Our obsession with kmpl instead of kmph has meant that hot hatchbacks have never quite caught on in our market. Many would remember the Fiat Palio 1.6 rather fondly but thanks to its thirst it never became a hit. That is because there are many out there who want the performance but not the high fuel bills. Volkswagen and Skoda had introduced the 1.6 petrol in their small cars to make the enthusiasts happy but unfortunately there were not many and thus the need of the hour was the inclusion of new technology so that the thrills would be available but without the spills.
Volkswagen had answered that with the Polo GT TSI which has a turbocharged petrol engine and a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox and as a result it has been a decent success too! Now though Volkswagen has further expaned the Polo range with the GT TDI. Both the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and the TDI have given the Polo a level of performance it always deserved. So now let us take a closer look at how the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI drives and decipher this new diesel sipping hot hatch.
The main talking point of course is what you find under the bonnet and here there is a 1.6 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which makes 104 bhp and 250 Nm of torque. So in essence the bigger diesel engine from the Vento has finally been shoehorned into the Polo. Putting this engine has meant that it is heaver than the Polo GT TSI but as expected is lighter than the Vento diesel which should mean better performance.
Start it up and the GT TDI instantly feels more refined than the smaller 1.2 diesel but the bigger surprise awaits when you floor the throttle. Performance for the want of a better word is excellent and makes you wonder why would anyone buy the smaller engined diesel Polo now. There is plently of lag free performance to be accessed here and it feels very quick indeed. Unlike the smaller engined diesel Polo it does not feel breathless and the strong performance continues throughout though it does get a bit vocal.
Now unlike the GT TSI, the GT TDI gets only a 5-speed manual gearbox which is not as smooth as the one on the manual 1.2 petrol. Still you do not have to use it that much as thanks to the generous amounts of torque, performance is available at any gear and you do have to constantly downshift at all.
Fuel Economy, Ride and Handling
A plus side to the GT TDI is that even after driving it hard the efficiency does not drop- something you can't say about the GT TSI. While the ARAI-certified figure is 19.78 kmpl we got 14-15 kmpl. When it comes to ride and handling it is pretty much similar to the other Polo variants.
Now VW could have done a sportier suspension set-up which to be honest would have benefited this car a lot but I guess VW did not want to narrow down its customer base. The same goes for the steering which though direct lacks the feedback you want. Brakes worked well under hard use though they do need a firm push to reduce the big speeds in a hurry.
Price and Value
The Polo GT TDI is priced at Rs 8.08 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) which means it is slightly more expensive than the GT TSI ( GT TDI does not get excise benefits due to engine size) but is massively cheaper than the Vento diesel (over Rs 2 lakh) and unless you need the boot space or need to be chauffeured the GT TDI makes more sense.
The GT TDI in top of the line Highline trim gets all the features like smoked headlamps, 15 inch alloys, dual front airbags, ABS, climate control, aluminium pedals, audio system with USB and 4 speakers, steering controls and Bluetooth. Plus the cabin reeks of quality and is a nice place to be in. In comparison to the GT TSI you do not get ESP and of course that 7-speed autobox.
The GT TDI is an impressive car as finally the Polo diesel has the performance to match those good looks. The engine offers strong performance plus thanks to the torque it is also easy to drive in the city. It is the most fun to drive diesel hatch and it is worth the price. In-fact we would choose this over the GT TSI because its faster and we had more fun with it. Overall it is one of the best buys under Rs 10 lakh.
Words- Somnath Chatterjee Photography-Rajeev Bhendwal