Volkswagen Polo: From sombre city car into a street fighter

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Aug 16 2014, 14:30pm hrs
Volkswagen PoloFor Rs 4.99-6.07 lakh for the 1.2 MPI, and Rs 6.27-7.37 lakh for the 1.5 TDI, the new Volkswagen Polo is priced at a premium.
It doesnt look fast. It doesnt have to. After all, the Volkswagen Polo has always been the good, understated family car. So when the Polo was launched in India back in 2009, the company sold it on its strengths including solid build, well-put-together and spacious interiors, and the German brand value. Then, in 2013, Volkswagen did something different. It started planting in the Polo more powerful enginesfirst the 1.2-litre TSI and then the 1.6-litre TDI. What next, an all-new diesel engine and a look-fast body.


The changes to the exterior of the Polo are subtle yet extensive. It gets a new front grille and a redesigned front bumper that now comes with integrated fog lamps and cornering lights. The spic-and-span headlamps especially attract attention. The rear bumper has also been redesigned and it now gets integrated licence-plate carrier and reflectors. There are minute changes to the tail-lamps also. The car gets new wheel covers and, on the Highline version, new 15-inch alloy wheels. But the new Polo doesnt get daytime running lights or blinkers on rear-view mirrors. The Polo was always a smart-looking car, and these updates make it look even more upmarket.


Move inside and what you will immediately notice is the flat-bottom steering wheel which, in fact, gives the Polos cabin a new identity. Other changes include new fabrics for seat upholstery and a silver-painted centre console. The AC vents, two DIN audio system and climate control system get a metallic surround and the audio system now gets Bluetooth, aux-in and USB compatibility and memory card slots. The display in the centre of the instrument panel is now white in colour from the earlier red and the fonts are bigger, more readable. A nice touch is that when you open any door, the footwell also lights up, enhancing visibility in the cabin. Airbags are a standard equipment on all versions of the new Polo. While all the seats are pretty comfortable, the rear seating area still is cramped and cannot easily seat three adults. But what truly stands out is interior fit-and-finishthe attention to detail is so minute that not one thing in the cabin seems out of place. The boot is large enough for its class.


While the petrol engine is 1.2-litre MPI that produces a maximum power of 75ps@5400 rpm and a torque of 110Nm@3750 rpm, the all-new diesel engine is a 1.5-litre TDI unit that produces a healthy 90ps@4200 rpm of power and a torque of 230Nm@1500-2500 rpm.


In not many cars the effect of the turbocharger kicking in is that delightful, or exciting. In fact, in some cars it is not even noticeable. I drove the Polo powered by the new 1.5-litre TDI diesel engine and, as I am writing this, I still feel the kick I got every time the engine speed crossed 1800 rpm. (At 1800 rpm the turbo comes in and simply shoots the car ahead.) On an open highway, the torque of 230Nm ensures that overtaking is never a problem. The diesel Polo goes from 0-100 kmph in about 12 seconds and has a company-claimed fuel-efficiency of 20.14 kmpl. The new Polo behaves well even on bad roads and doesnt tend to crash through potholes. Even though it is a diesel, the cabin remains a quiet place, so good is the insulation. The new steering wheel not only looks good, it has a lot of feel to it and offers you much better feedback than before. The new car feels very planted even when you are doing speeds above 120 kmph. And while we didnt drive the petrol model, we believe that too will have almost similar driving habits.


For Rs 4.99-6.07 lakh for the 1.2 MPI, and Rs 6.27-7.37 lakh for the 1.5 TDI (ex-showroom, Delhi), the car is priced at a premium. Yes. it is far more attractive, better to drive, handles well, gets a cosseting cabin, and the new 1.5-litre TDI unit is a gem, but then the competition is also moving onthe Elite i20, for instance, offers more features and the Swift appears to be better value for money. But for the discerning who knows his wheels, the Polo makes perfect sense.