Images: Hanoz Patel & Amit Chhangani
Just in the recent past, the German auto manufacturer gave us, the Polo fans, another iteration of this seemingly understated yet drool worthy hatchback. Amidst constant speculation and guess work on the launch details by the media fraternity, VW launched the visually beefed up Polo, the Cross Polo. Even to a Polo owner who is well versed with every square inch of his/her prized possession, the `Cross` manages to create the illusion of a cross country capable hatch. So what’s changed, or rather what’s not? Either ways, nothing much really, and yet, so much!
Design and Exteriors
The boffins at VW have injected the Polo with a dose of rugged looks – cosmetic changes that are nothing less than a makeover! In a nutshell, the Polo now comes with a body kit lending it a subtle off road ready image and is christened Cross Polo in this avatar. What catches your attention is the liberal infusion of matt black cladding that the Cross has received throughout the lower part of the car.
Starting from the redesigned front bumpers, which lead the matt back rugged theme, through the fenders, into the claddings on the doors, the treatment finishes with similar effect on the rear bumpers. VW has tastefully added Satin silver finished diffuser elements on the lip of the bumpers up front and also at the rear, rendering it some mud plugging intent.
Black effect headlamps look even more in sync with the overall character than on the Polo. What’s more, a pair of silver finished roof-rails further affirm the `Cross-country`/ready for adventure intent. A basic looking `Cross Polo` sticker above the claddings on the rear doors is the only mention of this variant, and with the stickering job, doesn’t feel as premium and well finished as it should.
The matt black lower treatment makes the CrossPolo look a lot taller, however the ground clearance (168mm) confirms that it actually is not, and remains an un-tinkered withPolo under its skin. Dimensionally, the Cross Polo is 21mm taller (roof rails), 14mm wider (cladding?) and 18mm longer (bumpers) when compared to the Polo.
The Polo by itself if the epitome of clean lines, superb proportions and sophisticated automotive design at its very best – it’s quite a piece of art if you ask us. The Crosspolo has more elements coming in. It’s not as clean and unadulterated, and may not appeal to the purist. For those who prefer beefy, masculine character to understatement, the Cross Polo should make a lot of sense.
Next page for interiors and cabin features>>>
Interiors and cabin features
Step inside and you get to witness firsthand the premium interior which VW offers through its model range, the Cross Polo, needless to say, is no different. Although the interiors are dark and devoid any flowing curvy panels or lightly colored multi-tone surfaces, they are simple and well laid-out. The cabin is typically German – very minimalistic yet highly convenient with exceptional build quality. The design of the steering wheel for instance exudes function and simplicity; easily one of the simplest 3 spokes around. Well it had to be, since Walter de Silva`s (Head of Group Design) “La Simplicita” or “the simplicity” has to reflect in each of the company’s products. The theme has been immaculately executed in the Polo (remember this is a Polo?). In the top designer’s own words, “…simplicity does not mean diminishing features/quality” and true to his words, the design remains simple and build quality – fantastic.
The hard wearing plastic on the dashboard top has a big grain finish and does away with soft touch surfaces that are gaining popularity with manufacturers these days. There are no flashy graphics on the MFD or the two DIN audio system with integrated blue tooth connectivity placed under the high mounted AC vents. Instead, the central multimedia system has an antiglare effect screen with white characters which are easy to read even in bright light and pleasing to look in darkness.
The red back lit buttons for various functions are thoughtfully laid out while the HVAC controls take space below the audio system, and operate with an assuring tactile feel. The glove box opens with a flip handle which is easy to open while leaning from the driver’s seat as well, confirming VW`s claims of interiors being built around driver convenience. The glove box has a small recess for service book and happens to be one of the well-designed parts of the car. The wing mirror adjust stick, the vertically placed door lock-unlock buttons on the grab handle of the door, the rotary multi-function rotary light switch amongst many other bits, fall within easy reach and are intuitively placed.
The simplistic steering wheel with telephony/volume buttons, can be adjusted for tilt and reach, makes getting comfortable behind the `wheel a breeze. The white backlit dials on the Cross Polo are clear and bold while being easy to read at all times, requiring a mere glance. A small red-lit LCD screen sits between the tachometer and speedometer dials and displays a host of information which can be cycled through using the menu button on the wiper stalk. The MFD includes travel time, distance travelled, average speed, fuel efficiency, trip meters, distance to empty meter, outside temperate, clock and even the service interval! While a lot of diesel engine cars do not have a redline, the tachometer on the Cross Polo redlines at a lofty 5000rpm (more on that later)
The spacious seats are clothed in `Livon` Titanium black upholstery and look classy while complementing the interior theme. They offer generous support and padding while also having height adjustability on the driver side. The Cross Polo`s interiors have many places to stow away belongings. The central console has twin cup holders placed ahead of the gear lever. A conveniently positioned cigarette ligther /12v socket is between the cup holders and a deep receptacle under the HVAC controls. The door pads have integrated bottle holders; and to break the monotony, you find a lot of silver bezels and surrounds in the interior which up the premium feel.
The rear seats of the Cross Polo are a bit of disappointment when it comes to space. The rear knee room is a bit compromised even though the overall comfort remains good. The adjustable head restraints, the back angle, the under thigh support and the knee room are all great if you measure up to 5`7. Taller occupants are likely to complain about the knee space, the leg room and the head room (in that order). The central hump on the floor board doesn`t do any good for the middle occupant, and it remains a squeeze more often than not.
