The Polo marks Volkswagen’s foray into the hatchback segment. It’s no secret that currently India is one of the two emerging car markets globally with the hatchback segment constituting around 70% of it. Since the past three years VW was planning to enter this profitable segment. The Polo was expected to be launched at the 2010 Auto Expo. Instead, VW opted to launch it in the last week of February. The manufacturer has high hopes from the Polo and its goal of gaining a 10% market share by 2015 rests squarely on it.
Design and Features
VW has consciously refrained from making the Indian spec Polo resemble its European counterpart. The car sold here does not feature the smoked headlamps or the ORVM integrated indicators of the European model. The India spec hatchback gets a Scirocco inspired front end with big, wide headlamps and fog lamps. The car sports a chunky and muscular look owing to its wide, low stance and flared wheel arches. The overall flow of design is proportionate and not at all offensive. The end result is a subtle, clean design which some people might find it to be a tad too boring. Typical of all VW cars, the Polo too gets high quality interiors.
The petrol and diesel powered Polo are both offered in three variants for buyers to choose from namely Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. The base variants get 14” wheels adorned by wheel caps along with a 6 years anti-corrosion warranty on its galvanized body apart from halogen headlamps, power steering, air conditioning, central locking, front power windows and body colored bumpers as standard. The middle variant gets more features like height adjustment for driver’s seat, rear seat which splits 60:40, body colored door handles and mirrors and power windows at the rear too. The Highline variant comes fully loaded with ABS, front Airbags, 15’ alloy wheels, dashboard integrated music system, adjustable steering and driver’s seat for rake/reach, keyless entry, remote power windows, and fog lamps.
Driving abilities and comfort
Traditionally European cars are known to set benchmarks for rivals in terms of ride and handling characteristics. The Polo stays true to its genes and doesn’t disappoint. Suspension set-up and geometry is perfect to say the least. It also sports Apollo Accelere rubber all round which aids its driving dynamics owing to the high grip on offer. The chassis too is well sorted providing it with superb composure at high speeds. Given its on-road enthusiasm with respect to changing directions the Polo can be tagged as a driver’s car. During spirited cornering there is minimal body roll.
Like all front wheel drive cars the Polo too understeers at the limit but in a predictable fashion. The ride quality is in the league of much bigger cars. Big bumps and potholes do not succeed in unsettling the car easily. One grimace is that the sound made by the rear suspension when its ’hard at work’ filters into the cabin. Also the Electronic Power Steering is a tad too light for our liking.
The Polo is currently offered to buyers with two engine options, petrol and a diesel – both in 1.2-litre capacities. Both the engines not only have the same cubic capacity but also have a three cylinder inline configuration. They churn out the same amount of power too. The petrol engine develops its max power of 77PS@5400rpm and max torque of 110Nm@3750rpm. While the TDI powerplant churns out the same 77PS but at a higher 4200rpm while the max torque of 180NM gets unleashed from upwards of 2000 rpm. On paper the power output does not sound much until you are informed that the Polo weighs in at around 1055kg for the top variant. That’s arms this hatchback with a good power to weight ratio which translates into adequate performance on road. The forte of both the engines is their highly exploitable drivability.
The petrol engine Polo retails in the price bracket of Rs.4.34-5.72 lakhs (ex showroom Delhi). While the diesel engine Polo Is priced from Rs.5.32 lakhs for the base model till Rs.6.7 lakhs for the top end one. It enjoys fierce completion in the form of Hyundai i20, Skoda Fabia, Tata Indica Vista, Fiat Punto, Suzuki Swift and the recently launched Ford Figo. Volkswagen has priced both the Polo variants around the price band of its competitors though its higher than that of the Figo and Drande Punto. VW can claim to justify the high price tag by virtue of the great build quality and top notch German Engineering on offer. Sporting an European hatchback look and offering unmatched levels of overall quality, the Polo fits the profile of a ’driver’s hatchback’. Our only concern is whether VW can deliver on the after sales dealer and service support.