A keen observant will agree that there exists a sinister appeal about certain things that carry a tag of serenity, like the Belladonna, a name which means ‘beautiful woman’ in Italian, but is actually one of the most poisonous plants in the western hemisphere. So, although such things emanate a fragrance of calm and peace, you have to spend some time with them, for the fumes to strike at your nervous system and wait for them to either make you turn pale in pain or release truckloads of endorphin. The latter is what we experienced with the New 2014 Volkswagen Polo GT TSI.
The perception towards hot hatches in our country is more or less similar. Many like looking at them from a distance and imagine driving one in a virtual world, but when it comes to buying one, they’d rather settle down for something akin to a frugal commercial airliner and hope it takes them to the moon, when they could’ve easily bought an entire Apollo mission for a little more money. As a piece of kit, the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI is the latter.
Not much has changed as the car is mechanically the same and the only changes are cosmetic, where it now sports some chrome above the goatee, has improved its vision with a new pair of contact lenses and gotten itself a rear bumper with reflectors. Unless you notice the different set of ‘Estrada’ alloys, which though different from the normal 1.5 TDI Polo, are still the same as they were on the old GT TSI. The GT badge on the grille, the tailgate and the GT TSI sticker on the ‘B-pillar’ are further differentiators. Unless you have a keen eye, it is hard to tell that this one is a master when it comes to holding a champion at the game of Polo.
Numbers and figures are the same, as the 1.2-litre, turbo charged, 4 cylinder engine pumps out 105 PS of power at 5000 rpm and 175 Nm of torque between 1500 – 4100 rpm. Coupled with the brilliant 7-speed dual clutch transmission unit, the Polo TSI is a completely different animal when compared to the 1.5 GT TDI. Does it bite? Oh Yeah!
So, you say there is no replacement for displacement, and maybe you also agree when someone says, big girls are the best. You so need to take the ice bucket challenge! The Polo GT TSI will astound you the way it develops its peak torque from as low as 1500 rpm and has it spread out all the way till 4100 rpm. It revs clean till 6000 clicks and on its way there, you can’t help falling for that sporty note which massages your aural senses.
Crank the motor and you already start rubbing your hands in glee, as for a change, there isn’t an inherently lethargic oil burner bubbling ahead of you, but a turbo charged gasoline motor which is akin to a hyperactive kid, who just can’t sit still. Slot the car in ‘D’ mode and as you are off the mark, the car takes off in a smooth manner. Being gentle with the throttle will make the car upshift anywhere around the 2500 rpm mark, while the clever DSG system analyses throttle position, gradient, load and the colour of your shirt, to understand the different moods of earthlings, however, this is the only point till where it seems like a sheep in sheep’s clothing. Once you remove the docility from your right foot and throw it out of the window, the DSG realises that you aren’t in any mood to go to bed in pink pyjamas. As you push it harder, the pedal, the dual clutch system quickly finds the right gear to keep the engine spinning in the higher reaches of the rev band and keep the momentum going. However, this is not all the fun you get to have when you buy the Polo GT TSI.
What acts as a catalyst to the howling wolf inside you is the ‘S’ mode. Bring the shifter right at the bottom, and as you bury the accelerator deeper, the engine climbs effortlessly towards its 6000 rpm redline. The DSG system will upshift or downshift only with the sole intent of keeping the motor on the boil, till the point where the fluid in the vessel is full of sprightly bubbles and someone regulates the heat, just short of letting it all spill over.
If the control freak within you isn’t happy yet, there’s one more magic trick the Polo GT TSI has up its sleeve. It lets you shift between gears manually through the gearbox and decide how you wish to spoil yourself silly. However, to keep things in check, it will intervene and upshift when you keep the throttle pinned at the redline and downshift if you act smart and try driving it in 7th gear at 30 kph to extract an economy figure that will put a bicycle to shame. So now you get it? You just can’t beat ‘The Matrix’, however, the Polo GT TSI is more fun than developing the ability to bend spoons.
Our only gripe with the manual mode then, one has to push the shifter to upshift and pull it down to downshift, when we think it should be the other way round, but then some people are wired weirdly and so are we.
