Volkswagen Polo Diesel – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car tested: 2010 Volkswagen Polo Diesel Comfortline

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6,76,545/-

The mid size hatch segment is boiling and options are numerous. Few cars stand out from the crowd and one of them is the globally successful Volkswagen Polo. Volkswagen have been through an extremely aggressive ad campaign and its spelling out to be successful for the German auto giant. We have reviewed the Polo 1.2 petrol lately and now we get our hands on the Polo 1.2 TDI. In a country where diesel is the drink of choice when it comes to your car, we find out if the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDI hits the sweet spot!

Exteriors – The exteriors remain the same between the petrol and diesel versions. The VW logo in the center of the bonnet is catching and the headlight assembly is nicely shaped and defines the look of the car. The lower part of the front bumper seems to be aerodynamically designed with sharp projections on either side, just below the fog light area. (Our test car did not have fog lights). Sharp lines running along the sides look appealing and enhance the look of the car in general. The rear is slightly disappointing compared to the overall look of the car, it looks slightly outdated, especially the tail light cluster. TDI badge on the lower right corner is the only way to distinguish between a petrol and diesel variant. Integrated spoiler and boot opener integrated with the VW logo is classy. Overall the car looks sleek and stylish.

Boot space is on the healthier side and rear seats can be folded in 60:40 ratio.

Another thing which stands out, and stands out well is the paint quality. Fantastic and not seen anywhere in the segment, in fact VW even offers a 6 year anti corrosion warranty on it.

Interiors – Step in and the one is greeted with 2 tone black and beige interiors. Lack of gadgetry means simple yet naked interiors similar to the petrol version we had tested sometime back. Not to be disappointed though, as the top of the line versions come loaded with goodies.

Seats are comfortable but if you are a tall driver, you are in for some trouble as your left leg would hit the center console while driving (using the clutch) and one would probably need a knee guard like the one used in MotoGP. To overcome this, one is forced to take the seat further behind and its a bit better. Driver seat height adjuster and tilt adjustable steering is standard. A small glitch shadows the door locking mechanism. The doors do not auto lock and can be opened and locked only from the drivers side. All 4 power windows are provided but the rear windows cannot be rolled up or down from the drivers side. Quite funny since the driver can control all four windows in most cars. Surprisingly no electrically adjustable mirrors, not expected from a premium hatchback. Central locking is standard (no keyless entry) on the Comfortline.

Typical German headlight switch.

Rear headroom and legroom is adequate. Seats are comfortable.

Built Quality – The Germans are known for top notch build quality and even though VW’s tagline says “German engineering, made in India”, the built quality is indeed German. The Polo’s built quality is as good as the Polo’s reputation internationally. Plastic quality is top notch and hard to find any panel gaps even with a microscope. Potholes are well soaked by the suspension with hardly much being passed onto the passengers. Doors shut with a loud thud and top of the line variants come loaded with ABS and Airbags, adding to the safety. German engineering also does not go with any rattles and squeaks and so did the Polo.

On the Move –  The 1.2 liter 3 cylinder engine starts with a wee bit of vibration. Slot into first and one notices that the Polo’s gearbox is one of the best in the segment. Effortless short shifts with no hint of notchiness or rubbery feel at all. The TDI engine feels extremely sluggish till about 2000 rpm and there on, the Polo is a pocket rocket. We will come to that a bit later.

The digital multi-information display on the instrument cluster shows which gear the car is in and upward and downward arrows indicate the right time to upshit or downshift in order to derive the best combination of performance and fuel efficiency. Gear ratios are very different as compared to the petrol version and are more suited to the diesel engine. Driving dynamics are not the same, again owing to the front heavy diesel motor. Steering is light and becomes even lighter as one speeds up. Tap the horn, its loud and crisp (similar to the one on the Octavia and three grille Optra) and certainly attracts attention on the road. Volkswagen claim to have made the horn ideal for Indian conditions and they are spot on. Air conditioning is great and the Polo is ‘Chilled Out’, quite literally in no time. No factory fitted audio system on the comfortline variant. Clutch rest was missed on long highway bursts.

Ride, Handling and Braking – The 185/60/15 Apollo Acelere may not be the best tires for the job but offer generous grip and ride. The comfortline variant is devoid of alloy wheels but our test car was sporting them. Ride height has been increased for Indian roads (where we have a range of speed breakers to chassis breakers). The Polo’s handing is not the sharpest in the segment but is good nonetheless and the Polo does not give us a reason to complain in the handling department. Light steering helps maneuvering in the city and the Polo changes direction without any fuss.

Brakes are great but we missed ABS here and it goes without saying that the tires give up before the brakes under hard braking.

Lack of ABS on our test car result in some smokey moments but nothing to worry, the highline version offers ABS as standard.

Performance – The 1199cc, 3 cylinder TDI engine punches out 75 Ps @ 4200 rpm and 180 Nm of torque @ 2000 rpm. Turbo lag is a big put off till about 2000 rpm and then its game on. In city traffic, the Polo struggles when driven below 2000 rpm range but once past that its fun to drive. The car accelerates effortlessly and can easily put the renowned 1.3 multijet engine to shame. The Polo hits 100 kmph in less than 15 seconds and easily hits a top speed of 160 but engine whine becomes more and more evident as one goes past 140. Engine refinement (post 2000 rpm) is at its best and the Polo does not rev more than 3000 rpm in neutral and even while hitting the rev limiter, the Polo just does not jerk like other cars do and the ECU subtly cuts off the power. The engine is refined post 2000 rpm and the engine note is so sweet that one can’t help but drive at full revs and under these driving conditions, the Polo delivered a mileage of 13 – 14 kmpl, a good figure under extreme conditions and in regular driving situations we can expect the Polo to give about 15 – 16 kmpl (mix of both city and highway driving).

Conclusion – The Polo is a great car overall and ‘German’ quality shows in all respects. The 1.2 TDI engine strikes a perfect balance between pure performance and great fuel efficiency. In a car which is positioned as an international premium hatchback, a little more gadgetry like electrically adjustable mirrors, auto lock on driving, etc would certainly do good. Thin dealership network may be a negative for some but Volkswagen is continuously expanding its dealer base to provide for a better servicing experience. The VW badge, itself, is a good enough reason to go for the Polo, which definitely lives up to its “German Engineering – Made in India’ tagline.

Whats Kool

  • Stunning looks
  • Ride and handling combo
  • Braking even without ABS
  • Built quality
  • Horn tone
  • 6 years anti-corrosion warranty

Whats UnKool

  • Service costs are still unknown
  • Uncomfortable driving position for tall drivers
  • Equipment levels (no mirror on sun visors, climate control, audio controls on steering wheel even on the highline)
  • Poor dealership network

Volkswagen Polo Diesel Specifications –

  • Engine: 1199cc, 3-Cylinder
  • Power: 75PS @ 4200rpm
  • Torque: 180Nm @ 2000rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual
  • Top Speed: 164 km/hr
  • 0-100 km/hr: 14.40 seconds
  • Fuel Consumption: 14-15 km/l (City), 18-19 km/l (Highway)
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Suspension: McPherson Struts with Stabilizer bar (Front), Semi-independent trailing arm (Rear)
  • Tires: 185/60/15 Tubeless Radials
  • Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drums (Rear)
  • Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags (Highline)

Volkswagen Polo Diesel Dimensions –

  • Overall length x width x height: 3970 mm X 1682 mm X 1453 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2456 mm
  • Ground clearance: 168 mm
  • Turning Radius: 4.97 m
  • Boot Volume: 260 liters
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
  • Kerb Weight: 1145 kgs