The 2020 Volkswagen Polo came in at the start of this year with a mild facelift and a petrol engine option only. The brand's 1.2-litre TSI engine has been replaced by a new and powerful 1.0-litre TSI engine that comes mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Here we tested the former to be able to list down the five things that make it a good product and two that could have added more value to it.
1. Build quality
This well-proportioned, smart-looking hatchback has not only been appreciated for its timeless design but also for its European feel and solid build. It still continues with the minimal cosmetic design. Be it on the exterior or the interior, all of it clearly speaks of German engineering and build quality. One prime reason why prospective buyers consider this premium hatchback.
2. High on safety
The Polo also remains to be one of the safest hatchbacks with a four-star adult safety rating from Global NCAP. Not many cars in this segment have managed to get this high a rating. It even has a three-star rating for child occupancy. It's good that Indian buyers have started prioritising safety, which automatically brings the Polo up in their consideration list.
3. Brisk performance
Downsizing the engine may have given an impression that the Polo has lost its charm, but that's not really the case. This 1.0-litre TSI motor with 109bhp of power and 175Nm of torque continues to put up a thrilling performance with impressive timings (0-100kmph sprint in 9.13 seconds). And despite it being a three-cylinder unit, it remains fairly silent for the most part. Even under full acceleration, it lacks vibrations inside or any harshness. In fact, the audible engine note complements the quick progress it makes in moving ahead.
4. Good to drive
The Polo also remains to be one of the nicest hatchbacks to drive. It's quite exciting indeed with a crisp steering, good manoeuvrability in tight city lanes, and feels planted and rock stable at high speeds with predictable mannerisms. You will surely prioritise fun over the car's driving range maximisation.
5. Handles well
Responses from its chassis are also ones that can be easily judged. And with high levels of grip, you have enough confidence to push the car hard. The suspension settings are not soft and hence there's not much of a noticeable lean under hard cornering. Even the ride is pliant and well-damped. The car feels very agile despite not feeling and being lighter on its feet. Still very secure and stable at faster speeds.
1. Age-old styling
However neat, classy, and good-looking the Polo might be, it's an age-old design now. It's a more than 10 years old styling and now doesn't feel accepted as the new-gen Polo is already on sale in other markets. This current stickering job on its exterior isn't good enough to build up interest in Indians who now prefer new and good-looking cars.
2. No new features
The old-school styling approach might still attract people with fine taste, but still not encapsulate them when there's nothing new to offer. Keep the gimmicks aside, the Polo still misses out on features that have become more of a necessity than a luxury. The absence of a reversing camera, boot light, split rear seat, rear centre armrest, keyless-entry, push-button engine start, digital instrument cluster, DRLs, projector headlamps, etc. is quite conspicuous due to its high asking price amongst the competition.
This latest iteration of the Polo helped VW complete its transition to a 100 per cent transformation to a BS6 portfolio. It still remains to be a good blend of compact proportions, good fit and finish, exciting performance from its engine, good driveability, and a comfy ride. With no major price change across its trims, Volkswagen fans still prefer this car despite the modern approach used by other manufacturers with new-age hatchbacks.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi