First established in India in 2010, the Volkswagen Polo is more than a generation old, but it has been in a continuous state of evolution. Over time, it has been powered by no less than eight distinct engines. But, it’s the 2020 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI that gets the most accomplished engine yet.

An International Engine of the Year award winner, the 999cc direct-injection TSI gas is both densely packed with technology and finely engineered to deftly balance the conflicting requirements of both power and fuel economy. So how does this stack up on paper?

When compared with the previous 1.2 TSI ranked at 105hp, the new 1.0 makes 110hp. And despite its smaller capacity, it makes an identical 175nm of torque, albeit by a slightly higher 1,750rpm (vs 1,500rpm for its 1.2 TSI).

What is important is that the new 2020 Polo 1.0 TSI gets a 6-speed manual gearbox for the first time, to fortify driver appeal. What is missing though – besides a diesel option – is VW’s quick-shifting 7-speed DSG or twin-clutch automatic?

Apart from the engine, little has changed on the 2020 Polo. VW’s infant was given a facelift lately, and despite its age, it doesn’t look dated. The perfectly proportioned contour is classic and still exudes that solid Teutonic feel. The sharp details elicit long appreciative looks, and that which adds to the appeal is the brand new GTI-like nose. There’s also an additional bit of cladding that extends across the board and round to the back, merging with what looks like a faux diffuser.

What’s it like to drive?

Let’s start with functionality, which by any yardstick is very strong. The tug from 3,000rpm to around 6,000rpm delivers a strong push at the small of your back, and change gear up and there is not a great deal of let-up in performance. Acceleration is so strong, the 1.0-litre does the 0-100kph sprint in just 9.97sec, which makes it one of the fastest hatchbacks around. Just Fiat’s Abarth Punto was faster but with most of the hot hatches discontinued, the Polo 1.0 TSI stands. The routine 1.2 Swift comes closest but it is a still a full two seconds slower at the race to 100kph, and that is despite its enormous 190 kg weight gain. Additionally, find the ideal street and the 1.0 TSI will strike a maximum rate of 192kph – gives you a good idea of just how much grunt there’s at the engine.

The 1.0 TSI is also a whole second quicker to 100kph compared to the outgoing DSG- automatic-equipped 1.2, and from the time you reach 160kph, the gap into the 1.2 is more than 6sec! Contest for the Polo 1.0 TSI is far more likely to come from Hyundai’s brand new Grand i10 Nios, which has a 100hp turbo-petrol too. To provide some mention, the Venue powered using the same engine and also a 6-speed gearbox will the dashboard to 100kph in 11.24sec.

Acceleration, however, is a bit flat and power doesn’t come in strong until you pass 2,500rpm. So in-gear acceleration is not very strong, with 20-80kph in third taking 12.3sec and 40-100kph in fourth taking 14.7sec. To exemplify, the discontinued Baleno RS that also had a 1.0 turbo, did the exact same in 9.48sec and 12.53sec.

Rowing through the gearbox to keep the engine on the boil adds tremendously to the driving experience and the well-chosen equipment ratios squeeze the most out of this compact engine. The 6-speed gearbox, however, is not one of VW’s best units; it takes a little bit of effort to slot the well-finished knob through the gate, and on occasion feels a bit notchy.

Lopping off one cylinder has additionally jeopardized refinement to some extent and the discordant beat of the three-cylinder engine is evident. Idle is somewhat lumpy and you can feel a few pulses coming through the clutch The deficiency of a balancer shaft means it certainly is not as easy as Ford’s 1.5 three-cylinder Dragon – that is still the benchmark for refinement – and 1.2 TSI owners will clearly miss the slick smooth answers and smooth punch of this bigger four-cylinder unit.

However, where the Polo 1.0 TSI’s hits it out of the park, again, is about corners. Yes, the steering is light, but additionally, it is direct, slack-free and it pops up nicely as you move faster. The new Polo also enters corners with a good deal more confidence. It effortlessly carries pace into corners, so the turn-in is sharp, and body controller is adequate on its rigid springs, along with the big wheels and grippy tyres really let you maintain cornering speeds upward. Utilize the powerful mid-range of this motor to fly from corners and you are guaranteed a big smile.

