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David Khoo sucks it in to see if he can live with a minty Polo over the weekend...
Singapore - We're pretty familiar with good things coming in small packages; in fact smaller cars often have the most innovative configurations – look to the Japanese kei-cars, or even the Honda Jazz for instance for examples of truly inspired cabin packaging solutions. Compact hatchbacks tend to have a few things going for them: frugal petrol consumption and the ability to swallow a deceptive amount of people and barang-barang.
We like the minty-blue colour of the demo car (goes well with its 'BlueMotion' credentials!) and there's just enough space in the back to squeeze in a baby-seat for the kiddo, who tags-along to pick it up from the showroom. These cars are targeted at both young families, as well as first-cars for younger novice drivers since there is good enough space from the 2470mm wheelbase Polo to carry their friends and just enough zest to keep things interesting, yet not get them into trouble.
In fact, it's no longer acceptable for such small cars to be bare-bones when it comes to amenities as well. The Polo packs a decent wallop in terms of assistance and infotainment systems, as well as a punchy yet economical 1.2-litre TSI engine. All the car's music and car-related settings are accessed via a five-inch touchscreen, which includes AUX-IN and SD interfaces.
There's even a driving style analyser mode that monitors the driver's driving behaviour and helps with 'suggestions' on how to drive more economically, which some may find to be a little too gimmicky.
There's decent enough poke from the little tyke in city driving, but we do miss a set of steering-wheel mounted shifter paddles for quicker action. In 'S' it was holding on to the gears for too long, whereas 'D' saw a tendency for the gearbox to shift-up too quickly to respond to the driver's demand for brisk acceleration during opportunities for quick overtaking. With the modest performance on tap, it would have been great to have been able to flick the paddle to downshift immediately, without fiddling around with the gear-lever into '+/-' mode – in city traffic where we expect the Polo to spend a lot of its time, the gaps come quickly and infrequently, so exploiting them should come easily.
Eventually, you can either capitulate and settle into the Polo's chill groove, or continue to try flogging it, which doesn't yield much satisfaction. If you've chosen the former (as we learnt to do over the 148km we covered in the car), you quickly learn how to build-up speed strategically, which allows the car to weave and bob effortlessly within the rhythm of peak traffic.
However, we had to play Devil's Advocate by piling in a couple of guys who are as big as the Polo is small, you know, just to see if the cheerful Polo could accommodate above-average Asians... PHOTOS: VW / DK
VW POLO 1.2 TSI (DSG)
Engine: 1197cc, inline4, FWD
Transmission: 7spd DSG
Top speed: 184km/h
Fuel consumption: 4.7l/100km
Price (at time of writing): S$119,300
Agent: Volkswagen Centre Singapore
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