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Review: Volkswagen Cross Polo TDI

Driven September 2013

Review: Volkswagen Cross Polo TDI

In a not-so-typical TopGear fashion, here’s all that you wanted to know about the Volkswagen Cross Polo... in a nutshell. The Cross Polo doesn't come with an off-roading package. The ground clearance is same as before. And its engine is as powerful as the one powering the regular diesel Polo. Plus, all the plastic cladding and silver bits that you see on this hatchback, they come at an additional cost of Rs 65,000 over the Polo TDI Highline. You would ask, what’s the point of this hatchback then? We say, we are still scratching our heads on that one.   

So there it is. All that matters about the Cross Polo is now known to you. But still, if you wish to know more about this pseudo macho Polo hatchback then read on.

As seen in the image above, the visual differences start right from the front. There is a chunkier new front bumper, round fog lamps and a silver chin to differentiate it from the regular Polo. The front grille too is different – it now gets a single chrome slat instead of two. Further separating the Cross Polo from a regular Polo is the plastic cladding running through the length and breadth of the hatchback, which also makes its around 20mm longer and wider than a Polo. A new roof rail, silver coloured wing mirrors and a silver rear diffuser sum up the exterior changes. The ‘Livon’ Titanium black upholstery is the only distinctive element of the Cross Polo’s interior and that’s not saying much. All the added plastic and splashes of silver does make the Cross Polo stand out in the crowd. It looks like a rugged, taller and a more powerful cousin of the otherwise subtle Polo. But this, as we had mentioned earlier, is just an illusion.

Let us explain why. It’s fair to say the claddings give it a rugged look, but then there’s no extra off-the-road action that this Polo is capable of. Identical suspension setup and tyre profile means the ground clearance stays the same at 168mm, which isn’t enough to tackle SUV-grade bad roads. And then the engine – it’s the same 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo-diesel seen in the Polo, developing identical 74bhp and 180Nm of torque. Also, this typical three-pot oil-burner is relatively noisy at idle and the decibels only get higher with increase in revs. The 5-speed manual gearbox too isn’t the smoothest around. The shifts aren’t crisp, and with a greater chunk of power available only after 1800rpm, you need to work through the box often while driving in the city, where the gearbox can be a bit annoying.

Life is much easier on the highway as compared to the city. Once the motor crosses 2000rpm, there is a strong surge in power till the 4500rpm mark after which the power-curve tapers down. Feedback from the steering wheel is good but what impressed us the most is the ride quality; it’s well sorted for most conditions and the Cross Polo makes easy work of the road irregularities. However, this comes at the price of excessive body roll and that is a bit of a letdown.  

But what’s more worrying is the price tag. At Rs 9.21 lakh, on-road, Mumbai, the Cross Polo is Rs 65,000 more than the similarly specced TDI Highline. You then start wondering what is in the Cross Polo that the German giant is asking a premium for. Mechanical bits are unchanged, feature list is as colourful as a Polo Highline and looking through our eyes, the Polo looks way better than the Cross Polo. So if exclusivity is what you are looking out for then the GT TSI makes for a far better choice which is just Rs 15,000 dearer to the Cross Polo. Plus, it’s loaded with new age technology.

The numbers
3-cyl, 1,199cc turbo diesel, 74bhp, 180Nm, 5M, 0-100: 15.66sec, 30-50kph in 3rd: 3.74sec, 30-50 in 4th: 6.78sec, 50-70 in 5th: 7.18sec, 0-80kph in 2.53sec/25.88m, city kpl: 13.2, highway kpl: 18.7, 1155kg, 45 litres fuel tank, Rs 9.21 lakh, on-road, Mumbai

The verdict

We are not too sure how to call it a pointless hatchback without actually calling it a pointless hatchback. The plastic cladding only makes it looks tough, but deep down inside it’s just a Polo with beefier-looking exterior bits. Unnecessarily expensive and offers nothing great in return. Go for the GT TSI instead.

 



Devesh Shobha

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