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Volkswagen Polo


The Polo is the most important model in the VW stable for India. We drive it in Sardinia.
When the Polo goes on sale in 2010, it will be the last among the spate of premium hatchback launches. It will face stiff competition no doubt, but when you come late to the party you certainly get noticed. The new Polo won’t have a problem standing out from the pack. It may not have the flair of the Grande Punto or the futuristic shape of the Jazz but it looks every bit a VW with its strong haunches and solid look. The typically VW grille and stunning headlights only add to the appeal. Whichever way you look at it, the Polo looks great.

The engine options aren’t as exciting to begin with. At launch, there will be just a base model with a 1.2-litre petrol similar to the Fabia’s but developing 75bhp. Within a few months, more thrilling engine options will come which will include a state-of-the-art 1.2 TDI diesel developing 75bhp and a potent 1.2 TSI petrol developing a stonking 104bhp.

Unfortunately, neither the 1.2 TDI nor the base 1.2 petrol options were available in the Polos I drove during the international media drive in Sardinia (the European Polos get bigger and more powerful diesels), so it was hard to judge the Polo in the right perspective. But giving me a taste of things to come was the compact and brilliant 1.2 TSI motor. Smooth, torquey and with the promise of great fuel efficiency, this motor is just what we need in India. This direct-injection, turbo-petrol gives the Polo effortless performance. Floor the throttle pedal in any gear and there’s a delicious surge forward, which is unrelenting till you hit the rev limiter. The European models come with a DSG gearbox option that would be too expensive for the India car, which will come with only a manual.

The steering is pretty quick, the Polo diving into corners with an eagerness that will delight enthusiasts. The suspension works with a quiet efficiency and the ride is nothing short of incredible. But I must add that the smooth roads around this Mediterranean island can be quite misleading. However, I am sure Indian roads are unlikely to pose a problem for the Polo which, like most Volkswagens, will delight owners with its impeccable road manners.

The interiors are again typically VW. Plain-looking and functional and built with hard-wearing materials. I felt that some of the plastics could be richer but will reserve my judgement until we get the India-spec cars with the must-have beige interiors. The front seats are supremely comfy with a wide range of adjustments but it’s not that spacious at the back. The sloping roof line eats into headroom and there’s a cramped feeling in the rear which doesn’t bode well for a premium hatch where all-round passenger room is pretty important. Boot space is brilliant and the seats split too.

Heavy localisation is going to ensure that the Polo is aggressively priced. We expect the base model to retail for under Rs 5 lakh with the top-end model touching Rs 7 lakh. At last, quality can also be affordable.

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