The Indian auto market is surely maturing as the years go by. At one time, most buyers would not consider buying a premium hatchback due to its cost, but today, there are many different options. These include the Maruti Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Honda Brio and others. The market of hatchbacks is set to become hotter, with the introduction of models such as Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, Fiat Punto Abarth and Etios Liva 1.5 Sportivo.
On the exterior, the Polo GT does not have any sporty decals or body kit, as would normally be associated with a sporty hatchback. A few changes that have been implemented are new alloy wheels, GT badges on the front grille, C-pillar and a new rear spoiler. Under the hood, it is powered by a 4-cylinder direct injection 1.2 litre petrol engine. After driving this vehicle, many automotive experts have felt that this vehicle has the capability to set enthusiastic motoring benchmarks, similar to those set by the Maruti Swift. 104 bhp of highest power is generated by this vehicle, along with a peak torque of 170 Nm. It is the first time a turbocharged engine has been fitted in a hatchback, with terrific results.
In addition, the TSI also delivers a fuel efficiency of 18 kmpl, as claimed by ARAI. The engine is mated to a 7-speed DSG gearbox, which is a dual clutch automatic transmission. Slotting the leather wrapped gear stick into 'D' mode permits easy driving in the city, while a responsive 'S' mode is useful for long drives. A manual mode has also been provided, which allow drivers to change gears. Ride quality is also impressive for a vehicle of this category and interiors are very comfortable.
Another sporty hatchback which could get many a man to become weak in his knees would have to be the Fiat Punto Abarth. A monstrous 180 bhp would be produced by a 1.4 litre Turbojet petrol engine, which could propel this car from 0-100 kmph in just 7.5 seconds. It is also expected to have an advanced feature known as Torque Transfer Control. The Punto Abarth would be driven by a 6-speed manual transmission. Test mules of this vehicle have been spotted in various parts of the country. Reportedly, Fiat India has big expansion plans in store this year, under which a launch of the Punto Abarth could be on the cards soon. However, it s not certain whether this vehicle would be available as a Completely Built Unit (CBU) or a Completely Knocked Down (CKD) version.
Sometime back, a sporty version of the Toyota Etios Liva was launched, which only had cosmetic changes. This time around, the new Liva TRD Sportivo does not include only outside changes, but a different power-mill as well. Toyota has planted the 1.5 litre petrol motor of the Etios sedan in this vehicle, which now generates a power of 89 bhp. The idea is to make the Liva an exciting buy, as the car would now have an exciting power-to-weight ratio of 96.2 bhp per tonne, due to its 925 kg kerb weight. In terms of performance, this translates into a 0-100 kmph dash in 11.88 seconds. Low end torque in this vehicle is also quite impressive.
On paper, it seems that the Punto Abarth is clearly the most powerful hatch among the above, It remains to be seen how well Fiat India markets its new products. Even the Volkswagen Polo TSI GT clearly shows a coming-of-age period for hatchbacks offered in the country.