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 CompetitionVolkswagen Jetta
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.
The Jetta was launched by Volkswagen in India around the middle of 2008. It marked the manufacturer’s entry into the D segment car market. It is essentially a notchback based on the Golf platform. In fact, it’s Golf with an extended boot. Spanning over five generations, around 8 million units of the Jetta have been produced till date. It is VW’s most successful car model in US and Canada. With the launch of the Jetta, VW intended to script a success story in India too. The Jetta hasn’t taken off in a big way in India though. The premium levied by VW on the Jetta is one of the main reasons holding prospective customers back from putting their money down on one.
Design and Features
In terms of design the Jetta has clearly relied on typical VW styling cues. The neat clean lines and perfectly proportionate execution of design makes it appealing to Indian tastes. It is one of the most conservatively designed cars in the market. From whichever angle one might look at it, this car fails in being offensive to the human eye. Make no mistake: The Jetta by no standards is a bland looker’ as it exudes sophistication, class, grace and taste unmatched by its competitors.
The Jetta is offered to buyers in three variants namely the 1.6 liter Trendline, 1.9 TDI Trendline and 1.9 TDI Comfortline. The Trendline variants come equipped with a host of features including 6 airbags, ABS, immobilizer, 8 speaker MP3/CD player audio system with aux-in facility, electronically adjustable/heated and indicator integrated door mirrors, height adjustable driver’s seat, central locking, halogen headlamps, LED tail lamps, and galvanized body to name a few. The 1.9 Comfortline gets ESP, traction control, cruise control, paddle shifts, rain sensor wipers, Vienna leather seat upholstery, and an option of a six speed DSG gearbox in addition to the above features of the Trendline variants.
Driving abilities and Comfort
A short spin in it makes one aware that the Jetta is vying for the ’drivers car tag’. Driving this car is a fun experience. The handling prowess of this car is reminiscent of typical European saloon cars. The suspension setup aids the driving dynamics of this car. Further help in this department is extended by the wide 205/55 section tyres that the Jetta sports on 16’ alloys. The electro-mechanical power assisted steering offers loads of feel and is precise. On straight roads the car gives a well planted feedback. The driving abilities of the Jetta egg you on to indulge in spirited cornering on ghat sections.
Irrespective of whether you occupy the driver’s seat or the rear one, the Jetta doesn’t disappoint with respect to ride quality. An independent multi-link suspension at the rear ensures a smooth ride at high speeds. At low speeds it’s the opposite though. The slightly stiff suspension setup keeps the passengers updated about the road surface they are driving on. The ride quality is definitely not in the league of its rivals. The Jetta is much better off at satisfying your corner cravings.
The Jetta is offered to buyers with a petrol and diesel engine options. The petrol variant gets powered by 1.6 liter engine which produces a max power of 102PS@5600rpm and max torque of 148NM@3800rpm. The 1.9 liter TDI engine which powers the diesel variant utilizes ’Pump Duse’ direct injection technology to push out a max power of 105PS@4000rpm and max torque of 250Nm@1900rpm. Both the engines have a four cylinder configuration. Volkswagen claims a 0-100 timing of 12.2 seconds for the petrol and 11.9 seconds for the diesel variant. Both the variants are capable of attaining a top speed close to 186kph.
The 1.6 Trendline is priced at around Rs.14.7 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) while the 1.9 Trendline and Comfortline variants retail for around Rs.16 and 19 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) respectively. Its competitors include the Toyota Corolla Altis, Skoda Laura, and the Honda Civic. In comparison to its rivals, the Jetta is one of the best executive cars in its segment and a well-rounded product. Its European finesse cannot be matched by its ’value for money’ Japanese rivals.