Volkswagen Polo Diesel Long Term Review
The new 1.5-litre diesel engine finally does justice to the fantastic Volkswagen Polo
If we had to count how many updates the Volkswagen Polo has received in India since the time of launch in 2010, we would take some time to answer but a quick reply would be this is our third long term Polo. We have had the 1.2-litre 3-cylinder diesel Polo earlier which was followed by the tarmac scorching Polo GT TDI. The Polo 1.5 TDI is the latest car to join our long term fleet and while most things remain familiar, there are a slew of changes which differentiate the latest model from its predecessor. Other than the cosmetic tweaks, the standout of course is the new diesel motor which finally does justice to the Polo, the old 1.2-litre 3-pot mill being archaic in comparison.
Before we get to the heart of the matter, aka the engine, let’s talk a bit about the styling. The Polo in its latest avatar looks fresh courtesy of the minor changes and the chrome additions at the front. The tweaks at the rear aren’t very apparent but the new alloy wheels give it away that this is the latest Polo indeed. Our tester is finished in orange shade which for some reason everyone likes a lot. I still prefer the red colour on the Polo which reflects Volkswagen’s rich paint quality very well. The structure and body panels remain the same on the Polo and in spite of the car’s age (6 years since it was first unveiled), it continues to look attractive.
The highlight on the inside is that fab to hold flat-bottom steering wheel which feels a tad bit heavier now. In fact, if you switch from a Hyundai car to the Polo, you immediately feel your muscles working that extra bit to manoeuvre the car. The dual-tone black and beige interiors look nice and feel airy, the silver inserts on the centre console grow on you with time although black finishing is still something we prefer. The seats are supportive and comfortable enough for long rides and the multi-information display has an array of data too. The best part about the Polo (compared to rivals) and something which spoils you, are the one-touch up/down power windows for all doors.
The Polo feels like a premium hatchback in the way it drives and feels
The lack of space at the rear continues to be a big gripe and although quality is excellent with the build being top-notch, this car is best suited for two people with some luggage as the boot is accommodating. Small attention to detail is what makes the Polo justify its premium price, like the VW logo at the rear which doubles up as the knob to open the boot-lid and the way the engine doesn’t rev past 2500 RPM when the car is in neutral. Coming to the new oil burner, the 1.5-litre 4-pot mill jets out 90 German horses with a class leading 230 Nm of torque. This motor is matched to a smooth shifting 5-speed gearbox while its immediate rivals make do with a 6-speed box.
The new diesel engine is without doubt the standout of this car as it gives it punchy performance, the low-end is good, the mid-range is the strongest while there is no top-end as such, the powerplant won’t hesitate to go all the way to 5400 RPM, becoming vocal as you whizz past 4000 RPM. The sound at higher revs might bother some but those people will anyways not redline the car while for us enthusiasts, although there is no progress at redline, the sound comes across as worth listening to. With a 0-100 km/hr time of 12.34 seconds, the Polo is much faster than the 1.2-litre model it replaces while also making one question the need for the Polo GT TDI now.
When driven sedately, short shifting at around 2000 RPM, one still makes good progress to dispatch most of the traffic. The clutch is slightly heavy and power delivery is linear because of the improved low-end punch. NVH levels are good although not very silent like the Hyundai Elite i20. But the slight noise you hear offers the feel you would expect from driving a hot hatchback. In our regular driving cycle, we have been getting a mileage of 15 km/l which is very good while a bit spirited behaviour results in the numbers dropping to 13 km/l.
The Volkswagen Polo has always been a fun car to drive and it is even better now with VW tweaking the steering for more feel. The car offers splendid handling, body control is excellent with good grip levels from the Apollo tyres (not sure about the MRF or JKs which VW has started to use recently). The brakes are strong and the ride quality is much improved, specially at low speeds. Thus, the Polo is a car with very balanced dynamics and what really transforms the driving experience is the punchy engine. So you do have a lot of fun behind the wheel as you can go fast, corner hard, brake late and pin-point the vehicle exactly where you want.
The Volkswagen Polo is a favourite of all enthusiasts who might call the car over-priced, lacking in space or missing on certain features which the competition has started to offer recently. But deep down inside, these enthusiasts can’t think of buying any other car other than the Polo, the GT variants more so. With the Polo’s future now in the know, this car is set to increase in popularity overtime. Soon enough, VW will launch yet another minor update with added features, followed by the crazy-fast GTI (6.7 seconds for the 0-100 km/hr sprint). The next generation model due in 2018 will use an emerging market specific MQB-A0 platform and should resolve the rear seat space issue. Till then, the Polo will continue to please enthusiasts who want a pure fun to drive car without having much consideration for rear seat occupants, this is a driver’s hatch!
Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta
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