2016 Volkswagen Polo GT TDI Long Term Review
The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is easily the hottest diesel hatchback in India

Volkswagen Polo GT TDI Long Term Review

Long Term Test No. 86

Car Tested: Volkswagen Polo GT TDI
Kms Done: 2480 kms
Test Started at: 3115 kms
Test Concluded at: 5595 kms
Mileage: 14.24 km/l, 17.48 km/l (best), 10.16 km/l (worst)
Fuel Consumed: 174-litres
Fuel Cost: Rs. 9752/-
Rs. per km: Rs. 3.93/-

The VW Polo GT TDI ensures a huge smile on the face every time one gets behind the wheel

We at MotorBeam are big fans of German cars and we aren’t much different from most people as who doesn’t like an European automobile? Certain trademark features from the continent are high emphasis on safety, driving feel and build quality. So whether it’s a luxury sedan or even a hatchback, all German cars follow this trait and the most affordable of them all is the Volkswagen Polo. Classified as a premium hatchback, we had the updated Polo 1.5L for a long term with us for our first stint with the car and Volkswagen generously swapped the 90 BHP diesel model with the GT TDI, we were on cloud nine!

The Polo GT TDI looks attractive in spite of the design being old now

The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is no longer the standout variant of the Polo range like it was earlier as the new 1.5-litre diesel mill which powers it as well as the regular diesel Polo, ensures the oil burner has enough punch for those who opt for the non GT variants. This wasn’t the case before because the old 1.6-litre GT TDI stood out as being vastly more powerful than the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder powered model. Is the 15 HP difference a world apart? Nope but we still prefer the GT as not only does it pump our chest with pride but is also more sporty on the inside.

Red is by far the best colour on the Polo, the paint quality is super

Volkswagen designers surely know what timeless design means because the Polo has it for sure. So many years (six to be precise) and the car still looks as good as ever. Small updates now and then have ensured the freshness stays with the car while the GT’s piano black rearview mirrors and spoiler add that sporty pretext. Bigger wheels or at least darkened alloys would have looked smashing on the GT twins as they still look sleeper, the big giveaway being the GT badge on the front grille.

Interior quality is fantastic, the Polo is a German car in the true sense

On the inside, the all-black cabin is a favourite and the build quality is under-rated because the more we praise it, the less it is. The quality of the interiors is simply flawless, there is absolutely no ill-fitting panels anywhere and a pointless microscope search for gaps went futile. This is after all German engineering and these Germans have an obsession with quality. What these Germans did overlook was cabin space which is a bit of a surprise considering Europeans are tall in height. Sitting at the rear isn’t advisable for adults when tall occupants are sitting at the front.

Cosmetic tweaks to distinguish the GT from regular models would be nice

One thing which really impressed me with our time with the car is the audio system. Bluetooth pairing is flawless and quick and the system always automatically connects to the car without pressing a single button. The audio system too offers good output and that coupled with the excellent cabin insulation ensures a decent sound experience. One gripe with the audio system is, it doesn’t lower volume when you go into reverse so one can’t hear the parking sensors. The segment unique one-touch up and down power windows for all doors is another small yet nifty feature. The big boot of the Polo swallows a lot of luggage which helped during shoots.

The 1.5-litre diesel mill packs in some serious mid-range punch

The Polo’s eager mid-range is very exciting and this car is loads of fun

Of course the highlight of the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is the engine, the new 1.5-litre motor outputs the same numbers as in the case of the Vento and Skoda Rapid, that’s 105 horses and 260 Nm of twisting force. This makes the Polo the most powerful made in India diesel hatchback but due to the initial lag, the car isn’t slick off the line and ambling in the city isn’t such a swift job due to the lack of punch in the low-end. But the mid-range is very strong and the car will happily redline all the way past 5000 RPM, it’s a free revving motor by diesel standards.

The Polo GT TDI loves the highways and pulls to 160 km/hr in no time

Highway is where the Volkswagen Polo truly shines so when you upshift in the mid-range, you will see 160 km/hr very quickly and this car will come close to hitting the double ton, such is the pace of the GT. The GT badge is thus justified with ample performance on tap although I suspect the option of a DSG automatic gearbox will take the popularity of this hatchback to all new levels. Volkswagen has the set-up as both the Vento and Rapid get the automatic gearbox on the same diesel engine. This might just eat into the sales of the GT TSI though and thus VW might be avoiding such a move.

Open roads are an invitation for the Volkswagen Polo to let loose

NVH levels are decent, the car isn’t the quietest in the class but the diesel clatter isn’t audible and it sounds nice when you rev it hard. What’s the most pleasing about the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is the ride, handling and braking balance, it’s almost perfect. Almost because there is too much understeer near the limit (a trait rare to ignore on front-wheel drive cars). Ride quality is good, high speed stability is excellent, steering has ample feel and is just the right size with an appealing flat-bottom design. Brakes do a good job but we have been shedding a lot of brake dust on the left front wheel which looks almost black now.

