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VW Polo 66TSI vs Honda Jazz VTi


City cars mean different things to different buyers, typified by the stylish Polo and the practical Jazz. James Stanford adjudicates

value

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

$16,290

The Polo is not the cheapest car in the baby class, starting off at $16,290. Whether it is good value or not depends how much emphasis you place on refinement and a VW badge. The Polo doesn’t have as much gear as the base Jazz. It gets cruise control, five-inch colour touchscreen and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. VW has had issues with quality (our car had a strange engine rattle). Warranty is three years/unlimited km.

Honda Jazz VTi

$14,990

The Jazz is a clear winner when it comes on this score. It is cheaper and also has more equipment. Honda made the brave call to fit a reversing camera as standard on all Jazz models. It also gets LED projector headlights (plus rear LEDs), larger seven-inch colour touchscreen, fold-flat rear seats and cruise control. It also has a more powerful engine than the VW but the warranty is not quite as generous; three years/100,000km.

design

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

The current VW design is ho-hum and while the Polo looks tidy, with clean lines and no surprises, it is also bland and instantly forgettable. The interior follows the same course but is a pleasant enough place to be. It is not as spacious as the Jazz (or Mazda2 or Ford Fiesta), especially in the rear.

Honda Jazz VTi

If the Polo designers didn’t do enough, the Jazz stylists probably went a little too far. The car looks a little overdone, with some fiddly bits that spoil the design. It has a more modern vibe, inside and out, but is less refined. It is, however, remarkably space efficient. The interior is cavernous and outward vision is fantastic. Whoever designed the seats, which can be folded many different ways, deserves a medal.

technology

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

The entry level Polo is the 66TSI, making just 66kW from its 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder, yet it feels a bit perkier than that. It is more advanced than the engine in the Jazz and is more efficient (4.8L/100km). A five-speed manual is standard, while a seven-speed DSG auto can be optioned. A more potent 88kW powers the pricier 88TSI Comfortline model.

Honda Jazz VTi

There is a less sophisticated engine under the bonnet, with a single overhead camshaft (instead of two) and no turbocharger. Even so, it does make more power, for a total of 88kW, although it makes less torque than the VW. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, with optional CVT. The Jazz uses a little more fuel than the Polo, officially 6.1L/100km, which is still very good. The rear brakes are drums, as opposed to the discs all-round on the Polo.

safety

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

The Polo is first in class with radar cruise control and automatic city braking but these are only available on the more expensive Comfortline model in a $1500 package. Crucially, no Polos come with a reversing camera or even rear parking sensors as standard. These potentially lifesaving features are included in the option pack. The Polo gets five ANCAP stars and six airbags.

Honda Jazz VTi

A big tick for the standard rear camera. Aiding the driver’s vision is the peephole in the windscreen pillar. The wishlist would include radar cruise and city brake as options, but these are available only in the more expensive version of the Polo. It has six airbags and five ANCAP stars.

driving

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

It’s a fun little car and the engine, smooth yet perky, is far more responsive than the numbers suggest. The refinement of the car in general is a step above the Jazz and the suspension is far better sorted, especially on bumpier roads. But there is a lot less room in the front and the back and the boot is also smaller.

Honda Jazz VTi

The Jazz is just so much more practical; it is more like a mini people-mover. It’s so cavernous inside that it could easily carry two lanky teens in the rear without complaint (the Polo could not) and it is not a bad drive either. The suspension is not quite right — ride is choppy on imperfect roads and is a bit jittery around town. The engine (especially with the CVT) is louder than its rival but makes for a faster journey.

Verdict

Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline

Honda Jazz VTi

The Polo is more involving and more refined and has a VW badge. The Jazz is cheaper, has more features including a reversing camera, a more powerful engine — and a remarkably spacious and practical interior.