Comparison review: Hatches go head to head
In a battle of hatchbacks, we pit Honda’s Jazz vs Maruti Suzuki’s Baleno vs Hyundai’s i20 to see which one is better.
Out of these three hatchbacks, the Honda’s Jazz is the most recent to be introduced in the Indian market. The new version of this car has subtle design changes as compared with its previous model. Few key elements, such as a thick signature grille bar, merge into the angular headlamps, to give the Jazz a stylish look. Its strong side character line starts from the front door and merges down all the way into the tail lamps, giving the impression of the hatchback being longer in length. Towards the rear, it looks more appealing, thanks to the LED wing light clusters. The overall design looks nice and practical. Additionally, the ‘magic seats’, in which the back seats do not just fold down, they can flip up too, are offered only in the top variant.
On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki Baleno’s design is curvaceous, which gives it a striking look. The V-shaped front grille, along with the stylish swept-back projector headlamps and daytime-running lights, make the car more appealing. The hatchback’s side profile with its flared wheels arches, along with the sharp shoulder line running right across from the front to the rear, gives it a distinctive look. While at the rear, its thick chrome strip connected via tail-lamp clusters on either side, provides it with a decent look.
As for the Hyundai i20, the presence of a hexagonal grille, along with swept-back headlamps (which features projector lamps and LED daytime running lamps) with styled bumper comprising of fog lamps and a functional air duct, instantly catch one’s attention. The rear, for that matter, looks good too, with wraparound tail lamps and newly styled bumper with a thick black strip running across giving the car a more sporty character.
On the inside, the black and beige combination, along with bigger windows, makes the cabin of the Honda Jazz feel more spacious and airy. The 6.2-inch touchscreen (offered in the top end variant only) is well integrated into the center console, which is surrounded via piano black finish that looks quite premium. Furthermore, the Jazz comes loaded with features such as climate control, start/stop button, keyless entry, parking sensors with reverse camera, to name a few. The front and rear are really comfortable, with three people at the back fitting in with ease. This hatchback has a boot space of 354 litres, which is the best in the segment.
As we step inside the Baleno, the interior feels very classy. The all-black interior works well and adds a sporty profile to this hatchback. The 7-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard looks top-end too. As for the comfort factor, the front and rear seats are well-cushioned, thereby providing adequate amount of under-thigh support. Additionally, there is lot of space for those small nick-nacks. The Baleno offers 339 litres of boot space.
Meanwhile, the Hyundai i20 provides a dual tone (black and bridge) dashboard. In fact, we really liked the quality of plastics, which makes the cabin appear upmarket. The 7-inch touchscreen offers facilities such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto, which work seamlessly, depending upon the phone that you have. More than the seats up-front, we really like the ones towards the rear as they are much more comfortable with great under-thigh support. The car’s rear AC vent comes in handy for keeping the passengers comfortable while on the move.
In this comparative analysis, we managed to get our hands on the diesel variants of these three hatchbacks too. Let us first begin with the Honda Jazz, which happens to feature the tried and tested 1.5-litre four-cylinder oil mill. Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the engine feels refined as it pulls strongly and effortlessly when required. It offers a good ride quality as the suspension is able to soak in the potholes and broken roads with utter ease.
On the other hand, Maruti Baleno offers a smaller 1.3 litre diesel engine, which is not new to the market. Being the tried and tested diesel mill, the unit does a pretty good job in offering refinement and performance. We felt that the gearbox provided smooth shifts and was quick to engage. The suspension adapts well to Indian road conditions, thereby offering a smooth ride over potholes and broken roads. The five speed transmission on board is so effortless that be it within the city or the open highway, the Baleno is comfortable to drive. Its steering wheel is well-balanced and it is a breeze to even drive around corners.
As for the i20, it features a 1.4 litre diesel engine, which feels powerful as the moment you put your foot down on the accelerator, the car will be quick to respond. Its six-speed transmission offers perfect shifts. We were really impressed with its overtaking abilities, both in the city and on the open highway. The ride quality is decent and the car cushions all the bad potholes with ease.
Considering that Honda Car India took time to launch the new Jazz, one wonders if they could have done a bit more to improve the quality of plastics on this hatchback. They seem a bit downgraded when compared with the competition. There is a bit of body roll around corners, especially during high speeds. The steering also has some lag and feels heavy at low speeds.
Similarly, in the Baleno, the plastic quality on the door does not feel upmarket. The seat fabric does not feel premium either.
Talking about the Hyundai i20, the missing auto dimming IRVM (Inside Rear View Mirror) does disappoint us, especially when your expectations are high regarding the gadgets in the car.
On the go, the Honda Jazz’s engine, whether at low or high speed, generates much sound, resulting in a noisy cabin. The air-conditioning vents at the rear seem missing although they are present in the competitors.
The rear seats in the Baleno are best suited for two passengers only as the centre-transmission tunnel takes a lot of space.
As for the shortcomings in the Hyundai i20, its engine is a bit noisy, but not as noisy as the jazz.
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