In years gone past, this would have been declared a no contest even before the bell rang. Volkswagen has always been known for solid, reliable cars with high safety ratings, that just work, while Hyundai focused on the budget-friendly end of the market, while still reliable, reinforced by their fantastic five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Hyundai i20 of old may have been affordable and practical, but the Polo would be the preferred choice in pretty much any category except price.
But this is 2019, and Hyundai has since completely rebranded itself to offer a more refined and high-end offering in line with its German competitor. So how do the supermini models offered by each car maker compare, and which should we consider when on the market for a contract hire or purchase?
Lengthwise, both cars are roughly the same at just over four metres and it seems that both of these cars are following the modern trend of elongating over time, mostly to give rear passengers more space in order to avoid the dreaded tag of ‘nice up front, small in the back’. The VW, however, just feels a bit more spacious inside and boot space is 351 litres on the Polo as compared to 326 litres for the i20. Both will take five adults fairly comfortably although the Polo slightly edges it when it comes to three passengers sitting comfortably abreast in the rear seats.
You can choose from two petrol engines in the case of the Hyundai i20, a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 75 or 84 PS depending on the model and a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine which comes with 100 or 120 PS which is plenty power for this compact hatch. You pay a lot more for the turbo version, however (about £5k more) the 120PS turbo will go from 0-62 mph in just over 10 seconds with about 56 mpg expelling 118g/km of CO2 emissions while the cheaper 1.2-litre takes 13.6 seconds with CO2 emissions of 130g/km and it does around 50 mpg.
Contrast this with the new VW Polo where there is massive differentiation in the engines available. At one end of the scale is a carthorse 1.0-litre normally aspirated petrol with only 66 PS that takes 15.5 slow seconds to get from 0-62 mph but can get as much as 60 mpg in the economy stakes and emits around 110g/km of CO2 emissions. At the other end of the spectrum is the 2.0-litre petrol Polo TSI GTI which rockets from 0-62 in 6.7 seconds and emitting around 134g/km of CO2 emissions. The Polo also has some nicely balanced 1.6-litre diesel engines which aren’t practically fast in the 11 to 13 seconds range but do very well when it comes to emissions with less than 100g/km CO2 and boast economy figures of around 75 mpg.
The fairest comparison is probably the 1.0-litre petrol TSI 95 Polo which is turbo-ed up like some of the Hyundai i20 engines and delivers around 96 PS, does the 0-62 in 10.8 seconds with 104g/km of CO2 emissions and around 61 mpg for combined driving and slightly (very slightly) edging the Hyundai i20 in the process.
It’s not a massive assumption to think that Hyundai took a look at the famously understated, functional and middle-class Polo and used it as an inspiration for its own new trims. The Volkswagen Polo has had many years and many generations of perfecting the balance between form and function however so it’s no surprise that the interior of the Polo looks and feels just that bit more solid and refined.
The i20 has four trims ranging from the entry-level S Connect through the SE, Premium Nav and Premium SE Nav and its more about the features in the Hyundai i20 rather than the flair with the top of the range coming with 16-inch alloys, a fair amount of leather, climate control, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a seven-inch touchscreen a decent sound system and smartphone connectivity.
The Hyundai i20 clearly does not lack in features, but let’s compare it to the Volkswagen. The Polo has five trims to choose from, specifically the entry-level S, the SE, the Beats, the R line and the range-topping SEL” Focusing on the SEL trim, it has a truly huge selection of standard features including forward collision warning, pedestrian monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, 16-inch alloys and a cracking new infotainment system.
One key area to mention is the respective warranties. Hyundai is well known for its five-year, unlimited warranty which is a strong selling point for the i20, while the Polo gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty so the South Korean is the clear winner here, offering greater peace of mind during the owning process.
It’s interesting that the top of the range Hyundai i20 ( a 1.0-petrol Gdi 120PS manual) has a list price on their website (at the time of writing) of £18,645 while the top of the range Volkswagen Polo manual SEL 1.0-litre TSI 115 PS has a price of £18,695. Given how well Volkswagens hold their value we are sorry to say that there really is only one winner when comparing each respective top of the range models for value, as re-sale value is a key consideration when buying or leasing a car through contract hire, PCP or any other finance agreement as this lowers monthly payments for the car.
Both models are feature packed and geared towards driver comforts, while simultaneously offering great practicality. And while the Polo will continue to be immensely popular thanks to the larger variety of engines and trims, drivers of the Hyundai i20 will travel down the UK’s roads with a smile on their faces that their chosen vehicle presents excellent value for money.
Hippo Leasing has both new and used car available for lease, including lease deals for the Hyundai i20 and the VW Polo. Simply call us on 01254 956 666 or email us at [email protected] for personal service and a great deal on a new or used Hyundai i20 or Volkswagen Polo.