Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Edition Review: Best Driver’s Hatchback In 2020?

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Much has been said about the Volkswagen Polo and its driving dynamics. Considered to be one of the best driver’s hatchbacks in its class, the Polo TSI recently got an engine update and the folks at Volkswagen downsized the engine to 1.0-litre from 1.2-litre. ‘Downsizing’ is one word which has negative implications in most scenarios, only a rare few having a positive side to it. Polo’s case falls on the latter side.

Engine and performance

Volkswagen might have downsized the engine but that doesn’t mean it has lost its peppiness. In fact, the turbo-petrol motor now makes more power and torque than before. So is the Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI still the best in business, when it comes to driving dynamics?

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The 1.0-litre turbo-petrol mill now makes 100 PS and 175 NM of torque. We are talking about the best performance figures in its segment here. The Polo TSI can hit the 100 kmph mark in less than 10 seconds which is an impressive feat. The turbo-petrol motor has a 3-cylinder configuration. Being a 3-cylinder unit, there are some mild vibrations which can be felt at the pedals but still, it wouldn’t hamper the driving experience because Volkswagen has managed to maintain the refinement levels. If you compare the performance on tap with the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios Turbo, which is Polo’s closest competitor, the Nios makes 10 HP and 3 NM less than the Polo. What works in Nios’ favour is its tall gearing. Slotting the second gear in the Polo won’t let you cross the 100 kmph mark, like the Nios.

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One can experience a mild pull after crossing the 1000 rpm mark. The real fun starts when the turbo gets spooled up nicely after crossing 1500 rpm. Being a driver’s car, you would expect it to have that pronounced kick somewhere in the rev-range to add to the overall drama and the Polo manages to deliver the kick after the tacho crosses the 2500 rpm mark. It doesn’t take a breather until it reaches 6000 rpm and till then, it keeps on pulling. Even after being a performance-oriented motor, the 1.0-litre TSI unit is tractable. What adds to the joy of the driver is the 6-speed manual gearbox. The stick shift is a very slick unit with short throws. ARAI certified fuel efficiency is rated at 18.3 KMPL but the Polo TSI manages to return 13-14 KMPL in the city and around 17 kmpl on the highway.

Ride and handling

When a four-wheeler is tagged as a ‘driver’s car’, performance isn’t the only thing which attributes to it. We witnessed it in the case of Hyundai Grand i10 Nios which is powered by a fun motor but its driving dynamics try hard to keep up.  This isn’t the case here because the moment you get behind the steering wheel, the sense of solid German engineering takes over. The Polo TSI behaves neutrally while taking the corners, its taut suspension setup and wide sticky tyres contributing to it.

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Same goes for its steering as well, which is quite communicative and precise. The suspension setup is a little firm at slow speeds but doesn’t feel uncomfortable. If you think of it from a driver’s perspective, the Volkswagen Polo TSI is the best when it comes to handling and overall driving experience.

Looks and interiors

If we had to assign a single word for its design, it has to be ‘timeless’. The current-gen Polo that we have here has been carrying the same design philosophy from time immemorial. Volkswagen has rolled out an updated version of the Polo in other international markets but we still get the same old Polo.

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The design feels very un-offensive and proportionate. The dual-barrel headlights do provide a sense of modernity but illumination lacks the desired intensity. The blacked-out roof adds to its sportiness which is further accentuated by the pronounced roof spoiler at the back. The design is typically German and it works in its favour.

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The interiors are clad in all-black treatment, hinting at its sporty intent. The driver’s seat is height adjustable and the steering wheel has tilt and telescopic adjustability so that the driver can configure it according to his needs. The 6.5-inch infotainment screen isn’t the best of the lot but it does come with Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatibility. The quality of the materials used in carving the cabin is good but the Polo does miss out on some features like push-button start, wireless charging, rear camera, 60:40 split rear seat and Isofix child mounts. The knee room at the rear isn’t something to write home about either.

Also read: Volkswagen ID.4 All-Electric SUV Unveiled

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The Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI has remained pretty consistent in its approach over the years. Some of its rivals might offer better equipment list but the Polo takes it home when it comes to overall driving fun. Priced at INR 7.9 Lakh, the Polo that we have currently have here should be replaced by a new model in the coming years. We just hope that the new Polo remains consistent where it matters the most and comes better equipped than the outgoing model. We also hope VW improves the headlights and the braking components which show signs of wear rather early these days. Having said that, the quality of service has improved and the cost of repairs has gone down, which should work in the favour of all new VW products.

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