Volkswagen Polo has always been a great car, yet it never sold to its potential. It is not only a very comfortable car but also the best in its class car when it comes to ride quality and handling balance. The only drawback has been its 1.2-litre three cylinder diesel engine. So, Volkswagen came with GT TDI having 1.6-litre diesel motor from the Vento but as the engine no longer fell under the 1.5-litre mark to qualify for small car excise benefits, pricing went up to around ten lakhs (on-road, Mumbai). Clearly, not many could afford such a car.
Volkswagen recently launched a new Polo hatchback with a larger 1.5 diesel engine. Volkswagen executives are quite optimistic about this big change. But will the new cosmetic upgrades and transformation in powertrain make the new Polo a best-selling car in the premium small car segment? I took a quick ride to find out. Read more in a review.
Style & design
The exteriors are not touched much. Volkswagen has made only some minor changes here which are actually so subtle that you can easily miss them, if not informed. The biggest visual change is probably this head-turning new shade of orange that Polo sports.
At front, the bars of chrome in the grille and in the chin are differently but well executed. Classy detailing can be seen in the headlights and there are new alloys too. Head lamps are given a new bezel design. The dimensions are changed as well. The length and width are nearly the same but Polo's height is increased by 56mm. Surprisingly, this doesn't lead to higher ground clearance which is 3mm lower as per the spec sheet released by Volkswagen.
Changes get even more difficult to spot as you walk around to the back of the Polo. There are beautiful new tail-lights and the bumper is re-designed to give the car a fuller look. The new bumper has a chrome strip which connects a discreet chrome line and the two fog lamps at the bottom of the grille, giving the Polo a premium look. The wheels are new but do not look very different from the previous ones. Apollo's new Alnac tyres are an improvement over the old Aceleres to provide higher grip but the tyre size remains the same as 185/60 R15. Not even a single body panel is changed.
Inside the cabin, a beautiful leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed chunky steering wheel immediately caught my attention. It has some new glossy black inserts, buttons and toggles for trip computer & audio controls. It looks as if it came off Golf. Not only it looks good, it feels good too. The beige and grey two-tone dash brightens the interiors.
The centre console is given a silver garnish and is updated with two DIN audio system, vents & a climate control system. The new audio system comes with Bluetooth, USB, aux-in compatibility as well as memory card slots. In the centre of the instrument panel, there used to be a red display but that is replaced by a white one. The font size was sufficiently big before but is made even bigger to make it more readable.
The seats are given a new fabric. Volkswagen has ensured that the fit and finish is excellent. Even tiny details such as stitching on the seats & the leather-wrapped hand-brake lever show how much attention to detail is given. However, the cabin feels cramped as before and especially at the rear, it isn't comfortable for tall occupants, despite the increase in height. The front seats are quite comfortable but the rear section is completely ignored. There is not much legroom at rear and even the visibility from back is poor.
The new Polo comes with an all-new 1.5 diesel engine. Finally, gone is the wheezy 1.2-litre diesel engine. The new 1.5-litre four cylinder unit is actually a derivative of the 1.6-litre diesel engine found on the Vento but the 1600cc TDI or diesel engine is now downsized to under 1498cc to help the car get an excise cut and thus a lower price tag. It gives a maximum power of 90PS against 75PS and a maximum torque of 230Nm against 180Nm given by the previous engine. The torque flow is flatter as a result of this. Where the older engine's torque peaked at 2000rpm, the new engine gives peak torque at just 1500rpm and it remains flat till 2500rpm. Post 2500rpm, the torque drops but less severely than on the previous engine.
The new engine revs cleanly and it's really smooth when you start the Polo. It is quieter and vibrates less, both at idle and near redline of 5000rpm. Let me add here that redline of 5000rpm is very healthy for a diesel engine. The cabin is well insulated as before.
Riding & handling
The ride quality is impressive. The throttle response is instant and the power delivery is linear. I had driven the earlier Volkswagen Polo as well and the difference I saw in the performance of the two versions is exceptional. The old Polo had good overall ride quality but it had a tendency to crash through bigger potholes. So, the new Polo comes with an altered suspension which is much better at tackling poor roads. Unlike before, it doesn't crash through potholes. It doesn't get affected at all by broken roads so I felt no unpleasant thuds.
The handling feels soft as before but definitely more stable. The Polo grips well but there was a considerable roll at speed. The steering is much heavier and gives more feedback but yet it is not as communicative as it should be.
The clutch is not light and this may disappoint you when stuck in heavy traffic but the good thing is that it won't leave you with a sore left leg. The gearbox feels rubbery at times, especially when shifting from second to third gear.
The brakes are considerably improved. Now, you don't need to exert much force to stop the car quickly. This gives you more confidence on road. The car is not very fast so it is definitely not meant for speed lovers but it is much quicker than the old Polo. While the old one took 16.2 seconds to breach 100kmp, the new version took only 13.1 seconds. Well, this is not bad if you look at the other players in this segment.
While the old Polo returned good 22kmpl, the new Polo gives only 20.1kmpl.
Price & verdict
It looks more attractive and performs considerably well if compared with the older version. It gives you that feel good factor every time you drive it. Priced at Rs 6.27 - 7.37 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi), the new Volkswagen Polo is one of the best sub-ten-lakh-rupees hatchbacks on sale today.
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Once again a great review of Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel car by mentioning all the details about its style, design, Engine, Riding and handling along with its price and your verdict. It will surely going to help many people like who are searching for a review on Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel car.