Text – Faisal Khan; Pictures – Ankit Mishra
Volkswagen Polo Long Term Review
The Polo continues to impress us, it’s without doubt the best engineered car in its segment.
The Volkswagen Polo joined our long term fleet earlier this year and we were quite pleased with the car. The Polo has been in the news for quite a lot of reasons in the past few months. Some highlights include the announcement of a facelifted model which is set to go on sale in India later this year, Global NCAP testing the car which happened to fail the crash test and Volkswagen being proactive and announcing dual front airbags as standard on all variants, being so confident that they sponsored a re-test of the car with dual airbags, resulting in the Polo passing with flying colours, receiving an impressive 4 stars. No doubt then, the Polo is a very safe car.
In fact, the Volkswagen Polo feels every inch safe with the stupendous tank like build quality and exceptional fit and finish. Without a second thought, we can confidently say that no car in this segment can hold a match against the Polo as far as overall quality goes. The paint finish is just immaculate, in this red shade, you can even see your own reflection, it’s that darn good. The styling too, just doesn’t fade to excite us, the car has classy proportions which are so VW that you won’t mistake this premium hatch for anything else. Understated yet elegant, the Polo has a lot in common with other Volkswagen cars, because it follows the Wolfsburg manufacturer’s design principle that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
And it’s that very simplicity which bowls you over once you step inside the car. Just like the exteriors, the interiors too are very classy with minimalism working wonders to impress you. The dashboard layout is neat yet evokes a sense of style and substance. The dual-tone treatment helping in boosting the airiness of the cabin while the chrome touches on the centre console and around the AC vents amplify the premium appeal. Small touches like the one-touch up and down power windows for every door really goes a long way in differentiating the Polo from its rivals.
The best aspect of the interior is the three-spoke steering wheel. It’s just fabulous to hold and the chrome on the third spoke is a neat touch. Audio controls on the steering wheel are easy to use on the move as the buttons feel solid and respond instantly to inputs. The seats too are very supportive and there is ample amount of room for all kinds of passengers at the front. Visibility at both the front and rear is excellent, while the classy VW instrument cluster continues to find our admiration even till today.
Plenty of storage spaces inside the cabin make the Polo a very practical car. The glovebox has neat slots to keep coins and sunglasses and is large enough to store even a tissue box. But where the Polo’s interior disappoints is the rear seat, there simply isn’t enough room for tall passengers which kind of makes the Polo a strict two seater, with children at the rear. The boot is accommodating though and we quite appreciate it as things which don’t fit in our long term Maruti Swift’s boot, is easily swallowed by the Polo’s trunk.
Our long term Volkswagen Polo’s front-wheels get moving thanks to the juice supplied by a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder diesel engine which coughs up 75 horses and a torque output of 180 Nm. While the motor is quite free-revving (redlines all the way to 5000 RPM), it’s very noisy and turbo lag is very pronounced, making city driving a not so smooth affair. The gearbox though is smooth shifting and in spite of the lack of horses on tap, the Polo offers reasonably good performance, our VBOX claiming a 0-100 km/hr time of 15.06 seconds.
In fact, the Polo’s 3-pot oil burner isn’t bad at all, keep it on the boil and it will easily reach 160 km/hr without a hiccup, further sprinting to a shade above 180 km/hr. The drawback is, you need to work the gearbox and keep your foot down most of the time, to extract every possible punch out of this powerless engine. If anything, it’s really the engine which spoils the otherwise excellent package but Volkswagen is aware of this and are in process of replacing the 1.2-litre motor with a new 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder powerplant.
We have much more powerful cars in our long term fleet, including those which cost similar amounts of money but pack in 100 PS of power from their 1.5-litre diesel heart. Still, when ever I had to take a long journey, my hands would almost always reach out for the keys of this German. You see, the Polo’s dynamics are just brilliant, handling is good and the ride quality is very pliant too. That coupled with a very stable body at high speeds and good brakes meant that the Polo despite lacking on the horse power front, is still quite a hoot to drive.
The lack of performance from the 1.2-litre TDI mill was our only real gripe with the Polo. But Volkswagen was kind enough to hear us and swapped our car with a spanking new, white Polo GT TDI. Yes, that’s the car which has a 1.6-litre, 105 BHP engine residing under its hood. Packing in 250 Nm of torque, the arrival of the Polo GT TDI in our long term fleet was nothing short of a fest, so much that we immediately drove down to Aamby Valley and showed the car a series of twisties. The result was of course a lot of brake dust on the wheels and more grins on our face then we had driving V8 powered performance cars. The Polo GT TDI is such a fabulous enthusiast machinery that we can’t get enough of it. The Polo 1.2 TDI is gone but won’t be missed because the fabulous Polo GT TDI now resides in our long term garage and we can’t seem to find any major flaw with this truly hot hatch.
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