Tata entered the premium hatchback segment with the new Altroz more than a year ago. It came with a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. With the growing demand of petrol cars amongst customers, Tata decided to spec the Altroz with a turbo version of the existing 1.2-litre engine. A few months ago, Hyundai had also introduced a petrol turbo unit in its all-new i20, which has been selling like hotcakes. Let us look at how the Altroz compares to the i20 in this tussle for turbo supremacy.
Size matters. Usually, that is a line of thought when it comes to engine size which is measure as displacement in cubic centimetres (cc). Theoretically, bigger the displacement more is the power. However, modern technology has made it possible to downsize engines yet offer more power. The reason to downsize an engine is to reduce the weight of the car, which in turn means better efficiency. The Altroz iTurbo comes with a 1199cc three-cylinder engine as compared to the Hyundai i20’s 998cc, which is also a 3 cylinder unit. Bigger is better? Well, Altroz iTurbo makes around 110ps – 24 more than in the non-turbo guise. However, the i20 makes 120ps from its turbo engine. So despite being 3/4th the size of the Tata unit, it still makes around 10ps more. But there is a slight catch here. Tata’s peak power comes at 5500rpm (revolutions per minute) of the engine while the i20 needs 500rpm more to get to its max power. That means you need to rev the Hyundai that much higher, which can affect the fuel efficiency figure.
But that is what will happen at higher speeds such as highway and longer journeys. At slower city speeds and quick pick-up, torque is what works best. And here the i20 looks clearly ahead. It makes 172 Newton-metre of torque as compared to the Altroz’s 140Nm. So definitely that’s a big advantage for the Korean car’s customers. The plus side of the Tata engine is that it manages to offer the max torque over a wider range of the rev band. Both start offering the low-end shove from 1500rpm. While the i20 torque starts dropping past 4000rpm, the Altroz’s keeps going till 5500rpm.
Tata is yet to offer an automatic with the Altroz iTurbo. Man’s Life sources say it won’t come for some time, yet. So currently the Altroz is only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The i20 Turbo on the other hand is available with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as well as Hyundai’s unique intelligent Manual Transmission or iMT. The latter is a semi-manual gearbox where you use the gearshift but there is no need to manually foot press a clutch. The system does it automatically. All the driver needs to do is shove the shifter into the right slot, which is also indicated in the instrument cluster. So, while this reduces city traffic fatigue of frequently changing gears, fuel efficiency is better than an automatic car. The automatic is most convenient but slightly higher on maintenance and fuel consumption.
The suspension set-up on both cars is similar. Even the tyre sizes – both are shod with 195/55 R16 on alloy wheels. But the base iTurbo gets rather small 14-inch steel wheels. Both also come with drum brakes at the rear and disc brakes at the front.
In terms of size, the Altroz is marginally taller while the i20 is marginally longer. This also due to a larger wheelbase. Cabin space is pretty much similar but the rear seat of the i20 offers more legroom. Altroz rear seat is better if you have elderly people in the house as you sit a bit higher. Surprisingly, the i20 has 5mm higher ground clearance than the Tata – 170mm vs 165mm. Ditto for the boot space – i20’s is 351 litres as against 345 litres for the Altroz but in real-world, the latter is too small to make much of a difference.
In terms of safety, both come with dual airbags as standard. However, the i20’s top turbo variant gets 6 airbags as well. Of course, the Altroz iTurbo has a 5-star safety rating in crash tests conducted by Global NCAP. The i20 is yet to be tested. The previous-generation i20 had a 3-star rating. Hyundai claims to have made the new i20 structurally stronger.
Of course, can’t ignore this. Altroz iTurbo has a rated fuel efficiency figure of 18.13kpl. In comparison, the i20 claims 20kpl for the iMT and 20.28kpl for the dual-clutch, partly also due to the fact that the engine displacement is smaller.
As can be seen, both cars pretty evenly matched. While the Tata is now a much better offering with a reasonably powerful engine, the Hyundai does seem to have an edge when it comes to being more versatile with more powertrain options. Of course, you also have to see the price. The i20 Turbo starts at Rs 8.8 lakhs for its base model and goes upto Rs 11.33 lakhs. There are a total of 8 trims to choose between this price range. The Altroz iTurbo starts at a much lower Rs 7.74 lakh. There are three trims on offer with the top-spec costing Rs 8.86 lakh. So it is significantly cheaper than the i20. The value-for-money card is pretty strong for the Altroz iTurbo atleast if a manual-gearboxed premium hatch is what you want. But if you looking at better performance, more driving convenience and do not mind spending a couple of lakhs more, the i20 is the better pick.