Performance figures remain unchanged, where the car still sprints to the ton under 11 seconds while in the sports mode. In gear acceleration remains just as strong and there is just this one thing where you might have to scratch your head, just do not mistake your head to be between the thighs though. You can’t get off the line screeching your tires as you would in a manually geared car. No really, we tried pushing the brake and building the revs for a good launch, but in any mode, the revs will not climb beyond the 1500 rpm mark while at standstill and in forward gears.
The Volkswagen Polo 1.2 GT TSI carries an official fuel economy rating of 17.21 kpl and it isn’t a joke. Drive with a mad hat and the car will return a figure of around 10 – 11 kpl, while cruising on the highway should see it extract another couple kilometres more per litre. This Is a hot- hatch, and if the excitement that tag carries doesn’t overpower the frowns on your forehead, which you get from those efficiency figures, we know a few hatchbacks which are powered by an engine of the same capacity, boast about astronomical kpl numbers, and only manage the 11 – 12 kpl in the real world.
In the first look, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Polo GT TDI or the TSI, unless you spot the DSG lever, or someone cranks the engine. There’s a button on the centre console though, which is another giveaway. It toggles the Electronic Stability Program on the TSI and for people used to switching the AC button to its off position, terming it as the ‘Sports’ switch, this will excite. As my drive partner figured it out during the event. He found an isolated roundabout and kept going around it in circles, but to his amusement, something would curtail his excitement, every time he tried to get the car out of shape. Finally, some intervention and a button press later, he was grinning cheek to cheek. Similarly, around bends and on a wet, rainy day, ESP was vital in keeping things in check and is a pretty nifty tool that comes in handy when excitement takes over sanity.
Unlike the Polo GT TDI, the TSI isn’t as front heavy and thanks to a lighter engine, it feels more nimble around corners. The steering on the TSI too like its cousin is electrically assisted. It lacks as much feel and weight as we would’ve liked, but it is an accurate unit and given the nimble characteristics of the car, it matches its personality. The Polo GT TSI, like its other twins, shares the same brilliant ride and handling characteristics, except the fact that it feels lighter, but retains all the other traits.
Braking is one aspect though, where things could’ve been slightly better. After a spirited drive, they start fading and lack the bite or sharpness one would expect from a performance offering. We managed to get so much heat in them, after the drive, the front discs wanted a smoke break. However, under hard breaking, electronic aids like ABS and EBD ensure the car tracks straight and comes to a halt without any drama or shaking its rear like Beyonce or whoever you like.
So should I buy the GT TDI or the TSI?
Good question, but the answer lies within you. The GT TDI carries more grunt, is torquier, has a manual gearbox and sips diesel. You should be looking at it, if your idea of an exciting drive involves expressway runs and shrinking inter-city distances, it will be equally at home in the city and is the perfect fast car to buy under 10 lakh, if you have now come to terms with evolution and started to adore modern diesel engine technology.
On the other hand, the GT TSI is something that rekindles old romance. It gives you a rush of a different kind, one which involves revving a sweet petrol engine right to its limit. It brings back memories, when downshifting and then watching the rev counter climb was thrilling, against riding a wave of torque in the same gear. The Polo GT TSI also is a rare car packed with technology like a dual-clutch gearbox, ESP, ABS, EBD, but no CCTV. So if you are reading this and the smell of petrol is missing in your life, stop following the ticker on a financial news channel. Take a good look at this machine, there aren’t many examples like this one which can truly enhance the octane rating of your blood.
|Variant||Polo GT TSI|
|Engine and Transmission|
|Version||1.2 TSI Engine|
|Engine Type||4-Cylinder In-line|
|Bore x Stroke (mm)||71.0 x 75.6|
|Fuel Efficiency (km/l)*||17.21|
|Max Power PS (kW) @ rpm||105 (77) @ 5000|
|Max Torque (Nm) @ rpm||175 @ 1500-4100|
|Type||Electronic Power Steering|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1109|
|Gross Vehicle Weight (kg)||1580|
|Front/Rear track (mm)||1460/1456|
|Minimum Ground Clearance (mm)||165|
|Tyres and Wheels||185/60 R15 (Alloys)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (litres)||45|
|Price (Ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs 7.99 lakh|
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