Volkswagen recently introduced a facelifted Polo as well as Vento. The Polo-Vento combine sells around 1200 units in a month. The duo have soldiered on for more than 10 years with a design that has vastly remained unchanged. In fact, the Polo line managed to post a growth in sales at a time when every other carmaker in the country reported decline in sales. With this update, let's see what has changed and in the process revisit the driving dynamics of the Volkswagen Polo facelift.
This seems to be an ageless design. Much like how the Beetle has been for VW. The updated Volkswagen Polo's bumpers have been made pedestrian protection compliant according to the new safety norms. The headlights have new internals, the honeycombe grille looks upmarket while the alloy wheels are refreshed too. The black mirror caps look good; a nice contrast to the red colour that our test car had. New side skirts too are part of the deal. Volkswagen has also added LED elements for the tail lights and this black spoiler that you see is exclusive to the GT Line.
Inside, things vastly remain the same. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports both Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay is present. Moreover, the glovebox is cooled as well and the inner rear view mirror is an auto dimming unit. There are decent storage spaces in the cabin too. However, the seats do leave some room for improvement as they are a tad thin and long journeys in the Polo might not be comfortable for people with a large body frame. Similarly the space at the rear is also a bit tight for three as well as taller passengers and the boot space is also down from what the competition offers.
Engine and transmission
The Polo GT has a higher strung 110hp/250Nm, 4-pot diesel engine. Currently, it is available in BS-IV trim, but a BS-VI version can be expected too. The engine is sufficiently refined but at revs above 3,500rpm, it is audible. This 5-speed gearbox is slick but isn't as some other cars in the segment. This being said, the clutch is on the harder side but then not as much as what it was before. The clutch travel action too is a tad snappy and you got to be a bit careful in traffic.
We loved the Polo driving experience. While the power delivery is very linear at the bottom end, there is a surge of torque as you cross 2,500rpm. You get a small shove in the back as the Polo's engine pulls with gusto. It is also decently free revving engine and even at lower speeds, too many downshifts aren't called for. In the two days of testing, the car gave us a mileage of 15.5kmpl which is a mix of city as well as highway runs. VW though claims 20kmpl fuel efficiency.
Ride and handling
The ride is tuned to be on the stiffer side. At city speeds, the suspension absorbs road irregularities nicely, even with five people on board. As the speeds rise, the Polo's suspension becomes a tad noisier. The steering is decently light but we wish the surface had better grooves because more often than not, your hands tend to slip at low speed. This is more when you try one-hand 10kmph manuevers. Nothing that a steering cover cannot solve. What you will absolutely love is the handling. High or low speeds, the Polo will plant a metre wide grin on your face. It's nimble dimensions mean that placing it is easy in tight spots. On the same note, Volkswagen doesn't offer a rear view camera as standard with the GT line. Further, the stylish mirrors are small and hence vision, especially out of the left one leaves a lot to be desired. Even the rear windscreen is a bit small for taller drivers.
At an ex-showroom price of Rs 9.9 lakh, the Polo GT TDI doesn't offer the best value for money considering that modern rivals like the Elite i20 or Baleno offer far more for less. Age is catching up with this car and from what we hear, VW is planning an all-new Polo specifically for the emerging markets like ours, based on the MQB AO-IN platform. This should be out sometime next year. Coming to the present Polo diesel, it is a nice car to drive and the ownership experience has been enhanced with a five year warranty as well as three free services and a lot of other value adds. Dealers too are throwing in discounts as well as festive season offers of up to Rs 1 lakh. If you want an enjoyable car to drive in this segment, the current-generation Volkswagen Polo it is.
Images by Bhaskar Goswami and Lijo Mathai