has made quite a lot of enemies. The most recent competitor challenging its claim is the Maruti Suzuki Baleno. We all know the classic Baleno sedan which was a plain and humble family sedan. However, in its latest reincarnation, it has taken birth as a striking-looking hatchback which looks very eye-catchy. It also boasts of some generous kit on the inside which has been the Polo’s forte for a long time. In this article, we will be pitching both these cars head to head and comparing their intricate qualities. So let’s commence with our Polo vs Baleno hatchback face-off.
The Maruti Suzuki Baleno comes with two different engines, a 1.2-litre petrol, and a 1.3-litre diesel. The diesel engine is their signature DDiS 190 engine which is used in several other Maruti Suzuki cars as well. The Volkswagen Polo, on the other hand, comes with a total of 4 engine options. It gets a standard 1.0-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. Apart from that, there are also two high-performance GT model engines. The Polo GT comes with a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel both of which pack a lot of punch. As for the gearbox variants, both cars come with a conventional 5-speed manual. The Baleno gets a CVT type automatic while the Polo comes with a top-notch DSG automatic.
Polo vs Baleno: Engine Performance
Following the industry’s trend of downsizing engines, the Volkswagen Polo lost both of its original 1.2 and 1.6 engines. It now comes with a much smaller 1.0-litre engine that prioritizes on fuel economy. The previous 1.2-litre Polo was already pretty lacklustre in terms of performance. With the downgrade to 1.0-litre , it’s become even more lacklustre. In comparison, the Baleno’s peppy 1.2-litre with its lighter kerb weight feels much more agile and punchy. The Polo GT, however, is in a totally different league of performance. The Baleno can’t even dream of coming close to the outright performance of the GT.
Moving to the Diesel variants, the Baleno is sufficiently equipped to handle city driving duties. On the highways, it’s only so-so. The Volkswagen Polo’s 1.5 diesel feels like a much more wholesome package in comparison. It packs more bhp than the Baleno but what really counts is the 40Nm torque advantage. Again the Polo GT Diesel shines even more with its 108bhp and stonking 250 Nm of torque. The acceleration simply plants a smile on your face once you get into the sweet spot.
Polo vs Baleno: Gearbox Comparison
Both the Baleno and the Polo come with a 5-speed manual transmission. The automatic mechanisms are however vastly different on both. The Polo gets Volkswagen’s sublime DSG gearbox while the Baleno comes with a more conventional CVT. Be it manual or automatic, the Polo’s gearbox is just supreme. The Baleno actually has a very decent manual mated to a lightweight clutch. However, the Volkswagen Polo is equipped with practically the best gearbox in the segment. German engineering is very difficult to match and it is very apparent in this case. As for the automatics, the Polo’s 7-Speed DSG is practically good enough to rival D-segment sedans. It is superior to the Baleno’s CVT by a really huge margin.
Polo vs Baleno: Dimensions
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
175/70 R14, 185/60 R15 195/55 R16
185/65 R15, 195/55 R16
1015 to 1273 kg
865 to 985 Kg
In the dimensions round, this is going to be another case of one car dominating the other completely. Here, in this comparison, the Baleno is the dominant vehicle. In terms of outright space it is significantly ahead of the Polo with significantly more length, width and height. As for tyre size, both offer 185 and 195 section rubber as options. The base variants of the Polo sadly get thinner 175 section while the Baleno gets 185mm as the smallest size. The Polo is better on the wheelbase front where it is lesser than the Baleno by 50mm giving it more manoeuvrability. The Baleno wins in every other aspect with more ground clearance, a bigger boot and kerb weight. Even the heaviest Baleno is a good 50kg lighter than the lightest Polo.
