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2020 Volkswagen Polo TSI Review: Driver's Delight, But Does it Make Sense in a Sea of SUVs?

Volkwagen Polo TSI. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Volkwagen Polo TSI. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

While there are many cars to choose from in a budget of Rs 10 lakh in India, the Volkswagen Polo not only has to make sense as a hatchback but also make a case for itself amongst a sea of SUVs.

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Manav Sinha

It’s been 10 years since the Volkswagen Polo came to our market and over the years it’s seen a lot of iterations. Now, it comes with a 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, the variant that we are going to find out more about. But the thing is, over all these years the competition has changed, the requirements of the buyers have changed and the people who are buying a car in this price tag have a lot more options to choose from and that includes some “SUVs” as well. Having said that, let’s take a closer look at what this car is all about and whether you should be spending your money on it, or not.

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This Volkswagen Polo is perhaps the best iteration of the car that we have seen and yet it looks largely similar to what it did almost a decade ago. While looks are a subjective matter, I think the Polo looks handsome even today. And honestly, this design will look smart even after 5 years from now. You can attribute this to some of the fresh design elements like the new front bumper that’s quite similar to the Polo GTI.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

You also get side skirts on the car which actually start from the front bumper and go all the way back through the sides into what looks like a faux diffuser at the rear bumper. What would have made it better, though, is the inclusion of LED headlamps as that would have upped the premium quotient. Nevertheless, the Polo looks like it means business with the squat-down stance that makes it look subtly aggressive.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Once you step inside the Volkswagen Polo, well, this is perhaps the place where the Polo has started to show its age a little bit. It’s not as flamboyant as some of the other interior packages that you get in this price tag and the touch screen is certainly not the biggest - if that is something that you’re into - but still, it is practical, has loads of compartment spaces all around and it gets the job done. What really stands out, is the build quality and the quality of materials used which makes the cabin feel premium.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

And while the screen is a tad bit small, it has a great response and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Also, the Polo is packed with features like cruise control, cooled glovebox, automatic wipers and a rear AC vent as well. But then again, it misses out on things like a wireless charging pad, which I can still understand, but it now it also skips out on a rear parking camera and skipping that is something that I don’t get.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

And finally, coming to space for rear-seat passengers, well, it’s decent at best.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Now, remember the part where I said that this is the best iteration of the Polo ever? Well, that’s because of the engine that it has. It is smaller than before, it is now a 1.0-litre unit, it only has three cylinders and yet, it manages to put out a 110 hp and 175 Nm of torque. And yes, that makes it as quick as you expect it to be.

To give you an idea, this new engine actually makes more power than the older 1.2-litre engine it replaces and also, makes more power as well as has higher efficiency than the lower-spec 1.0-litre MPI engine that is also currently offered on the Polo.

So in simple words, it is a no brainer that this is the engine variant that you should be buying. In terms of performance, well, this is a turbocharged unit and as a result, the power actually starts kicking in post 2,000 RPM and the car feels happy post the 3,000 RPM mark. After that, you get a continuous surge of power right until almost 6,500 RPM. The engine feels refined but you will notice that it’s a 3-cylinder unit and not a 4-cylinder one thanks to the thrummy sound that it has.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Still, you will love driving the car because firstly, you have great visibility and you can adjust the driver seat height and also, the steering is both reach and tilt adjustable – all of which combine to give you great driving ergonomics. And secondly, the car just has a beautiful setup. Yes, the suspension is a bit on the stiffer side and the large 16-inch wheels don’t really help, but once the speed starts climbing, the Polo is an absolute joy to drive. There is minimal body roll and the lovely chassis eggs you on to go faster corner after corner.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Lastly, this is the first time that it is being offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox and as always, Volkswagen has got it right as well. The gear ratios are on point for both city and highway but it does take a bit of effort to operate the gear lever and I wish that wasn’t the case.

But at this point, I’m nitpicking, really. The Polo is hands down an easy recommendation for those who like spirited driving and rank it high in their list of priorities.

Volkwagen Polo TSI
(Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

So at the end of the day, even after all these years, the Volkswagen Polo does not compromise on the things that it has been known for. First and foremost, the build quality – fantastic, and secondly, the driving experience. The Polo is, even now, one of the best drivers-car in this budget. And if these are things that you are looking for, well, look no further than the Volkswagen Polo. And yes, that includes choosing the Polo over the other SUVs that can be bought in this budget because none of them come close to the driving experience that you get with this hatchback.


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