Flip the VW logo on the trunk to access the boot, which at 280 litres is ample by hatchback standards. As the Cross Polo comes with alloy wheels, trunk carries a full size spare mounted on a steel disc.
Next page for Engine & Gearbox>>>
Engine & Gearbox
The Cross Polo is powered by a 3 cylinder 1199 cc that produces a modest 74 bhp@4200 rpm and 180 Nm@2000 rpm which is identical to the Polo. This 3 pot oil burner is mated to a 5 speed manual transmission which is quite a joy to use. As the exteriors of the Cross Polo suggest its off road likings, the engine on the other hand discourages you from any such attempts as we later found out.
Fire it up and the diesel clatter is quite pronounced and continues to remain so after warm-up. Slot it into the first cog and your will be delighted with the positive clutch and light shift actions of the `box; lift off and you will instantly notice the sluggish torque delivery at crawling speeds. This oil burner definitely needs a few hundred more revs than any other engines out there in the market doing duty in different cars. It suffers from a turbo lag until 2000 rpm after which it wakes from its slumber and springs to life.
The majority of fun lies between 2000-4300 rpm. This engine loves to be revved and has quite an appetite for it. We particularly loved and got addicted to the un-diesel like drone this 3 cylinder mill dishes out while whipping the needle upto its redline at 5000 rpm, a mark which it eagerly reaches every time you prod the accelerator. Coupled with a precisely gate-d gearbox which makes shifting a part of the enjoyable driving experience makes you go up and down the cogs every now and then. Drive enthusiastically and the car feels faster than it actually is & manages a 0-100 in 16 seconds. On a clear stretch, you can reach a speed of up to 160 kmph in 5th with the tachometer nudging the redline.
However, lets picture a typical day in the life of the Cross Polo where its weakness can make it a deal breaker. Imagine crawling in bumper to bumper to traffic or driving around in city traffic; constant stop and go is something this engine will make a laborious affair given the turbo lag. Even though the, gear ratios are well matched the least one can expect an even shorter 1st gear, this unit does not have the typical tick-over tug which modern diesels have. So even while we petrol heads turned diesel devotees love its life past 2000 rpm, marching around in 1st and 2nd gear remains a bother for us. Hence, as mentioned earlier, any attempts to take it off the black tarmac could result in disappointment unlike what its body kit suggests.
Next page for suspension and handling>>>
Chassis, Suspension, Handling
Since, the Cross is essentially a Polo, its underpinnings remain the same. This also means the Cross handles like the Polo, great!! With changing tastes of auto buyers, today it’s not unusual to find SUVs and Soft roader customers who buy into the segment only for the rugged looks, while expecting the car to handle like a hatch or a sedan. The Cross is another such hatchback/crossover which displays impressive road manners. McPherson struts upfront and Semi-independent trailing arms with coil springs and shock absorbers at the rear shoulder the weight and handling responsibilities. This is one area which VW has managed to impress us where the overall package comprising of the steering, suspension and braking is spot on, well almost!
Of course the Polo isn`t exactly a track tool, but it’s as much fun a reasonably priced, practical everyday car could be. With its well-tuned spring rates and damping, it offers a comfortable suspension too. The bump absorption is good even on broken surfaces and shod with the 185/60 R15 Apollo Acceleres (increasingly found on many cars as OEM nowadays), the car manages do exhibit a fine balance between handling and comfort. Even as speeds build up, the Cross Polo feels confident and stable, a trait very few hatchbacks are blessed with.
Steering is an integral part of communication between the driver and car dynamics and also finds a mention here. The steering on the Cross Polo is rightfully light at parking speeds and weighs up as speeds build up without being vague at all, however it feels a bit light at triple digit speeds. The steering setup on the Cross definitely adds up the fun factor while being behind the wheel of this popular hatchback.
Next page for conclusion>>>
Summing it up…
We won`t blame you, if you (like us) wonder what VW is offering `more` over a similarly specced Polo which can be yours at almost 60 k odd less. Well for starters, it’s got a complete new identity and does get curious glances every now and then. During the test, one such curious fellow road user came up to us and popped the unthinkable – “ modified hai kya? !”.
While we love the free revving nature of the three pot oil burner and its aural drone, we loathe the lack of low end torque. It comes with important bits like the ABS, Air Bags, Alloy wheels, climate control (and a lot more) as well as innovative features like the “anti-pinch” power windows. Of course the interiors aren`t flashy, but are easily best in class when it comes to build quality and quality of materials. VW gives you leather wrapped steering wheel and handbrake lever but picks fabric as the material of choice for the seats. Badged with the prefix ` Cross`, it still retains the 168 mm of ground clearance like the Polo. Under some enthusiastic driving, you can expect 15 kmpl as a combined fuel economy number, which isn`t bad at all.
VW`s Polo has a legion of fans around the world (including us) and this number has grown manifold this year with the Polo WRC clinching its maiden WRC Championship title. So if its Polo or nothing for you, but if you also want it in a slightly rugged attire, the Cross is for you.
Next page for Price technical specifications, images and feature list>>>
Price: Rs 7.7 lakh Ex-Showroom Delhi
Expand the image below for Technical specifications and features list. VW Cross Polo Image Gallery follows.