Volkswagen has given the Polo a much needed update and this is a major one as its not some minor styling change but a change of heart as well as there is a new diesel engine offered here. This launch could not have come at a better time as the Polo still remains the backbone of the Volkswagen sales in India and in light of upcoming competition the Polo is now armed and ready to battle.
In essence the Polo has been given styling tweaks inside out and the diesel line-up has been changed. Gone is the old diesel engine replaced by a 1.5 unit which comes in two power outputs of 89 bhp and 104 bhp (GT TDI). The petrol range remains untouched. While the new Polo in GT TSI, GT TDI and Cross Polo form will be available from early September, you can now buy the new Polo with the 1.2 petrol and the new 1.5 diesel. We have driven the 1.5 diesel and here is what we think.
The Polo has been around for some time now yet its timeless design shows no signs of ageing. There are no quirky lines instead its simple and handsome styling has just been updated slightly by Volkswagen. The facelifted Polo is identified from the front where majority of the changes are applied.
At the front you will see a new grille (with a chrome strip at the bottom), new headlamps with neat detailing, new front bumper with integrated fog lamps and cornering lights. The two chrome strips at the front do give it a premium touch.
Walk around and the side view is the same except for new 15 inch alloys (Highline trim- rest of range gets new wheel covers) while the rear gets some hard-to-spot changes like new rear bumper with integrated license-plate carrier and reflectors.
As you can also see on our test car, there is a new orange colour which is attractive and makes it stand out from the crowd. If you are buying one, we recommend this colour. As always things like the build quality and paint quality are fantastic and easily class best.
Get in and you will marvel at the quality and tough build just like in the old Polo but what has changed is that Volkswagen has made the cabin more premium. The changes include new upholstery, flat bottom steering wheel, white instruments and a silver-painted centre console.
Worth pointing out is the new steering wheel (with new controls) which feels so much better than the previous Polo and also looks like a million bucks. Equipment levels are good and let us not forget that airbags are now fitted as standard equipment on all versions of the Polo.
Space is the same as before and that means it continues to feel cramped at the rear. Still for sheer quality and the feel-good factor you cannot get a better cabin as the interior looks and feels more expensive that it actually is.
As we have said before this is where VW has given the Polo the biggest change. A change that that was needed from the start. You see the old 1.2 diesel suffered from a lack of power and turbolag all of which disappears in the new engine. This new 1.5 diesel engine makes 89 bhp and 230Nm of torque and immediately it impresses from the start.
Refinement goes up several notches and so does performance. In traffic thanks to healthy amount of torque, it is responsive at low rpms and you can potter along in third gear all day and not downshift that much.
It is so much easy to drive but once in the highway when given the full beans the motor impresses even more with a strong dose of performance. You do not have the sudden burst and explosive performance like the previous GT TDI but it is a world away from the 1.2 diesel. The 5-speed manual has precise shifts but the clutch is heavy.
Along with the new engine the ride and handling is now better thanks to tweaked suspension. It rides better than before and the steering has more heft to it than the overly light steering of the previous Polo.
The brakes do a better job also and stability/cornering is more like the GT TDI where you feel more eagerness would have been better but compared to rivals it has no doubt a good ride/handling combo. You do not have to pay a price in exchange for the new found performance as the 20.14 kmpl efficiency is very good.
With a starting price of Rs 4.99 lakh for the base petrol and Rs 6.27 lakh for the base diesel there is no doubt that the Polo is now much better than before. But to us the cosmetic tweaks seem more like a bonus when compared to the new diesel engine which frankly changes the equation for the Polo.
You see for many the previous GT TDI was too expensive and the 1.2 was too underpowered which is where this comes in. The diesel Polo then at this moment is quite simply the best premium hatch that you can buy.