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Review: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI

Driven April 2013

Review: Volkswagen Polo GT TSI
The Polo you see here is Volkswagen’s second attempt at making its hatchback more exciting and faster than before. The earlier version of the hot hatch had a bigger unit under its hood. But this time around, VW has turned towards high-tech machineries to give it a much needed edge. And they are calling it the Polo GT TSI.

If the GT zooms past you, we won’t blame you for not noticing it at first. It doesn’t come with any decals or body kit that we generally associate powerful cars with. The only visual changes are the new alloys wheels, an altered rear spoiler and GT badges on the front grille, C-pillars and the boot-lid. Surprisingly, there are no ‘Volkswagen’ and ‘Polo’ badges on this hatchback.

At the heart of this GT is the award winning 1.2-litre TSI petrol motor that combines direct injection and turbocharging. This results in a power output similar to the bigger 1.6 litre engine. The Polo GT TSI is packed with 103bhp and 175Nm of max torque, and all the power is sent to the front wheels via a first-in-class seven-speed DSG transmission. Yes, you read it right – a 7-speed DSG auto ’box only. No manual variant planned as of now.   

Start the 1197cc turbocharged petrol motor, slot the super-slick DSG in ‘Drive’ mode and the GT sprints off briskly. There is hardly any hint of turbo-lag and power is available right away from as low as 1200rpm, rising all the way up to 5000rpm. A greater chunk of power can be felt in the mid-range and from there on the motor just begs to be revved hard. But if you fancy some acoustic treat from a high-tech 1.2 TSI motor, then you would be in for some disappointment. It goes about doing its bits in a cool, calm and composed manner, without sounding strained, ruffled or loud for that matter.

Slotting the leather-wrapped gear stick in to the ‘D’ mode should take care of your city chores, while the highly responsive ‘Sports’ mode should keep you happy on long stretches of tarmac. As with all the ‘S’ modes, the gearbox stretches itself all the way to its redline before shifting to higher gears. It does the 0-100kph drill in 10.85sec and we believe this figure could be bettered if the clutch protector, that every DSG comes with, didn’t poke its nose and limit the engine revs to 1200rpm while taking off from standstill.

The DSG also responds well to an instant jab of the throttle pedal – downshifting a cog or two without any hesitation in order to keep the motor boiling at the right rpm, in the right gear. It shows in our in-gear test when the GT took just 1.89sec for 30-50kph and 2.48sec a 50-70kph dash. In case you wish to get more involved with all the action, there is a manual mode too, which unlike the other two modes, holds on to the lower gears and doesn’t upshift as soon as you are off the throttle pedal. Sadly, VW isn’t offering paddle shifters here.

It’s quite commendable the way the Polo GT handles while going around the corners. The steering is precise, offers decent amount of feedback and is devoid of any surprises. However, at higher speeds, the steering wheel feels on the lighter side. The suspension setup is a mix of comfort and sporty settings and it should work well for most part of your regular travel. However, it crashes on larger bumps and is quite audible inside the cabin. The GT also has a tendency of bobbing at higher speeds along with some sideway movements when pushed harder. But straight line stability at higher speeds is admirable and it can easily cruise at 150kph all day long, before hitting a top speed of 172kph. Apart from outright performance, VW also claims the TSI technology will payback with better fuel efficiency and after some spirited driving the GT returned 11.5kpl in the city and 14kpl on the highway.

The Polo GT TSI is available only in Highline trim which means it gets all the bells and whistles VW can offer on its hatchback. With the Polo GT TSI, VW is starting a new chapter in the hot hatch segment and with virtually no direct rival, the GT has a clear road up ahead. VW has priced the Polo GT TSI at Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), and is clearly charging its customers a premium for its latest technology and some gadgetry. If you had been waiting for a powerful hatch that’s good for a daily run, your search ends right here.

The numbers
1197cc, 4cyl, turbocharged petrol, 103bhp, 175Nm, 7DSG, 0-100kph in 10.85sec, 30-50kph in 1.89sec, 50-70kph in 2.48sec, 80-0kph in 25.35m/2.27sec, 12.75kpl, 172kph, Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
The GT brings in new tech, is genuinely quick than the other ‘hot hatches’ in the market and is efficient too. It’s the hot hatch VW should have bought here in the first place as it has the qualities to be the new torch bearer in the ‘powerful, everyday hot hatch’ segment.



Devesh Shobha

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