Posing with a Ducati, a bike company which is part of the VW Group

Volkswagen Polo GT TDI Service Costs

1. Service Schedule – Every 15,000 kms/1 year (whichever is earlier)

2. Cost of Service per 1,00,000 kms – Rs. 0.70/- per km for up to 1,05,000 kms (This cost is towards 7 periodic maintenance services and involves only periodic maintenance related parts and labour).

3. Cost of Spares –

a. Engine Oil per Service – Rs. 4042 (4.3-litres)
b. Brake Oil – Rs. 482/- (750 ml)
c. Oil Filter – Rs. 420/-
d. Fuel Filter – Rs. 2626/-
e. Brake Pads (Front and Rear) – Front – Rs. 1844/-; Rear – Rs. 1705/-
f. Front Bumper (With primer without painting) – Rs. 4060/-
g. Rear Bumper (With primer without painting) – Rs. 4600/-
h. Headlamp Assembly (Each) – Rs. 12,623/-
i. Tail Lamp assembly (Each) – Rs. 3121/-

The above prices are MRP and the per km cost includes service tax and VAT.

Volkswagen offers a free inspection service after the first 6 months/7500 kms (whichever comes earlier); 2 years/unlimited kms warranty; 3 years paint warranty; 6 years anti-perforation warranty and free RSA for 2 years from the date of sale.

For those seeking fun in a diesel, nothing beats the Polo GT TDI yet

The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is the perfect enthusiast’s toy. It’s not very practical for carrying people because the rear seat experience is quite poor (even by hatchback standards) but discount that and there is no real fault to find. The Polo has been a fantastic car since its launch in India in 2010 and continues to impress even today by being the best enthusiast machine in the hatchback space. An all-rounder which manages to look good, drive well, feature loaded and solidly build, the balance between fun and comfort really makes the GT TDI an enthusiast’s must consider chariot.

Rear seat space is the only gripe we found with the Volkswagen Polo

What’s Cool

* Understated elegance – both the exterior and interior reek of class
* Powerful diesel engine is both fun and frugal when you take it easy
* Quality and feel is premium, the Polo feels German in every way
* Splendid ride, handling, steering and brake balance, it’s a driver’s delight
* An NCAP 4-star car, safer than the much fresher Maruti Baleno

What’s Not So Cool

* Same engine in other VW cars gets an option of an automatic gearbox
* Rear seat lacks space and isn’t suited for tall occupants
* Brake pads wear quickly, with all that power, you tend to use the brakes harder
* Low-end lag is a lot, the Polo TDI needs to be kept on the boil in city conditions

The upcoming Polo GTI will further impress hot hatch lovers

Testers’ Note:

“Driving the Polo GT TDI for sometime now, it was difficult to find fault with the vehicle, other than the lack of rear space. Everything has been done so well, be it design, quality, ride, handling, braking, performance and even safety. The Polo GT TDI will soon get a slight bump in power and I can only imagine how crazier this German hatch will become. Practicality might not be its forte but the driver engagement it offers makes is more of a heart decision than that of the head.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“The Polo GT TDI is an enthusiast’s dream with a good performance to price ratio. The new updates to the Polo make it quite attractive but personally speaking I would tilt in favour of the GT TSI. The TSI sounds better, is fast and comes with the convenience of a 7-Speed DSG which makes more sense for someone like me who spends hours in traffic. However, purely from an enthusiasts perspective, the Polo GTs are the best you can get as a complete package.” – Dr. Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
“The Volkswagen Polo with its timeless design never tends to look old and with the frequent cosmetic and equipment updates, VW keeps it fresh. The regular version of the Polo itself is super fun to drive but the GT TDI badging takes the fun factor further to another level. Mash the throttle down and it gives a massive thrust of torque post 2000 RPM. The acceleration is very addictive but there is some turbo lag to deal with in traffic conditions. All in all, the Polo GT TDI is a fantastic pocket rocket to live with.” – Aariz Rizvi, Assistant Editor, MotorBeam.
“I have had a thing for the Volkswagen Polo since a long time and love the way it looks as well as drives. The 1.5-litre GT TDI has brutal acceleration and is easily one of the best driver’s cars this side of Rs. 15 lakhs. The interiors are well put together and the Polo now boasts of decent kit too. My heart still tilts towards the GT TSI as I am more of a petrol-head. It was a joy to drive the Polo which was everyone’s favourite in the MotorBeam garage!” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading

Volkswagen Polo Long Term Review – Initial Report
2015 Volkswagen Polo Review
Hyundai Elite i20 vs Maruti Swift vs Volkswagen Polo vs Fiat Punto Evo