Big cars, powerful ones. Full optional advertised version, never actually ever seen them on public roads.
Most people in Europe buys economy, small cars without that many optional that would otherwise bring the price close to a basic version of a bigger car.
So we got the Polo, VW’s smaller version of all-time best seller Golf.
This one in particular is the “new” Polo, by definition just a facelifted version of the Mk5. No much changed outside besides slightly redesigned bumpers and headlights, the real changes though are inside.
In fact, the recently launched competitors’ models raised noticeably the interior quality and quality feel, so it was obvious that Volkswagen couldn’t just leave its Polo with an hard plastic dashboard and outdated media device. The Fiesta had a more modern touch already but the new Clio and Peugeot 208 showed that top class quality and good design could also be packed in a small car that should not necessarily be as expensive as an Audi A1 or Mini hatch.
Small cars are also for young people, those kind of customers that nowadays grow with a tablet in their hands and think that an iPhone 4S is already “old” since the 6 is about to be released in a matter of months.
So it wasn’t an easy task for VW to make a three years old car really appetible to this kind of Customers.
More gadget coming as standard means higher production costs for a category and price range where margins are already really tight for the Manufacturers.
As we expected VW got it right once again, since this almost basic trim already offers good quality and lots of gadgets to play around with, plus the updated version of the 1.2 TSI 90hp engine and enough space to seat comfortably four and five when strictly necessary. The boot has also been updated and now offers the same variable floor feature, already seen on the Golf Mk7 and may other competitors.
The new small touchscreen has slightly changed the face and layout of the dash, the unit is responsive, possibly not always as fast as a last generation tablet, or some Competitors’ media system. Now, I don’t want to sound too geeky but we have to say that it offers Bluetooth phone and audio streaming that can easily manage different sources at the same time and traditional playlists as well as Spotify ones. Ok, that was geeky but also it is a relevant note for a big chunk of people. Including myself.
Time to drive. The driver seat adjustable in height comes standard, together with height and depth adjustable steering wheel and seat belt. All this to give you the best driving position, that we all know how important it is to really feel the road and the cars movements.
So how should I test this little Volkswagen Polo? Most of Customers and everyday users will buy this TSI version and mainly use it within the city, to move other three smart phones maniacs from home to the cinema.
However, let us say that hypothetically one day, one of them will put his GalaxyS in the glove box and grab the gear lever with genuine, good intentions to drive it. And feel it.
90hp in a light body are good enough to have some fun and the five speed manual ‘box helps.
Obviously VW number one choice would be a 7speed DSG but this manual option is not bad at all, it is very smooth and soft, even though not that quick and a bit reluctant to a sport use.
The long ratios are clearly focused on fuel economy, but the gaps between one and the next are well spaced, never leave you in a rpm range where the engine can’t pull it forward. The TSI engine with its low-pressure turbo avoid any lags and it’s packed with relatively good, healthy 160Nm of instantly available torque at any engine speed.
The suspension setting is generally quite soft but the bounce is very well controlled and becoming firmer the more the units are compressed, this way the body rolls enough to ensure the right comfort but it is well controlled when the situation requires it to be “safe”.
So the phone is away, maybe just audio streaming the right playlist for this moment, we’ve nothing distracting from the road, form this moment. The road is the same urban commute we drive every day, we know every corner as if it was a racetrack though. We’ve all had “that” road that we know how to master.
So we drive, maybe at night when the city’s empty and the yellowish beam of the streetlights let us believe that the kerbs are “red&white” after all, as if we were in a proper racetrack.
The new Polo does its part, it feels nippy since the first corner, it feels light but with a well planted rear end. The steering feel is direct, without losing the perception that it still is a city car, it gives enough control and knowledge about what the front wheels are doing.
We seek the redline, well above the torque and power peak, well above the limit of rationality, just to hear the engine grunt and a subtle hiss from the turbo at every gear change.
These are those moments when we get to feel the car, moments when we have no distraction from the road, it is just the car and the feeling we get from it. And these are “real” feelings, shivers and goosebumps that this young lucky guy will only get from a real experience, away from a console, away from cold devices.