The three cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine comes to life with a surprising amount of initial noise and diesel type clatter. However, it settles into a rather quiet idling. On the move, only when you push it hard do you hear the typical three-pot hum. With a big hatch to lug around and just 75 horses on play, the petrol Polo is not really an enthusiast’s car. Sixteen seconds is what it takes to hit the ton mark from a standstill, clearly two-three seconds slower than other similar engined cars. However, put to sleep the naughty side of you, drive the car without a rush and the engine seems to shine. It pulls well from low speeds even in the top cog. Refinement levels, though not as good as some Japanese engines, are very good. In fact, the roll-on figures generated by the Polo in the third, fourth and fifth gears stand out. For instance, in third, it takes about 2.5 seconds less to get from 40km/h to 100km/h as compared to the Honda Jazz and the Maruti Ritz, both of which come with a 1.2-litre engine. A similar difference can also been seen in the fourth and fifth cogs.
Gearshift action is quite direct and operates without a fuss, but what really adds to the overall feel good factor is the light yet very precise steering. It is a delight at parking speeds, during city commuting as well as when driving in a spirited manner around hills with the only thing letting down the whole experience being the power, or the lack of it! Our test car came with 185/60 tyres mounted on 15-inch alloy wheels. Even with this tyre and alloy combination, the Polo rode, no, literally glided over imperfections and potholes during our drive. This car seems to have set a new benchmark in this class when it comes to the best possible combination of ride and handling. Worthy of a mention are the Apollo Acelere tyres which, no matter how hard I pushed the Polo around a set of twisties, never really gave up, holding on pretty well with just a hint of noise.
The VW Polo feels, rides and drives like a much bigger car. Its high speed poise is terrific and you’ll love driving it, that is, if you restrain your right foot from going down heavily. On the fuel efficiency front too, we managed 14kmpl in city and 19.5kmpl out on the highway – telling figures. A car’s fate in India, no matter how good it may be, depends on its pricing. And Volkswagen seems to have played this game very well indeed. With around 50 percent localization to start with, they have managed to price the Polo at a level which suddenly makes other hatches with a dearer sticker price, feel expensive, very expensive. It even ends up coming close on the heels of smaller hatchbacks. Rs 4.34 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base petrol variant, which goes on sale immediately, makes the Polo a terrific value for money proposition. The Comfortline and Highline sell for Rs 4.83 lakh and Rs 5.72 lakh (both ex-Delhi) respectively. What the heck, it even undercuts its sibling, the Skoda Fabia by a huge margin. VW has just made the competition sit up and scratch their heads in surprise and given the Indian middle class family a reason to rejoice.