Fun-to-drive. Power. Performance. These are some of the words that come to your mind when you think of a Volkswagen Polo. The car that started the premium hatchback culture in India is celebrating its 10 years in India. First showcased at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show as the 5th generation model, the Polo has been manufactured in India since 2009 and was launched for the first time in 2010, almost 10 years back when everyone was talking about affordability. However, Volkswagen was among the very first brands in India to offer a premium hatchback with the world-class built quality and safety.
To this date, Polo remains Volkswagen’s hottest and best-selling vehicle. So much is the affinity towards Polo by Volkswagen in India, that they launched a Polo based compact sedan called Ameo, a Polo based mid-size sedan called Vento, a Polo based crossover called Polo Cross, a Polo based hot hatch called Polo GTI and what not. So what makes the Polo such a success and important car for one of the world’s biggest car brand?
To start with, the Polo gets a timeless design that still looks fresh and new even after 10 years and minimal changes to the overall profile. The Polo was also the car that started the safety trend in a small car and was awarded a 4-star global NCAP rating. Then there are the innumerous engine iterations Volkswagen played with over the years, keeping the performance in mind. And lastly, the built quality, which is a benchmark in the segment, to say the least.
And not just the Indian market, Polo has been a success globally, with a production age spanning 44 years and more than 14 million units so far. One of the most known Polo to ever run on the roads was the Polo Mk 2 manufactured between 1981 and 1994. Over 2.7 million units of Mk 2 were sold and was available in three different body styles, a 3-door hatchback, a 2-door sedan called the Polo Classic and a 3-door hatchback.
The original Polo which was the 5th gen model made its debut in 2010 and received a facelift in 2012. Then in 2013 GT versions of the Polo were launched alongside the Cross Polo. While the Cross Polo was a rugged version of the Polo powered by the same set of 1.2-litre diesel and petrol engines, it later got a 1.5-litre diesel engine too.
The GT versions were a different ball game altogether. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they were the first hot hatch models to run on the Indian roads. There’s a 1.2-litre GT TSI petrol model producing 105 bhp and mated to a 7 speed DSG gearbox and the 1.5-litre GT TDI was a blast too.
Then in 2014, a 1.5-litre TDI engine was added to the facelifted Polo. In 2017, the real mean machine came to India. In an unexpected move, Volkswagen launched the monster of a vehicle called the Polo GTI equipped with a 1.8L TSI engine producing 192 PS of raw power and mated to a DSG gearbox.
Interestingly, Polo is not just a hatchback to transport people, but its performance has been utilized by Volkswagen’s Motorsports division to the core. Polo has been a part of Volkswagen’s Motorsports division since the very start in 2010 and has won many awards and races throughout the years. It has also been a part of the Indian national rally championship and won the POLO WRC title three years in a row from 2013 to 2016.