Big on safety, small in sizePolo 1.0 is one of the best hatchbacks you can get for your money.
Does your little brother get more attention than you? Are your relatives more interested in him? And though you wouldn’t say it out loud, do you secretly think he is more charismatic than you?
That is how the bigger VW Golf feels when compared to its smaller sibling, the Volkswagen Polo.
Since its launch, the Polo has established itself as one of the most loved hatchbacks and it is the most famous and best-selling Volkswagen in the Nepali automotive market. In the latest iteration of the Polo, owing to the stricter emission norms, the German Automotive giants have ditched the much loved and popular 1.2-litre engine in favour of a newly developed 1.0-litre engine. With the downsize, VW promises improvement on performance, but does the new engine deliver what Volkswagen promises? Intrigued, we seek to find out.
The new Polo 1.0 has little to differentiate itself from past versions of the Polo. As with the previous iterations, the front of the car looks chunky with the classic Volkswagen grille carrying the logo flanked by headlights on either side. The bonnet still carries the classic chiselled lines that provide the car with a classy look.
At the back there have been no changes; the rear end of the car looks stout with the same tail-light as well as the tailgate as we have seen on the previous models and the Volkswagen logo also serves as a boot-latch.
Interiors and features
As with the exterior, the interior too has little to set it aside from the Polo lineup. But the quality of the materials used is top-notch. The seats are plush and covered with artificial leather units. On the front, the instrument cluster is housed in front of the steering wheel and is loaded with a speedometer, tachometer, low fuel indicator, range to empty, gear shift indicator, among a plethora of other features.
The updated car gets modern features like an infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity that is very intuitive and Volkswagen have been generous enough to provide the car with a reverse parking camera.
The car is also loaded on the safety front with dual airbags (one for the passenger and one for the driver), electronic engine immobilizer with floating code, interior rear-view mirror with anti-glare adjustment, and an anti-lock braking system, making the car one of the few to get a safety rating of Global NCAP 4 stars.
Engine and performance
Germans are known for their efficiency and engineering, and the German automaker Volkswagen has done just that with their new Polo 1.0. VW has replaced their older, bigger and less efficient 1.2-litre engine with a smaller and more efficient 1.0-litre engine.
The new and downsized engine produces a peak power of 76 BHP at 6200 RPM, similar to the bigger 1.2L engine but it loses out on torque producing only 95Nm at 3000 to 4300 RPM compared to the 1.2’s 110Nm. The downsizing has its benefits though; VW claims the fuel economy has improved by 2.3 kmpl providing a mileage of 18.78 kmpl.
The 1.0-litre engine is mated with a 5-speed manual gearbox that requires a bit of effort to shift. New on the Polo is the placement of reverse gear which is now in a more conventional position under the fifth gear rather than up and away from first.
The newly developed 1.0-litre engine is incredibly smooth and the power delivery is linear but leaves one begging for more torque. The accelerator is not as responsive as one would like and the vehicle takes an astounding 16.5 seconds to reach a tonne from stationary.
But the Polo was never a vehicle for outright performance. Ask anyone who has driven a Polo 1.2 and they will agree that the car is not the one to quench the thirst of performance seekers, it is more of a city car that is a popular first choice and an efficient commuter. And with a downsize in engine capacity, the Polo 1.0 further serves its purpose of a perfect first car and a capable city slicker.
Comfort and handling
The Polo is more of a vehicle to drive rather than to be driven in. Bluntly speaking, it isn’t the most comfortable vehicle if you are a passenger sitting at the back as lack of leg-room is an issue as with other hatchbacks in this segment. Other than that, the seats are comfortable and the steering wheel is adjustable, making it a comfortable vehicle to drive.
As with every Polo, Volkswagen has done a brilliant job on the handling front. The ride quality, as well as handling, is exceptional leaving us with no room for complaints.
Braking and suspension
The Polo has been provided with disc brakes at the front while conventional drum brakes take its place at the rear. The brakes offer a good amount of feedback and outstanding stopping power and bringing the car to a halt is not a problem.
On the suspension department, the updated car retains the MacPherson Strut with a stabiliser bar at the front and semi-independent trailing arm at the rear. The ride quality is good and the suspension setup does a great job of soaking up the anomalies of the road.
All in all, the Polo is undoubtedly one of the best hatchbacks you can get for your money. But its position as a family hatchback is blemished by its lack of rear passenger seat space. Still, it is a popular vehicle with great looks and an array of features. While the car is perfect for the city, the car lags on the open roads. So if you’re someone who takes your car out on the highways and have been driving for some time, we recommend you to pay the extra premium and go for the 1.6 variant.