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The love and hate towards Polo GT TSI

Monday, October 2, 2017

/ by Srikanth Eswaran


(Image source: VW India)


Firstly its a shame that I took a test drive of the Polo GT TSI this late - nearly five years after its launch in india. Since then its price is steadily increasing north. Nevertheless finally I managed to get my hands on this hot hatch and I was rather inquisitive to see what exactly the heat is all about :-)

Specificiations of Polo GT TSI

First things first some specs out of my way

  • 1.2 litre petrol engine, 4 cylinders
  • 105 bhp power at 5000 rpm
  • 175 Nm torque at 1500-4100
  • < 5m turning radius
  • 16 inch alloy wheels - so increased ground clearance
  • 45 litre fuel tank 


Features of Polo GT TSI that matter

When you buy a hatchback buyers are left high and dry with so many omissions that companies undertake just to cut costs. Take the example of cars like Celerio, or Alto, etc which give just one airbag, or no ABS or only ABS and no airbags, no wipers, no defoggers - the list gets endless. Some argue that it is done to price the car in one particular price bracket. But these are not luxuries anymore. They are darn necessities of life. Why should I feel that only me as the driver needs an airbag? Why not my co passenger? As a matter of fact why not 8 airbags, why only two ? In 2017 we must look at a proper and safe car even if it costs much.

Some of the features Polo GT offers is very admirable compared to comptetion. Some of them I personally appreciated were these:

  • ESP
  • Hill hold control for DSG petrol
  • Dual airbags and ABS
  • Cruise control (on a hatchback !)
  • Automatic climate control
  • 16 inch alloy wheels - takes care of the ground clearance aspect for good


I fail to understand whether they offer the following - My feeling is they do not which is a bit of shame

  • Anti pinch one touch windows for all sides
  • Auto dimming rear view mirrors
  • Rain sensing wipers and follow me home headlamps
  • Navigation / Android auto and Apple car play


Drive experience


Coming to the drive itself, I took only a brief drive which had the following along the route

  • Traffic - stop and go
  • Broken roads
  • Bad road humps
  • Smooth stretches to accelerate quickly
  • Slopes


The car is seemingly quiet upon start and does not let you know what is waiting to do when you press the pedal. Once you want to move you have three ways to use the car - D mode (completely auto) and Manual mode with tiptronic gear shifts and sport mode.

D-Mode

The D-mode is perhaps the best mode to drive this car in - it has precise understanding of the gear you are likely to be in and the dual clutch is just waiting to put the car quickly in to different gears just the way you expect the car to move about. If you are stressed out this is the mode to use and the car is always willing to work just the way you want it to and slices through traffic like butter. The chilling airconditioner also makes you very comfortable and long stretches of traffic jam would not be a bother anymore with the Polo GT.

Manual mode

The manual mode expects you to use the tiptronic transmission and for some reason VW have defined it in an anti progressive way - meaning we always expect + to be down and - to be up. In the GT its the other way round. for going higher you need to move the shift forward and for reducing gear move it backward. This is seriously counter intuitive and kills the joy of manual mode. If you want to know what I mean, drive the celerio AMT.

Sports mode

The sports mode is supposed to let you be on the same gear for a while longer to enhance pickup before gear change but it acts a bit sticky and just when you think it should be changing gear even on surges of acceleration it takes just that 1-2 seconds more which is disappointing. Again do not get me wrong here - its not unbearable - just could have been a bit more perfect. For the gears itself it does hold up pretty well and does not make you feel awkward. However it is still the D-mode i would prefer if you buy this car and it will never leave you feeling bad.

Ground clearance


All the reviews I see never really bother to cover this aspect properly. Somehow being in Bangalore for me this is one of the criteria to choose a car given the pathetic condition of our roads. Thankfully with VW deciding to give 16” wheels, the car did not even touch any of the most horribly designed road humps throughout the drive. I drove on them completely impressed with the way this car handles undulations on the road.

Body roll and suspension


The suspension is not exactly soft and more on the firmer side and hence you can expect slight body roll if you turn around corners sharply or go over real bad patches too fast. Again th car handles these bad patches well just that passengers inside may get pretty jostled at times.

Chassis and safety

This car comes with all the safety aspects you can think of - Dual airbags, ABS, ESP, Hill hold, etc. Most of all this is still the car with the reassuring european build even after a good 15 years since these cars started making in into the markets. Close the door and you get that reassuring thud which makes you feel safe at all times. God forbid you are involved in an accident with the Polo, you are bound to walk out alive for sure. Rest assured you are in one of the most safest car around.

Rear space

This sucks. No … Really. I mean it. This car should have been a 3-door car. Not a 5-door. I don’t know what VW were thinking when they designed this car for 5 people. Not even 4 people can sit properly if the front passengers are nearing 6 foot heights. The rest of them can forget enjoying sitting inside. The 2018 version of VW is much more roomy for this purpose. And its definitely a more spacious car. But you know how car manufacturers operate in India. They milk the consumers first for the old crappy products on sale currently and then bring in something new and make up a story that its so much more better than the older one and try to milk the buyers even more.

VW please do not fool people that this hatchback is the best for space and so on. No one will be able to believe it. Either bring the 2018 version out soon here for same price point or just dont mention space as a luxury element while advertising.

Fuel efficiency figures expected

I don’t go by ARAI figures or other such claims of mileage. Nowadays thankfully you dont need to go by the salesman’s word for mileage. There are systems that let you know the real time effeciency that the car is returning over a trip distance of a said number of kilometers. I did check the real world figures and it showed me 6.8kmpl for the Polo GT TSI. Agreed its a test drive car and most people always drive within 1st or 2nd gear. Its more of a performance automatic rather than something tuned for mileage. But even by extrapolated standards, I do not see this car giving anything beyond 10kmpl in city traffic.

If any of you are getting anything more than this, do let me know in the comments section and I will be glad to know how. There are cars that return 13-16/17 kmpl in hatchback category for petrol itself. So arguably the mileage figures of Polo does look a bit disturbing. Real world figures can touch a tad bit around 10 or slightly more. Do not expect anything more than this for an automatic vehicle.

Please do you research before blowing your money on a machine that burns your bank account at the petrol pumps often.

Conclusion

If you are looking at a powerful hatchback with an automatic transmission that steals the show the Polo GT TSI is for you. Safety and style are unquestionable and you get your money’s worth with this car. Rear space is a big disappointment and VW could have done well to utilize rear boot space for better rear space instead. However they chose not to do that due to not wanting to alter dynamics of driving.

The drive is powerful the car is nimble and makes you happy in stop and go traffic and your legs will thank you for the rest they get with the DSG gear shift. It is one of the most powerful cars in the category and it is there in the market for a reason. Driving enthusiasts. There is a waiting period of 8 weeks on the car and no discounts whatsover. That speaks a lot of where VW wanted to be with this car and they have been there since a long time now.

So if you do decide to invest on this car for the above reasons of power, ease of use - you will not be making a mistake.

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