Volkswagen Polo GT Test Drive Review
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Volkswagen Polo GT TSI Review

Car Tested: 2013 Volkswagen Polo GT 1.2 TSI

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 9,33,000/-

The new Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is the real hot hatch which offers the perfect combination of speed and adrenaline for the petrolhead.

Hot hatch is an understated term in India. Limited options in the market have meant that this word is used rather inappropriatly. Demand for enthusiast cars is minimal and the primary reason why manufacturers don’t tread into this territory. One fantastic hot hatch was the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 and enthusiasts were bitterly disappointed when VW had to pull the plug on it. It was not financially viable to slot the 1.6 engine in the Polo, specially with the Government doing no favours with the exise duty. Volkswagen had no choice but to do so, especially with such low volumes. However, for those who have been craving for a true performance hatch, their prayers have been answered. The German automaker is all set to introduce the renowned 4-cylinder 1.2-litre TSI engine in the Polo. Mated to the dual-clutch 7-speed DSG transmission, the Polo GT TSI is a petrol heads dream come true. We get behind the wheel of this brand new Polo and find out just how hot it gets.

Exteriors – The exteriors carry very sublime changes. The front grille now carries the GT badge, which is also seen on the rear left of the boot lid. The rear right now carries TSI signage and it’s worthy to note that the name Polo has been completely done away with. VW is of the opinion that the brand and the car are well recognized in the market. Besides, the Polo GT TSI is an enthusiast driven product, hence those who wish to opt for it already know what they are getting into. This new Polo variant also gets ‘GT TSI’ stickers on each C-pillar. Other changes include a new set of ‘Estrada’ alloy wheels. Everything else resembles the regular Volkswagen Polo, which was recently updated.

Interiors – The new Polo GT TSI gets the same interiors as the updated Polo. Built quality has always been the German manufacturer’s strong point and the GT TSI follows the same quality trend. Step inside and you are greeted with well laid out interiors with accurate fit and finish. The two tone dashboard theme in the Polo GT TSI is carried forward from the regular 1.2 model. It’s really hard to tell between the variants once you are inside. This new powerful version gets ‘GT TSI’ branded scuff plates on the doors and the new DSG gearbox is a straight give away. It also gets a more sporty ‘Milan’ Tianschwarz fabric upholstery. Besides these two, everything else is the same as the Highline variant of the new updated Polo.

Seats are comfortable and the Polo has always been on the wrong end as far as interior space goes. Volkswagen has resolved this issue to some extent by giving scooped out front seat back, which aids in improving knee room for the rear passengers. The air conditioner is efficient and cooled us quickly in the summer heat. The air conditioner has buttons instead of dials and the 2-din RCD 320 audio system supports USB/AUX/SD Card and Bluetooth streaming. Phone connectivity has also been catered for and steering mounted buttons make it easy to control the system.

Performance – The new Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is powered by the renowned 1.2-litre, 4 cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine which is known to kick up a storm despite its rather small size. This engine has many international accolades to its credit and it’s the first time this is being used in India. This TSI motor spools up 105 PS of power at 5000 RPM and a torque of 175 NM between 1500 – 4100 RPM. While the Polo 1.6 shared similar power figures, it’s the torque which plays the magic in the GT TSI. Peak power of 105 PS (same as that of 1.6) comes in 250 RPM early at 5000 RPM and the GT TSI produces 22 NM more of torque than its older 1.6 sibling. While peak torque came in at 3750 RPM in the Polo 1.6, the GT TSI is blessed with torque delivery as early as 1500 RPM to 4100 RPM after which it tends to get flat. The result is pure mayhem. Th GT TSI will complete a zero to hundred sprint in 9.7 seconds.

Mated to this TSI motor is VW’s superior DSG (Dual Shift Gearbox) transmission. This 7-speed gearbox is the most advanced transmission seen in any of the hatchbacks in India. The DSG gearbox incorporates a dual clutch system wherein one clutch controls the odd gears and the other controls the even gears. This results not only in quick and efficient shifts but also reduces the lag between gearshifts. The DSG transmission also does duty on other cars from the VW group including the Audis and Skodas. Gear ratios have been tuned to suit both highway and city driving. The lower ratios are short and the sixth and seventh gear are tall enabling the Polo to stretch its legs on open roads, hitting a top speed of around 185 km/hr. Power is available throughout the rev band with strong low end and mid range, due to availability of torque at lower RPM.

