First impression – Fiat Punto has always been known for its distinctive and joyful looks and 2014 Fiat Punto EVO just elevates the feeling. New colours jazz up the show; redesigned features step up its style.
Volkswagen Polo was a classy and elegant hatchback, facelift of which highlights the same adjectives. There is no dramatic change between older and 2014 Volkswagen Polo in terms of external appearance, as compared to the evolution of Fiat Punto, but just like the latter, original essence of Polo is ensured and enhanced.
Chic looking Punto EVO is best left untouched, meaning it is hard to imagine how well it will turn out if you try accessorising. But Polo is versatile; take the theme of Polo R Cup cars for instance, adding bumper skirts, a spoiler, hood scoops and some racy decals to begin with, you get an intensely sporty hatchback. We have to wait and see if someone pulls of similar work on Fiat Punto EVO successfully.
Exteriors – Fiat Punto EVO comes with single halogen lamp per headlamp unit, whereas new Polo has one for low and another for high beam. In latter car, both lights are lit when you switch to high, which should illuminate the road better than Punto’s unit. Fog lamps of both cars are redesigned from their earlier models. Neither Punto nor Polo sports Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). Chrome treatment on front fascia is a bit loud on Punto EVO, whereas in Polo it is subtle.
Comparing side profiles of Punto and Polo, you will notice chrome treatment on Punto’s door handles while Polo has completely body coloured ones. Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs) of Fiat Punto have integrated turn indicators but Volkswagen Polo’s is plain and carries traditional button lights on front fender. Alloy wheels of VW Polo contain thick and thin streaks of multiple spokes while Punto EVO’s spokes are curvy in each plane. Roofline is parabolic on Punto and less sloping on Polo. Body lines on doors and embossed wheel arches are somewhat similar on both cars.
Rear facade of 2014 Volkswagen Polo is nearly identical to earlier model. Minor changes in rear bumper, by way of redesigned number plate recess and new reflector lights, and redesigned insides of tail lamp finish the chapter. Fiat Punto EVO gets noticeable change in tail lights, with new LED red lamp and clear lenses at centre. Lower bumper lights get fog lamp on right and reverse light on left, surrounded and connected by chrome trims. Both cars have not so noticeable roof lip spoilers.
Body colours of Fiat Punto EVO include Exotica Red, Glitterati Gold, Tuscan Wine, Hip Hop Black, Magnesio Grey, Minimal Grey and Vocal White. 2014 VW Polo comes in Copper Orange, Flash Red, Night Blue, Carbon Steel, Reflex Silver and Candy White.
Interiors – Variants Fiat Punto EVO like Active, Dynamic and Emotion powered by 76 PS diesel engine get dual tone interiors whereas top of line Sports variant with 90 HP motor gets compulsory full black shade in cabin. Volkswagen Polo gets darker beige (compared to old Polo) on black interiors. This includes dashboard, door panels, seat upholstery and the like.
Centre console equipment on Volkswagen Polo get silver coloured surrounds which may or may not appeal to everybody. Use of piano black decors, which goes around these days, are pretty much limited to steering wheel spokes only, which by the way is very smart.
Punto EVO’s steering wheel is traditional, but has marginally better feel while holding / turning. Audio control, telephone and voice command buttons on both steering wheels are ergonomic and tactile. Centre console of new Fiat Punto, copy pasted from 2014 Fiat Linea, looks fashionable, especially in piano black finish. Small utility box above AC vents is very handy.
Plastic quality, texture and finish in Fiat Punto EVO are superior to Volkswagen Polo’s. So does the feel of robustness of Punto’s panels and items that are handled regularly.
Features are somewhat similar in both cars, but lack of music playback via bluetooth connectivity to smartphones is a big bummer in Fiat Punto EVO. Both cars get dual airbags (for driver & front passenger) and ABS with EBD for safety.
Rear seat comfort is quite better in Fiat Punto EVO, but both cars lack required amount of thigh support. Boot volume of 280 litres is identical in both hatchbacks.