It rides nicely. There’s a sign of stiffness at the springs and that keeps you aware of medium-sized lumps, but the suspension manages to round-off sharp borders quite well, and unlike earlier, large craters aren’t much of an issue either. Even the ground clearance is ample.

Keen drivers will really enjoy the well-rounded functionality of the new Polo 1.0 TSI, which really comes together as a great driver’s car. Actually, for sheer driving pleasure, you won’t get anything more entertaining for your cash.

The official figure stands in 18.24kpl, so a real-world figure of between 11 and 12 on our town bicycle.

What’s it like inside?

It is not surprising that the 2020 Polo is very comfortable about the inside. The cabin, in actuality, feels like it’s been carried over unaltered, with only a few crucial features added. Purists will adore the functional, solid and uncluttered design which, like the exterior, has stood the test of time.

The 6.5-inch touchscreen isn’t very big but also the quality of the screen and touch purpose is great. In fact, using the system is fairly smooth, and Apple CarPlay works especially well with it. Bigger isn’t always better.

Volkswagen Polo Interior
Volkswagen Polo Interior

People who love driving will love the very sporty and crystal clear instrument panel using its white-on-black numbering along with the monotone principal display.

Also, something you can not quite ignore is your Polo’s solid build. The’thunk’ when you closed the door speaks volumes concerning the way the car has been put together, and what also lends an air of quality is the buttons are built to a very large standard. In reality, quality levels are so good, the pieces used on the inside may easily pass muster on a car or an SUV that’s twice the price of the Polo… plus they often do.

The grey-on-black themed cabin with all the gunmetal grey inset, nevertheless, looks dull. Volkswagen has used chrome highlights and piping’ sparingly, and with all the chairs finished in black too, the cabin could have done with some brightening up.

That aside, the driving position is excellent. The steering adjusts for reach and rake, the chair base is nice and broad, although a bit more shoulder support could have been appreciated, seat comfort, generally speaking, is quite good.

Ever since the Polo premiered, rear-seat space hasn’t been its strongest point, which reality has been further accentuated with the advent of competition with more spacious back seats. But that said, the Polo’s rear seat is not a bad place to be, especially if you are not very tall. Thigh support is good, the cushioning is just right and the backrest is well reclined. You do miss a fundamental elbow break, although you will find air-con vents, there aren’t any USB slots; just a 12-volt socket remains present.

The boot is nice and wide, and in 280 litres, it’s decently sized also. People who are looking for extra cargo space can reverse the back seat.

In regards to apparel, VW has deleted a few essential products. There is no rear parking camera, no ESP (stability control) and no LEDs. What you do get on the 2020 Polo Highline Plus are things like a cooled glovebox, cruise control, voice controls, and one-touch electricity windows.

If you buy one?

If you’re looking for space, comfort and practicality, the newest 2020 Polo 1.0 TSI isn’t the hatchback for you. However, shift your gaze to the driver’s seat (which is where many owners in this course sit), along with the 2020 Polo suddenly appears as a front runner. Yes, the motor needs to be worked to get the most from it, it’s not quite as easy as a four-cylinder, and some important kit has been deleted. Nonetheless, if you are looking at enjoying your time behind the wheel, the ageing Polo using a brand new heart is a compelling package.

Outright performance is what sets this car apart, and right now there is no other faster mainstream hatch. It’s stable at speed, enjoys to tackle corners, and goads you to drive it quickly. To put it differently, this is a fantastic driver’s car with the ability to plant a big grin on your face.

It feels solid both inside and out and you know that even after five years of hard usage, it will not seem the worse for wear.

At Rs 8.02 lakh, it isn’t too far off the auto that now dominates this course – the Swift ZXi+ at Rs 7.58 lakh. For the identical money, you can find a compact SUV also but that will not be half as much fun once the newness wears away.


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