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Long term report: Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDI

June 05, 2014, 07:05 PM IST by Selvin Jose
Car Tested: Polo [2012-2014] , Version: Highline1.2L (D)

Month One

A new car has joined our fleet and we are painting the town red, with a flash red VW Polo 1.2 TDI Highline. The Polo came to us with 3650km and since then it has piled on the miles which now stands at 8000km. I have been a bit greedy with it and have always managed to snap it up on the weekends. In the very first week at work, the car served us to shoot two vehicles and later I took it to receive family from the airport and then to take them around town. 

I haven’t been a big fan of the three-cylinder motor in the Polo 1.2 TDI. I prefer the four-pot in the GT TDI, because it is much better suited to my driving style. But how soon thoughts and perceptions change when you live with a car! I slowly started realising the strengths of this versatile engine. It delivers adequate performance but loses out on the highway where you need to overtake in a jiffy, however, it can maintain triple digit speeds easily. There are a few sore points of this motor: its weak bottom end can be very annoying when driven in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The engine is noisy and the noise doesn’t subside once it reaches optimum temperature either. Nevertheless, it scores on efficiency, I have been driving it sedately and the car has managed to impress me with the figures on the display. The highest so far I have achieved is an indicated 24.4kmpl with the AC on in city driving through mild traffic conditions. It sounds quite surreal, but indeed it has come out with flying colours in this department. 

While the car offers a flexible seating position for drivers of all sizes, there is one minor glitch which can be a sore point on long drives. It doesn’t offer sufficient lumbar support to drivers who like to sit upright. I particularly like the instrument cluster, it looks best at night. Surprisingly, the music system has been acting cranky, maybe it’s my phone as the rest of the staff didn’t face this issue, but it has decent quality to keep the occupants entertained. Being a German car we expected the column stalks to be set according to the left-hand drive markets but, the position of the ORVM adjustment  took a little getting used to. It isn’t oddly placed, but getting the mirrors to move in the intended direction is a hit-or-miss affair for some even a month after the car has been with us. While the features like one-touch down and up for all the windows is nice, it doesn’t get auto folding ORVMs which could have been offered in a car that costs Rs 8.3 lakh on-road in Mumbai. If it seems we are asking for a lot, there are some hatchbacks which cost less than the Polo with this feature.

The manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure for the Polo shod with the Apollo Acceleres is 36psi front and 39psi at the rear. Our car had less than the advised pressure, so I decided to go with the recommendation to find out if it works on our roads. It doesn’t. The ride was too harsh, steering feel was minimal and it didn’t inspire confidence while braking either. I quickly rolled it back to 30psi front and 32psi rear and things returned to normal; the ride became pliant, the steering felt better, and maybe it is a placebo effect but I was happy with the braking as well. 

The Polo with a boot capacity of 280 litre had adequate space for our photographer, shooting equipment and a few bags. We drove it loaded to the gills with luggage and the AC running all the time, at which point the engine struggled at low revs in traffic where the weak bottom-end was further highlighted under load. However, once past 2,000rpm it moves with gusto until 3000rpm. This is the sweet spot of this engine where the turbo is on song and that is where you want to be. So, while it did feel unresponsive at low speeds, it was good on the highways even with four large six-footers and luggage in tow, but it needs to be driven with care. Also the headlamps are adequate with a wide throw, it gets powerful fog lamps which also offer additional illumination if need be, overall it has decent headlights to drive in the dark. 

Our Polo had a problem since the day we received it. This has not much to do with VW’s quality; media cars are usually abused and poorly cared for. As such, our Polo had a niggling noise coming from the steering mount kit. We followed up with the company on this issue and a week later got an appointment to fix it.

VW asked us to get the car to its workshop at Volkswagen Downtown Mumbai in Lalbaugh, Mumbai. It was a little difficult to locate the place, as it is placed oddly and the turnoff from the main road is a very small one. The service staff and representative were courteous, but it took a while for the mechanic to come and have a look at the car. The customer waiting area at the workshop could be better in terms of hospitality and the turnaround time to attend a customer. However, it was the opposite with the car; not only was the noise eradicated within a single day, VW also changed the engine oil, oil filter, the AC filter and air filter as part of the first service. The amount spent for this service was Rs 8,358, which is not bad considering it is an annual service done at 15,000kms or before completion of a year. At that price and with the service being that quick it is certainly a reasonable amount for a car like the Polo when viewed as annual expenses. 


Our Polo is a month old in CarWale and has replaced our Ford Figo which served us well. While we all loved the Figo, the Polo is slowly winning our hearts. We will pile on more miles with the Polo and tell you more about this sturdy little German hatchback in our next report.

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