Volkswagen Polo 1.2 petrol road test

The Volkswagen Polo 1.2 Petrol Comfortline we are testing is the German giant’s first hatchback offering in India. Launched in 6 variants and with two engine options — the 1.2 Petrol and 1.2 Diesel — the Volkswagen Polo takes on the likes of the Maruti Swift and Hyundai i20 in the premium hatchback segment. The Comfortline is the mid-variant.

VW Polo Comfortline 1.2 petrol test drive pic
VW Polo test drive: Good manners at speed

Volkswagen has tweaked the Polo to local tastes and preferences in India. The overall shape and looks of the Volkswagen Polo remain identical to its European counterpart, but gone are the smoked headlamps and turn indicators and the integrated mirrors. The wide headlamps wear a crystalline look. A lot of chrome appears on the Comfortline’s  exteriors, making it look very classy; and you know we in India love chrome everywhere.

Looks, fit and finish

volkswagen polo features and goodies picture
The VW Polo Comfortline 1.2 petrol - quick look!

Exterior

The headlamps and tail lamps have been very tastefully designed. For instance, small things like the windshield washer spray nozzle have been neatly hidden near the wipers and hence the bonnet is left looking cleaner and sharper. The front of the Volkswagen Polo is very European and classy looking. The grille is dominated by the huge VW logo in chrome.  The sides are nicely chiseled out and the doors open in three stages to nearly 90 degrees, making entry and exit a breeze. The quarter glass at the rear adds some airiness. The tail lamps are flush with the rear fenders, with a squarish shape. The boot-opener is integrated in the VW logo on the boot — a nice little touch.

Interior

The Volkswagen Polo in India has a two-tone look on its interiors. The top half of the dashboard is hard black plastic, and the bottom half is beige, merging seamlessly with the door pad design. The beige color in here gives a very airy and spacious feel to the inside of the Polo Comfortline. The chrome-finished door release handle adds a slightly upmarket touch to the door pad area. The positioning of the electric central locking control on the driver’s side door is just perfect. Subtle touches like soft backlighting for all the switches speaks for the car’s attention to detail. The door pockets are large enough to hold one-litre water bottles. There are lots of storage slots on the centre console behind the gear lever, besides cup-holders in the centre. There is also an XXL ash-tray. The Polo’s glove-box is also fairly well-dimensioned and can swallow a fair bit of all the odds and ends you’d want to carry around.

vw polo interiors in grey and beige photo
Photo: The VW Polo has a classy two-tone interior

Comfort and features

The Volkswagen Polo’s doors close with a very German thud. Door handles are heavy and have a hard feel to them unlike those in Japanese machines. The front seats are very well-appointed and have a high-quality feel to them. The seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seats could do with a little more legroom. The driver seat has a height adjust setting, adding to the comfort.

The VW Polo’s steering wheel is perfect in size and has a large, noticeable VW logo in chrome. The steering is also adjustable for height and reach. The instrument panels are among the best to read, very clear with red backlighting. It also features a gear change indicator. The indicator stalk is on the left of the steering – something we got used to after an hour or two into the road test – and comes with a useful lane-change feature. The driver can just push the stalk up or down gently and the indicators flash thrice for a lane-change. We found this very convenient during our drive.

The centre of the Polo’s instrument panel between the RPM meter and the speedometer is a sort of a multi-info display, showing temperature, trip meter, Next Service Due and the Odometer along with the Clock and a Digital Fuel Gauge. The centre console on the Comfortline misses out on the audio system which is available on the Highline variant. The Polo’s AC is manually controlled, and was quite effective even in the 42-degree of heat of Mumbai.

Mirrors on the Polo Comfortline are manually adjustable, but what we missed on the Polo is, even though all the windows are powered, the switches for the rear power windows are missing on the driver side. Overall, everything works and feels as if it was made to last a 100 years. One can seat 3 adults in the rear seat in reasonable comfort.

volkswagen polo front photo
Photo: Solid German looks of the Volkswagen Polo haven't been changed for India

Performance and handling

The Polo is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine which pumps out a very decent 75 bhp of power and 110 Nm of torque at 3750 rpm. The Polo has been tuned for optimal city driving. As we could figure out during our drive, it never really felt underpowered at all. The gear shifts on the 5-speed manual transmission are precise and have a very clinical feel.

While you’re driving the car, you don’t realize that under the bonnet is a 3-cylinder engine, because there was no power loss even with 5 people on board and the AC at full blast. With the VW Polo weighing 1020 kg, this should speak a lot for the kind of power delivery of the engine. It can get to a top speed of 155 kmph, but the power delivery is very linear. There is quite an audible engine note when it’s revved – some may like it and some may not. For us, anyway, it was music to the ears!

The brakes on the Polo felt adequate and though the standard setup has discs on the front and drums at the rear, braking was even and the Polo came to a halt in a very sedate manner.

The Polo is a sweet handler and its electronic power steering makes it easy to drive in city traffic. The suspension is tuned on the stiffer side, and easily tackled potholes, speed breakers and whatever the Mumbai roads had to offer, in relative comfort. The Comfortline comes with 14-inch tyres on steel wheels with wheel caps, but our car had the 15-incher with alloys which is an option and comes standard on the Highline.

Mileage

We did not have the car with us for long enough to answer the ‘mileage’ question accurately. Volkswagen claims the Polo gives 17 kmpl. Our best guess is that the car would give about 15 kmpl in the city if driven sedately. Most of the new cars have efficient engines, but they are also safer and heavier in general which does take a bit out of fuel efficiency.

What we think

Overall, the Volkswagen Polo is a good car for your day-to-day commutes and can perform fairly well for the highway too. It has typical German looks, and the quality of the fit and finish is second to none in this segment. It’s got a massive boot too. Considering the Indian Polo comes in three trim levels, the Base Trendline has the basics and can be ideal for the no-nonsense buyer. The Comfortline, which we tested, is a little better with some convenience features. All Polos also come with a 6-year Anti Corrosion Warranty, making it a good deal if you really want a good quality, reliable hatchback.