The Hyundai i20 has proved to be a very popular buy in the premium B+ hatchback segment, for it offers good performance, features and drivability. Even the Maruti Suzuki Baleno has dominated this segment for years now, but with a new entrant in the ring from Tata Motors, will these cars continue to rule the roost? We pit the radical, new Tata Altroz against Hyundai’s i20 to find out if it has what it takes to beat the successful Korean.
After the i20 received a facelift, it began to look a lot more matured in terms of its appearance. However, the update is quite subtle. The wide stance remains, and it’s one of those cars youngsters will love. It gets a reworked bumper, triangular shaped fog lamps and a mildly tweaked hexagonal grille. The side profile remains the same, but at the rear, the tail lights are new, and the number plate has been moved up on to the boot. The Altroz is the more striking of the two, with those swept-back headlights and a gloss black lining above the grille. The ‘shooting star beltline’ along the sides looks great too, and the flared wheel arches give the hatchback a muscular stance. The smoked-out LED tail lights at the rear, along with that split look gives it a sporty appeal.
The doors of the Tata Altroz open up to 90 degrees, which is really wide. Ingress and egress is a boon, and the dashboard is beautifully laid out, and we love the silver and black combination. The steering looks nice and sporty, and there’s a floating infotainment screen as well. The front seats could’ve been better cushioned, while the silver inserts around the cabin add to a premium feel. There is sufficient head and legroom at the front and rear. The 340-litre boot is perfectly sized for a car in this class. The i20 too, impresses with its quality and design. The dashboard isn’t as futuristic as the one on the Altroz, but the levels of fit and finish are good. There are some new buttons on the steering. The seat fabric used leaves nothing to complain about, and the seats are nice and comfy. Space here too, is never an issue. The i20 has the smaller boot.
The Altroz comes with features like keyless entry and start button, cruise control, ambient lighting, Harman system with smartphone connectivity including Android Auto and Apple Carplay, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps, rear AC vents and electrically adjustable and retractable ORVMs. In terms of safety, it gets cornering lamps, dual airbags, speed-sensing door locks and more. The i20, on the other hand, comes equipped with push button start, rear AC vents, climate control, six airbags and ABS among other features.
Performance & Handling
The Altroz is being sold with two engines: a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine that makes 85bhp and 113Nm of torque and a 1.5-litre, turbo four-cylinder diesel that produces 90bhp and 200Nm of torque. Both engines are synced to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The diesel clatter tends to seep into the cabin, but there are no vibrations. The clutch is light and the gearshifts are slick. The motor is at its best in the mid-range. As the revs rise, the engine gets coarse. It absorbs bumps well, but the thuds can be felt at lower speeds. The car stays planted at high speeds, but there is some body roll around corners. The response from the steering is impressive.
The Hyundai Elite i20 comes with two engine options: a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel engine, mated to a 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmission. The diesel car we’re driving makes 90bhp and 220Nm of torque. Compared to the Altroz, the i20’s engine is more refined and power is delivered in a linear manner. It isn’t the best of performers, however. Body roll is present on the i20 too, and the steering, unlike the Altroz’s, is rather lifeless. But you can barely hear anything from the outside.
The Altroz looks absolutely smashing, comes packed with features, drives well, and offers a very practical and spacious cabin. It is hard to ignore the presence of the Altroz in this segment, for it really does bring a lot to the table. The i20 is great all-rounder and has been around for a longer period, and with the latest updates, the car appears more premium than ever. The i20 wins the battle for it simply is the better product of the two.