Engine – Volkswagen launched Polo facelift primarily to get their new 1.5 litre TDI diesel engine out on road, which replaces older 3 cylinder 1.2 litre unit. In September 2014, same engine will be seen in Polo GT TDI variant with higher state of tune.
New 4 cylinder 1.5 litre TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) diesel engine in Polo produces 90 PS max. power @ 4,200 rpm and 230 Nm peak torque @ 1,500 – 2,500 rpm.
Fiat Punto EVO gets 1.3 litre MultiJet, in two tunes, 92.72 PS at 4,000 rpm & 209 Nm at 2,000 rpm and 76 PS at 4,000 rpm & 197 Nm at 1,750 rpm. Since we drove only 90 HP Sports variant, and fortunately Polo featuring 90 PS only, we will be comparing performance of these two cars below.
Performance – Unfortunately, the car that has been scoring mostly higher in all other aspects, did not impress in what matters a lot for many. It is truly surprising to see the national engine of India not performing energetically on a car produced by the same manufacturer, especially 90 HP variant. And the case is not new either; earlier model also faced same critical response.
Whereas, with a new engine producing similar power and torque figures, Volkswagen Polo manages to satisfy an enthusiasts’s expectations. Engine is peppy and turbo lag is not loudly pronounced. Free revving nature of Volkswagen Polo’s 1.5L TDI diesel engine helps crack city traffic and long drive scenes with a load of fun.
Sadly, Fiat Punto EVO is not bubbly when it comes to throttle response. Adding to the not so swift nature of Punto, there is immense turbo lag until about 2,000 rpm that makes it not-an-ideal city car. Engine becomes responsive only around 3,000 rpm and above, which is appreciable. With high range power delivery, highway cruising is enjoyable, but overtaking manoeuvres would require smart gear work.
Speaking of which, shift feel is not Punto’s forte either. Although gear changes happen precisely, rubbery feel does not convince the driver that he has really slotted the lever in place. All brio in Fiat Punto is left only for show due to lack of zest in performance.
Steering – Old school hydraulic power assisted steering system in Fiat Punto EVO establishes better connection between the driver and road, than the modern day Electronic Power Steering (EPS) in Volkswagen Polo.
Feel of quite natural heaviness of steering and feedback from road, during bumpy rides as well as high speed choreographing, is sheer driving pleasure offered by most hydraulic power steering, and Fiat Punto EVO’s is no exception. Exercising lighter EPS with induced speed sensitive tightness of Volkswagen Polo is not as fun, but surely provides confidence while handling.
Handling – Both cars are known to hug the road tight and dance according to driver’s directions. Speaking statistics, Punto EVO Sports variant is 50 kg heavier, which is well pronounced as you get into the car and start driving, and gets wider tires, than VW Polo. Yet both cars feel almost as planted on the road as other, and neither of them fail to impress while tackling any situation. Stability at high speeds are splendid on both cars. Purely because of Hydraulic power steering, we rank Punto higher by a decimal value.
Ride Quality – This is where the Italian and the German car again fight an inconclusive battle. Both machines are almost equally good at ironing out road irregularities, and offer comfortable travel experience for all occupants. With 20 mm more ground clearance on Punto EVO, it is arguably better when taking it off road.
Braking – Probably because Punto isn’t scintillating when it comes to pick up and performance, it is equipped with softer brakes. Volkswagen Polo has better braking, offering just the right amount of bite for accurate control of the same.
Verdict – Considering all the upgrades new Fiat Punto EVO has received, it could be priced almost similar to or more than its German rival. Until price of Punto is announced, that is until it is launched (in first week of August 2014), it is hard to put a medal on one of the two. Mileage of both cars are way too close to consider that as a factor for competition. If you are a die hard lover of performance, you might want to wait for VW Polo GT TDI to show up in showrooms.
Why would you buy Fiat Punto EVO 90 HP:
Why would you buy Volkswagen Polo 1.5 TDI:
Service & Maintenance
Techspecs comparison of Polo vs Punto
Further Read –