Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Test Drive Review
We do an in-depth review of the Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI.
Car Tested: Volkswagen Polo Highline Plus 1.0L TSI; Road Test No. 1200; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 9.55 – 11.37 lakhs
A turbocharged engine mated to a manual gearbox makes the decade-old Polo one of the most fun-to-drive petrol hatches today
Volkswagen introduced their first mass-market car in India more than 10 years back. The Volkswagen Polo came across as a premium offering in the hatchback segment and it later spawned sedan and compact sedan versions too. The automaker continues selling the same generation of the hatchback today but it has got some updates for 2020. The Polo has also got the most number of engine options over the years such as 1.2 MPI, 1.2 TDI, 1.6 MPI, 1.6 TDI, 1.5 TDI in two states of tunes, 1.2 TSI, 1.0 MPI and finally this, the 1.0 TSI.
Exteriors – On the outside, the Volkswagen Polo retains the familiar design and the latest model gets new bumpers, new grille, new lights and a strip of body cladding all around. It is an old design but still looks quite good and the minimalist approach works really well. The front of the car now resembles the GTI. The build quality is still good and the solidity of the Polo is a major positive point. The Lapiz Blue shade also looks extremely premium on the Polo.
Interiors – Talking about the interior, well you get the same dashboard and cabin layout. The cabin follows an all-black colour theme and while the fit and finish is good, the cabin does feel a bit claustrophobic at the rear. You get features like electrically adjustable mirrors, automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual front airbags and ABS. Yes, the Polo doesn’t have a very long feature list unlike some of its rivals and it even misses out on a reverse parking camera.
While the front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, the rear seat is very tight and not very practical for tall passengers
The front seats of the Polo are really comfy and the driving position is too good. The rear is quite cramped and the lack of space is very evident. The seats are well-shaped and they’re supportive but they are just not meant for tall people. I’m 6-feet tall and with the driver’s seat set to my driving position, I couldn’t sit comfortably at the rear and my knees were constantly touching the driver’s seat. The rear seat is good enough for two people and short people won’t face such issues. The boot is decently sized at 294-litres. The front doors get large bottle holders but the rear doors do not have bottle holders and they get only slim storage spaces.
Performance – The Volkswagen Polo now comes with a 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine which replaces the older 1.2-litre TSI unit. The older engine had 4-cylinders but the new one is a 3-cylinder powerplant. It belongs to the EA211 family and dishes out 110 HP from 5000-5500 RPM along with 175 Nm from 1750-4000 RPM. Yes, this smaller engine is up by 5 HP but produces the same amount of torque as the older one. There is a significant change on the transmission front because the older GT TSI used to get a 7-speed DSG only but the newer model gets either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed torque converter.
The TSI motor combined with the 6-speed manual gearbox is the perfect choice for enthusiasts looking for a budget hot hatch
Enthusiasts have been asking for a TSI + MT combo on the Polo since years and now we finally have it. The baby TSI engine offers decent driveability in the city with the low-end being commuterish. There is a fair bit of lag below 2500 RPM and the throttle response also feels flat but once you go past this band, the engine really opens up in the mid-range and the real performance lies between 2500-5500 RPM. The TSI mill goes mad, literally, and the pulling power is addictive.
This car is meant for the open roads where you can exploit the engine’s performance properly. Even though the displacement is lesser, this is actually quicker than the older car in 0-100 km/hr sprints and even in-gear acceleration. The 6-speed MT is smooth for most part, but tends to feel a bit notchy sometimes. The clutch isn’t very heavy but the pedal travel is long and the resting point is awkward.
The refinement of this engine isn’t as good as the older engine. At idle, it vibrates a bit and sounds gruff. Vibrations can also be felt through the clutch. It becomes a bit smoother when you start driving but again gets noisy at high RPMs, but still feels more refined than other 3-cylinder engines that we have seen. The ARAI fuel efficiency figure is 18.24 km/l but you can expect somewhere between 10-12 km/l in city driving conditions and it may go up to 14 km/l on the highways. We haven’t driven the torque convertor yet but I feel it won’t be a match to the older DQ200 DSG which was a quick and superior gearbox.
Driving Dynamics – The steering is very precise and doesn’t have any sort of play. You point it and the car will go exactly where you want. At city speeds it is light and weighs up well on the highways but some more feedback would have been better. The car has awesome body control, handles really well and is the most fun to drive car in its segment. Tyres are very grippy and the braking performance is also good. The suspension is tuned to be on the stiffer side so the ride feels a bit stiff at low speeds on poor roads but improves as the speeds increase and roads get better. The car feels very balanced on highways and corners, offering lots of confidence to the driver and begs to be driven hard.
Verdict – The Polo 1.0 TSI is a car that is meant for enthusiasts. You can have tons of fun behind the wheel and the Polo will never disappoint you. All those people who wanted a manual transmission with a TSI engine, now is the time to get this hot hatch. But, if your priorities are space and features and you want the latest car in the market, you will have to look at other options. The Polo TSI costs almost Rs. 10 lakhs (on-road) which is a bit high because you can get the lower variants of the Skoda Rapid TSI for a lesser amount.
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Alternatives – Hyundai Elite i20, Maruti Baleno, Tata Altroz, Honda Jazz, Ford Figo
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