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'DNA' Drive: Polo Fresh

Friday, 30 November 2012 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna
Volkswagen's bestseller was getting a bit long in the tooth. so the carmaker has improved an already good thing.

Volkswagen Polo
Price: Rs4.91-6.98 lakh,
ex-showroom Delhi
Kitna deti hai? 13-17 kmpl in our test
Engine: 1199cc, I-3, Turbo diesel
Max power: 73 bhp@4200 rpm
Max torque:180 nm@2000 rpm
Good for family of 4/5: Yes
Dimensions in feet:
L/W/H: 13.02/5.51/4.76
Fuel tank: 45 litre
Full tank good for: 585-765 km
Suspension: MacPherson Strut, Torsion Beam

Among the Swifts and the Getzs of the market, one of the first truly European hatches to come into India was the Skoda Fabia. Then, the one the Fabia was based on made an entry — the Polo.

Now, a few years on, the competition has undergone significant upgrades, and Volkswagen isn’t one to leave its products lagging, so the Polo gets its share of the limelight with a slew of upgrades.

Looks
In the looks department, the Polo is quite a hot hatch, with sharp lines and creases. The clean and crisp lines ensure that the design isn’t going to look dated anytime soon. But despite that, there have been some tweaks made to the design to keep it looking fresh.

At the front, there’s blacked out headlamps, which lend the Polo some aggression that it lacked earlier. In bright red, with those headlamps, looking at it in the rear view mirror, you’ll be willing to move over and let it pass.

Some minor tweaks to the lower airdam and the rear bumper design take care of the rest of the exterior changes. Now, in the updated Polo, as dealer fitted accessories, there’s the addition of parking sensors at the back to help you out in tight situations and there’s also the option of getting a rear view camera fitted, if need be.

Interiors
It’s pretty much the same story on the inside too, there is new fabric here and the addition of an integrated music system with controls on the steering wheel. All the buttons and switchgear is of very high quality and every knob you turn clicks with a certain Teutonic precision that puts you at ease.

There’s the additional option of getting a GPS system added on or a Bluetooth speaker system. Now, both of these systems are aftermarket units that aren’t fully integrated into the car itself, but are just adornments. Usage is pretty easy, but it’s not at all ideal as a fully integrated unit. But then again, it at least comes with these dealer-fitted options.

On the features front, the Polo now feels pretty much up to speed with the rest of the competition.

The only gripe we have with the Polo is the rear seat space or lack thereof. For only three people, the Polo is a great car, but with four or five people inside, it starts feeling really cramped. This is something the Fabia managed to get right, so the Polo could learn a thing or two from its Czech cousin.

Performance

The Polo comes with a choice of three engines, a pair of 1.2-litre petrol and diesel engines and a hot hatch version with a 1.6-litre petrol engine making upwards of 100 bhp, which is quite the bomb. Our test car came with the letters TDI on the back though, which meant that it sports a 1.2-litre three-pot turbo diesel engine under the hood.

The engine makes a healthy 73 bhp of peak power and a more than sufficient 180 nm of peak torque. Routed through a five-speed gearbox, the engine manages to propel the car to speed pretty quickly.

Initially, there’s a bit of lag as the boost pressure builds up, but after that, it’s smooth sailing alright, with the engine responding to even slight throttle inputs instantaneously. The only downside? Vibrations. By nature, the three-cylinder engine is not particularly well balanced, so as the revs build up, there’s an increased amount of vibrations that are felt in the cabin. Of course, the mild diesel clatter doesn’t help matters either.

Coming to the fuel efficiency, the engine manages to eke out plenty of mileage out of a litre of the slimy stuff. With figures hovering in the range of 13 to 17, there’s no threat to
your wallet just yet.

Ride and handling

Despite being one of the most affordable German offerings in the market, the Polo manages to stave off competition. For starters, the way the car rides gives you immense comfort, especially when treading unknown territory. All the low speed bumps are eaten up by the suspension without transmitting much into the cockpit in the way of noise and harshness.

As the speeds rise though, the Polo really starts to come into its own. High speed bumps and undulations do nothing to unsettle the chassis either, with the Polo sticking to its line pretty steadfastly.

The ride is a little on the rough side though, but it’s nothing you won’t get used to. If you’re in the mood for some fun though, you’ll definitely enjoy the slightly stiff suspension of the direct steering wheel with well weighted feedback. Of course, the lump of iron at the front will act as a ballast, so initial response is a little delayed, but after that, it’ll leave you with a huge grin on your face.

As for the ride at the back, as long as there’s not too many people in the car, the ride stays firm but manageable. Sure, there are better riding cars out there, but there are none that strike the balance that the Polo manages to do with its suspension.

Verdict

So, then, are these updates enough to tide us over till an all-new Polo comes out in 2013? We definitely think so. The only problem with the Polo was that it lacked a few features that the competition had, so with this facelift and some help from the aftermarket, we found that you’ll not be missing any features once you’re onboard. Just a word of warning though, do try out the rear seat before committing to anything, as this is the part of the car that either makes or breaks the car as an option. With good powertrain options and a nice seat of features, the new Polo is ready to them all on.




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