Review: New Volkswagen Polo

Posted by Girish Karkera at 06:56 am on Wednesday July 16, 2014

Five years after its launch in India, it is time for Volkswagen’s handsome hatchback to get a mid-life update. And typically with all such model updates, the Polo gets minimalist visual changes and instead gets a bigger engine under the hood.

The unit has been borrowed from the GT TDI, Polo’s top-of-the-line diesel launched last year. However it has been downsized by around 100cc and is now a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit. Power is also down by around a dozen horses to 88bhp. But don’t be misled by the whole downsizing business because this engine replaces the older 3-pot, which was not necessarily quick. What comes to the Polo’s aid is the 230Nm giving it plenty of mid-range torque that's great on the move. The turbo comes in just over 1,800rpm, and it really comes in fast, which may prove a bit of an irritant in stop-and-go traffic. What doesn't help is the heavy clutch. The engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox that has a notchy shift feel, but throws are short.

On the outside, the Polo gets new bumpers, both front and rear. There is now a thin chrome strip on the lower end of the grille and one running across the front bumper. Thankfully, VW hasn’t fallen to the so-called Indian chrome fetish, and kept it to a minimum, making sure the Polo still is one of the smartest-looking cars in the segment. It even gets more upmarket-looking 10-spoke alloy wheels.

Inside, the most noticeable change is the all-new flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in leather. It now has steering controls on both sides. The rest of the layout is pretty much the same, with VW only playing with the colours of the plastics. All interior trim looks robustly fastened and is quite useful with enough storage space of all types.

Where you appreciate the Polo most is on the move. Find a decent stretch of a road, push the car and it is more than happy to go. Dynamically, it is quite sorted. Push the car into a high-speed corner and roll is minimal. Ride is firm but the car feels planted on the road. Steering is a bit heavy but all of these manage to give the Polo a big car feel as speed builds up.

The Polo 1.5 TDI will start at an on-road price of Rs 7.25 lakh and go upto Rs 8.5 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) for the top-of-the-line variant. When it comes to premium hatches, the Polo is now right up there as it now does away with its biggest grouse – power. It may not get any design changes but then, the Polo never needed it. Volkswagen has managed to update the essential bits on the car, which should help it fight the new Hyundai i20 when it reaches Indian showrooms.

The numbers
1498cc, diesel, 88bhp, 230Nm, 5M, FWD, 0-100kph: 13.6s, Max speed: 160kph, 12.6kpl (city), 16.5kpl (highway)

The verdict
One of the most highway-friendly hatchbacks on our roads, now with a powerful, more efficient engine to match.

TAGS// polo, volkswagen

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