Polo vs Baleno: Features and Looks
Volkswagen Polo Equipment and Appearance:
The Volkswagen Polo was launched way back in 2011 but got a very recent facelift earlier this year. It boasts of the following equipment in its top trim:
Black Finish Dual-Beam Headlamps
Body-Coloured Bumpers and ORVMs with Integrated Turn Signals
Heat Insulating Glass Windscreen
Chrome Air Dam Detailing
Foldable Rear Door Grab Handle with Coat Hook
Brushed Aluminium Finish on Centre Console
Ambient Lights with Theatre Dimming Effect
Chrome Interior Accents
Leather Wrapped Flat Bottom Steering Wheel with Chrome Accents
Touchscreen Infotainment System with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and App Connect
USB, Aux-in, SD Card Slot
Music System with 4 Speakers
Phonebook Sync and SMS Viewer
Anti-Pinch Power Windows
High-Mounted Stop Lamp
Front and Rear Fog Lamps
Safety Net Comprising of Dual Front Airbags, ABS, Engine Immobiliser and Anti Glare Rear View Mirrors
The Polo has been in the market for quite a while now. 7 years ago it was indeed a revelation as it was a true German quality product which was affordably priced to suit a large audience. The current Polo retains most of the aesthetics as the original. The silhouette and the exterior detailing is almost entirely the same. Despite being 7 years old, the Polo still looks quite elegant on the road. The rock solid German build is still quite appreciable even after lacking the outright funky appeal of a lot of its competitors. Volkswagen has given the Polo a very thorough overall from the inside to keep pace with the competition. The interiors are absolutely top-notch balancing the right amount of sophistication with modern equipment. The interior quality is so good you will have a really hard time believing you’re sitting in a B-segment hatchback.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno Equipment and Appearance:
The brand new Baleno was launched on October 2015. It packs the following features in its top trim:
Chrome Coated Door Handles
Body Coloured Front Bumper and Indicator-Integrated ORVMs
Minimal Front Grille with Chrome Accents
Integrated Rear Spoiler
Projector Headlamps with DRL Strips
Rear Combination LED Lamps
Metal Accents on Door Handles and Parking Brake Lever
Illuminated Glove Box, Luggage Room and Front Footwell
Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
Multi-Information Speedometer Display with Colour TFT
SmartPlay 7-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System with Navigation
Smartphone Remote Control with Voice Navigation
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Integration
Remote Keyless Entry with Push Button Start/Stop
Front and Rear Accessory Socket
Reverse Parking Sensors with Camera
Follow Me Home/ Lead to Vehicle Headlamps
Safety Net Comprising of ABS, EBD, Dual Airbags, Suzuki TECT Construction, ISOFIX Child Seat Anchors and Auto-Dimming IRVMs
The Baleno returns from its grave in a brand new reincarnation. The new Baleno is a hatchback unlike the original and quite a good looking one too! It boasts of some really contemporary styling with inspiration from the previous generation Swift in certain areas. Maruti has worked quite smartly with the design and has imparted the Baleno with some neat detailing. The Baleno oozes character when viewed from any angle. Cabin materials are of good quality and are all in all there is really nothing to complain about here. The interior layout is inspired by the Ciaz and looks quite good. It’s nothing out of the box but fits well with the other cars of today. Quality of materials used is also up to the mark.
Dimensions: The Baleno is a clear winner in the dimensions round. It’s better than the Polo in literally every aspect. The Polo is only ahead in terms of wheelbase. The Baleno is longer, wider, taller and despite all of these is lighter by a huge margin.
Performance: The Polo’s new downsized petrol engine has really impacted its already lacklustre performance. The Baleno’s peppy petrol with its light kerb weight performs much better. But even here, the Polo GT Petrol is a total beast which the Baleno doesn’t even come close too. The Polo’s diesel variant is also far better than the Baleno’s. Even in terms of the gearbox, the Polo reigns superior. This round goes to the Polo.
Fuel Efficiency and Range: The Baleno is manufactured by Maruti Suzuki so it is impossible to beat in terms of fuel efficiency. The same is the case here. The Polo offers much better range courtesy its larger 45-litre fuel tank. This round is a draw.
Features and Equipment: The Baleno is packed with slightly more equipment and features than the Polo and there is no denying that. However, the Polo gets all the necessities but misses out only on a few compared to the Baleno. What really has to be considered here is the rock-solid build quality of the Polo, be it the inside or outside. You actually feel pampered when you get into it which is why it wins this round.
Price: The Polo is more expensive than the Baleno by Rs.17000 in its base trim. Keeping aside the monstrous GT version, the Polo is more expensive than the Baleno by a maximum of Rs.40000. While the Baleno is cheaper no doubt, we must also keep in mind the astonishingly amazing build quality of the Polo, which justifies the added expensive quite reasonably. This round is also a draw.
Final Verdict: This has indeed turned out to be quite a surprising result in the end. The Baleno is a much newer car compared to the Polo which has been in the market for over 7 years. Naturally many of us would expect the Baleno to win this comparison without much struggle but the actual results are quite different. In this comparison, the Baleno wins in only one out of the 5 criterion. Two rounds end in a draw and the Polo wins in two. Despite being a brand new car, the Baleno wasn’t quite able to match the Polo’s bullet-proof performance and build quality. So, in a surprising turn of events, the winner of this Polo vs Baleno comparison is the Volkswagen Polo.