The Volkswagen Polo has been an eminent face in the premium hatchback segment of the Indian car market for a decade now. In that time it has gone through a steady stream of updates with the car you see in the pictures being the latest round.
While these are significant updates, is the Polo still relevant especially when you consider that its closest rivals are a generation ahead? We will answer that by telling you five things that we liked about the updated Polo diesel and two things that we didn’t.
This generation of the Volkswagen Polo was introduced back in 2010 and it has soldiered on with subtle tweaks and updates. The design has aged well and it is still a handsome car. Now with the GT trim package being offered even for the diesel, it has gained a sporty look too.
The face is dominated by the GTI-esque front bumper with a black front skirt and honeycomb mesh grille. In profile, it gets new 16-inch wheels, blacked-out ORVMs and a side skirt. The rear gets a new black spoiler, a reworked bumper and tail lamps. There are GT badges in the front and rear and all the styling is a bit understated but uplifting for the car.
Like the exterior, the cabin too has received some mild updates as a part of the deal. There is no change in the layout and it is mostly the minor details that have got a refresh. The Polo has always had an understated appearance not just on the outside but in the cabin too. It’s an all-black affair with chrome inserts. The major interior highlight is the legendary tartan checked upholstery from the more powerful GTI model. It is a good example of a car that’s aimed at the self-driven buyer with the front seats offering good support and everything being laid out within arm’s reach.
3. Infotainment System
When it comes to interfaces and infotainment systems, the Germans are hard to beat. Their emphasis on quick routes to various functions and colourful bright interfaces makes it one of the best in the market today. This update to the infotainment system brings in a large list of features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, inbuilt apps and Mirror link as a part of the package.
4. Tried and tested diesel Engine
The Polo was always known for its brilliant diesel engine and we’re glad it remains unchanged in the updated car. You get a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit that produces 108bhp and 250Nm of torque. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. There is some lag under the 2000rpm mark but once the turbo spools up, the punch is linear and continuous. Once you are in the zone, the in-gear acceleration is impressive and quick overtakes are achieved with just a little bit of effort. However, it’s a noisy engine and has a very audible clatter even at idle. The faster you go, the louder the clatter becomes and this combined with the wind noise takes some time in terms of adjustment.
5. Ride and Handling
We’ve always loved the way Volkswagens have responded when it comes to the ride and handling balance and the Polo’s no different. While Volkswagen may have updated the car in terms of looks and some of the features, its underpinnings remain the same as before. The Polo GT TDI sports larger wheels than the standard car and this has made the ride slightly firmer than expected but it is pliant and manages to absorb most that comes in its path. Handling is excellent for the segment with quick turn-in and good steering feel.
1. Insufficient feature list
The Polo at one point of time was right up there with the competition in terms of what was on offer in the cabin but today it has fallen behind. The Polo, even in this top-spec GT trim, lacks a start-stop button, reverse camera, automatic headlamps, DRLs or LED lighting. What’s more, the quality of plastic on many of the touch surfaces are hard wearing with grainy textures.
2. Cramped rear cabin
This is one of the major sore spots of Polo’s design. The space at the rear is at best acceptable and falls more so behind when you look at the competition. The seats are quite flat and do not offer much in terms of back or under-thigh support. There is no central armrest, rear AC vent, or even useable bottle holders in the door pockets. The boot at 295-litres is quite small compared to the rivals.
The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is no doubt the driver’s car of the segment. It’s clattery but the torque-heavy diesel engine offers good performance and efficiency. The car is also a good handler offering a lot in terms of the fun-to-drive factor. However, it is steeply-priced, lacks a lot of equipment and the rear seats are inadequate when compared to the competition.