Which B-segment hatchback has the best power-to-weight ratio?

Eric/May 17, 2020 09:00 AM

Like the B-segment sedan market, the B-segment hatchback market is also a very competitive segment.

Depending on which hatchback you pick, some are either very practical, or offer class-leading ride and handling prowess.

But if power is what you’re chasing after, let’s take a closer look and see which B-segment hatchback offers the best power-to-weight ratio.

Honda Jazz – Solid all-rounder, but starting to show its age

Like its Honda City sibling, the Honda Jazz is a very popular B-segment hatchback, as its trick interior packaging is bar-none.

Furthermore, its 1.5-litre engine outputs segment-leading figures (120 PS, 145 Nm), which enables the Jazz to boast a power-to-weight ratio of 109 PS-per-tonne, marginally higher than the City (108 PS-per-tonne).

But if you are gunning for even more outright grunt, the Jazz Hybrid’s power-to-weight ratio comes in at 118 PS-per-tonne, making it the power-to-weight ratio champ in this comparison.

Mazda 2 – The driver’s choice

While the Mazda 2 may not be as popular as the Honda Jazz, it still has a strong following, thanks to its sublime handling and upmarket interior.

Although the Mazda 2’s SkyActiv-G engine makes 5 PS less than the Jazz, its tips the scales at 1,065 kg, 34 kg less than the Jazz.

As such, the Mazda 2 is able to boast a power-to-weight ratio of 108 PS-per-tonne, practically neck-to-neck with the Jazz.

That said, despite their similar power-to-weight ratios, the Mazda 2 is still a better driver’s option than the Jazz, largely due to its rev-happy engine and more direct feel 6-speed automatic, which thanks to its lock-up clutch, feels much more engaging than the Jazz’s CVT.

But all of that comes at a price (literally), as the Mazda 2 is priced at an eye-watering RM 104,170, the most expensive hatchback here.

Toyota Yaris – A solid alternative to the Jazz

Unlike the Toyota Vios and its Gazoo Racing alter ego, the Yaris may not boast a motorsports image, but that’s totally fine, as we will explain below.

Mechanically, the Yaris is identical to the Vios, as both cars share the 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i engine that does 107 PS and 140 Nm.

The Yaris’ kerb weight is also similar to the Vios, meaning the power-to-weight ratio is identical, coming in at 93 PS-per-tonne, the lowest in this comparison.

Despite its lowest power-to-weight ratio, the Yaris is the quietest and most comfortable in this segment. Furthermore, we reckon that the Yaris is a better buy than the Vios too.

Volkswagen Polo – Wait, how old is it again?

The Volkswagen Polo is the oldest model in this comparison, as Volkswagen launched this generation of the Polo way back in 2009, meaning that it is 11 years old this year.

Old age aside, the Volkswagen Polo is the cheapest option here, as prices start from RM 75,730 for the 1.6-litre variant.

Unlike the Vento’s forced-induction engine, the Polo makes do with a lower cost (and lower power output) naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine that does 105 PS and 153 Nm.

Thanks to the Polo’s 1,020 kg kerb weight, its power-to-weight ratio comes in at 103 PS-per-tonne, putting it ahead of the Yaris.

Couple that with the excellent ride and handling prowess, we reckon that the Polo is quite a hidden gem, assuming you can look past its paltry dual airbags and lack of stability control.

Wait, what about the Perodua Myvi and Proton Iriz?

Malaysia’s best-selling hatchback, the Perodua Myvi, features two powertrain options – a 1.3-litre petrol engine (95 PS, 121 Nm) and a 1.5-litre petrol engine (103 PS, 137 Nm). While output figures may trail some of its rivals, where the Myvi claws back is its light weight.

The Myvi’s kerb weight ranges from 955 kg to 1,015 kg, making it one of the lightest B-segment hatchbacks on sale today.

As such, the Myvi’s power-to-weight ratio ranges from 100 PS-per-tonne (1.3 G MT) to 101 PS-per-tonne (1.5 AV AT).

Like the Perodua Myvi, the Proton Iriz is also available with two powertrain options – a 1.3-litre petrol engine (95 PS/120 Nm) and a 1.6-litre petrol engine (109 PS, 150 Nm).

Despite these numbers, the Iriz is a much heavier car, which hurts the power-to-weight ratio.

The Iriz’s power-to-weight ratio ranges from 84 PS-per-tonne (1.3 Standard MT) to 93 PS-per-tonne (1.6 Premium CVT).

Conclusion

The Honda Jazz is a great choice for those who wants a practical hatchback that can handle an Ikea run or two like a champ. Flipside is that lower variants of the Jazz are sparsely equipped, and the infotainment head unit is a let-down.

But if you’re still young (and single), then the Mazda 2 may fit the bill, assuming you can justify the price premium over the other options. In return, you get a well-built little hatchback that puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel.

If you want an excellent all-rounder, it’s hard to argue against the Toyota Yaris. The Yaris may be a newcomer to the segment, but UMW Toyota Motor has done its homework with the Yaris and it shows – equipment levels are generous and there’s little to fault the Yaris. Maybe the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay could sweeten the deal for some.

As for the Myvi, it’s no surprise why it is Malaysia’s best-selling hatchback – it is everything the average Malaysian seeks in a car: a frugal engine, handsome looks, and an affordable price. The inclusion of Perodua’s ASA ADAS suite certainly helped to propel the Myvi ahead of the Iriz in terms of sales.

That leaves us with the Proton Iriz. The Iriz is proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a hatchback that handles decently. Yes, the CVT is sub-par, not as good as the Proton Saga's 4-speed torque converter automatic, but at least it drives a lot better than the Myvi. For all intents and purposes, the Iriz does its job well enough, and that’s all that matters.

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