Besides the regular ‘D’ mode, this 7-speed gearbox also incorporates the ‘S’ (Sports) mode. For those who like to step it up further, the tiptronic function enables you to manually shift gears, highly recommended if you want the adrenaline to pump harder. The NVH levels are fantastic and you will be amazed with the soundtrack of this 1.2 TSI motor. Inspite of having a cubic capacity of 1197cc, the engine note is nothing short of racing nirvana. In the tiptronic mode, the Polo GT TSI will hit the rev limiter at around 6000 RPM before up shifting to the next gear. It will also hold the RPM in the given gear till you hit the rev limiter. Something which can only be translated in to a wide smile on your face every time you floor the pedal to the metal.

If you want to work the auto box, the ‘S’ mode is pretty good. As compared to the ‘D’ mode, the gears shift with more urgency giving you the kick you want. For routine driving in the city, the ‘D’ mode works best. Paddles would have completed what already is a brilliant package, we reckon Volkswagen will slot in paddle shifts soon. VW has extensively tested the 1.2-litre GT TSI in demanding conditions and have plugged the holes which led to failure of the DSG boxes. The company is confident that the DSG box will be maintenance free for the consumer.

Fuel consumption won’t really bother the enthusiast, however, the motto behind the Polo GT TSI has been ‘Maximum Performance and Minimum Consumption’. The Polo returns an impressive mileage of 17.2 km/l as per ARAI test standards. In the real world, we got a mileage of around 10-10.5 km/l in the ‘D’ mode on our drive. Keeping the engine on the boil in the tiptronic mode, the Polo returned around 7 km/l on our drive, which is quite good for a performance hatchback.

Driving Dynamics – The Polo is already well known for its ride and handling combination. The suspension setup is similar to the new updated Polo and ride is pliant on most surfaces with only the large bumps making its way into the cabin. With so much power on hand, especially with the peak torque coming in at lower revs, Volkswagen is offering ‘Electronic Stability Program’ or ESP as standard on the GT TSI. The ESP can be turned off by the flick of a button, however, it’s best kept engaged. Floor the accelerator and you will love the Polo’s urgency to gather speed. The steering weighs up nicely and gives you the feedback you expect from this performance hatchback.

The GT TSI takes corners in its pride and loves quick changes in direction, the ESP ensuring you stay on the road. There is enough grip on hand and the 185/60/15 tyres do a fairly good job. Ground clearance of 168 mm is good enough for most Indian roads. On our drive, the Polo’s underbelly stayed clear of the bumps on Goa roads. Braking performance is commendable and on hard braking, the Polo stopped without any hiccups. ABS and ESP work in tandem to shed speed quickly and safely. The Polo GT TSI also gets ‘Hill Hold’ function. When going uphill, the GT TSI will give you 3 seconds to get onto the accelerator and drive away before rolling backwards. More than enough time to get off the brake and step on the gas.

Verdict – The new Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is nothing short of a class act from Volkswagen. While most manufacturers aim to bring mass market cars to cater to the majority of the population, we applaud VW for bringing in something for the enthusiast. The Polo GT TSI is not only the fastest hatchback in the country but also the only one to get a turbocharged petrol motor with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. It takes over where the Polo 1.6 left off, that too in a far superior way. With brilliant driving dynamics, the Polo GT is pure nirvana for those who wish to tame speed on a daily basis. Prices are yet to be announced and we expect the GT TSI to be priced approximately Rs. 1.5 lakhs more (ex-showroom) than the 1.2 Highline Petrol, If so, it will not only be tremendous value for the buck but a package nobody is likely to beat in the coming future.

The Polo GT TSI is the most engaging car in its segment and redefines the term ‘Hot Hatch’ with brilliant performance and sharp driving dynamics. Factor in the 7-speed DSG gearbox, the Polo GT TSI is simply an unbeatable package.

What’s Cool

* Performance
* DSG Gearbox
* Engine Note

What’s Not So Cool

* Paddle Shifts Missing

2013 Volkswagen Polo GT Specifications

* Engine: 1197cc, 4-cylinder, Turbocharged Stratified Injection
* Power: 105 PS @ 5000 RPM
* Torque: 175 Nm @ 1500-4100 RPM
* Transmission: 7-speed automatic
* Top Speed: 190 km/hr
* 0-100 km/h: 9.7 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 9 km/l (City), 12 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Semi-independent trailing arm (Rear)
* Tyres: 185/60/15 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)
* Safety: ABS, ESP, Hill Hold, Dual Airbags, Electronic Immobilizer

2013 Volkswagen Polo GT Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3970 mm X 1682 mm X 1453 mm
* Wheelbase: 2456 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1463/1463 mm
* Ground clearance: 168 mm
* Turning Radius: 4.97-metres
* Boot Volume: 260-litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1140 kgs