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It is VW Polo and Honda Fit’s turf now

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The German made VW Polo Mk4 is yet to gain the popularity enjoyed by hatchbacks from Japan. FILE & ISMAIL KEZAALA PHOTOS 



Posted  Thursday, February 20   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Twelve years since their manufacture, the 2002 Honda Fit and the Volkswagen Polo Mk4 are yet to become popular in Uganda. Given people’s love for small engines, maybe it is a matter of time. Paul Kaganzi analyses the two hatchbacks that are popular in Europe.

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BACKGROUND
The battle of the “pocket friendly” hatchback super minis rages on between the fourth generation VW Polo Mk4 and the Honda Fit. Polo was produced with a variety of engines ranging from the petrol 1.2 litre, 1.4 litre,1.6 litre and the diesel 1.9 litre. Their most popular engines are the 1.5 and 1.8 litre engines. Honda Fit, also called Jazz in Europe, was launched in 2001. It was an instant hit especially with the 1.3 and 1.5 litre engines. Honda Fit came with the 2WD and 4WD options both for the Japanese and European or rest of the world markets.

PERFORMANCE
The traffic lights turn green ... the Golf IV and its rival Ford Focus speed off. As they gain momentum, Polo’s1.4 litre and Fit’s 1.3 litre petrol engines are both quite efficient, however their slightly different engine sizes, valve train and fuel delivery technologies give them a contrasting performance.

The Polo engine has a multi-point electronic fuel injection system with double overhead camshafts (DOHC) rocking 16 valves which produces faster acceleration and more engine power compared to the Fit. The Honda L series engine with eight valve iDSi (intelligent dual and sequential) and indirect fuel injection technology uses two spark plugs per cylinder. This allows better combustion of petrol which gives the Fit lower fuel consumption and emissions compared to the Polo.

Fit’s Single overhead camshaft (SOHC) valve train gives it low end torque which means it has adequate power and economy at low engine revolutions. This achievement is enhanced by Honda’s CVT (continuous velocity transmission) which intelligently matches gear ratios to throttle demand.

Polo will appeal to the highway drivers who need a little more power and quick response. Fit on the other hand is a fantastic blend of good performance and better fuel economy which is an attractive choice for the regular Kampala traffic bound driver.

STYLE, DESIGN & COMFORT
Polo has rather plain and practical exterior and interior styling while the Fit has more attractive looks. The Polo external design in keeping with the VW tradition leaves no room for much creativity. Knobs and switches are predictable and easy to find. Fit is engaging and its inspiring instrument cluster is clear with rally type round gauges. The Fit interior finish, though largely vinyl has better duo tone finish that improves the plastic look. Polo and Fit have the same comfort features like air conditioning, power windows, fabric seats and a CD player.

Fit offers the convenient CVT and excels in the comfort and convenience segment with its smart multiple seating arrangements: normal, utility, long, tall and refresh which create a lower floor for taller people and bigger cargo. This is achievable because the Fit has bigger dimensions and its fuel tank is located under the driver and front passenger seat allowing a lower seat or ability to fold down for a flat and bigger load space. Both the Polo and Fit offer world class safety standards and are equipped with safety features like airbags and anti-locking brakes. However, Polo has higher crash test safety ratings from international test centres.

RELIABILITY & RESALE VALUE
He 2002 VW Polo and Honda Fit are both reliable vehicles from world renowned car manufacturers. However, their engines require high grade engine motor oil and routine service with genuine parts. In Uganda the Polo has more independent parts dealers who provide the routine engine service parts like filters. Honda has fewer parts dealers. Fit’s parts’ availability and pricing keeps improving as more of the cars are imported. The suspension and body parts are pricey and found with a handful of dealers. Fit’s better design style and new look gives it a better resale value than Polo.

HANDLING
The Polo and Fit’s blend of aerodynamic body structures and independent front and rear suspension gives them reasonable stability and good handling on our Gulu, Jinja or Hoima highways. The Polo driver should not over speed through the sharp bends because its steering feels lighter. Polo’s higher centre of gravity and narrower wheel base give it more sway and body roll during tight manouvres than the wider and longer Fit.

The weighing scale
vw polo mk4 1.4l honda fit 1.3l
Year of manufacture 2002 2002
Engine size cubic capacity: 1,390 L4, DOHC 16V 1,339 L4 DOHC 16V
Engine power: 73KW/ 98hp @ 6,000 rpm 63KW / 88hp @ 5,700 rpm
Engine torque: 125 Nm@4,400rpm 119Nm@ 2,800rpm
Accerelation 0-100kph: 12.10 seconds 14.4 seconds
Fuel economy (highway): 18.34 km/l / 45L 19.4 km/l / 42L
Length (mm) : 3,909 4,310
Width (mm) : 1,675 1,690
Height (mm) : 1,526 1,485
Ground clearance (mm): 168 / 211 160 / 289
Cost price for used : Shs18m Shs18m
Resale value locally: Shs6m Shs12m
Star rating: **** *****