New Polo: Same But Different
Although subtle on the outside, Volkswagen’s updated Polo is brimming with better safety technology and highly-efficient engines.
When it comes to the top-sellers like the Polo, the company is somewhat more cautious. The result is very modest visible changes to the new Polo. It’s subtle but effective in keeping the Polo in the game with the sharp ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208.
The Polo Hatchback is undoubtedly one of the most successful hatchbacks in South Africa, at least according to Naamsa’s monthly new vehicle sales figures. SA is one of the most important Polo markets, third on the global list after China and Russia. There is good reason in leaving the Polo largely unchanged. Loyalists and new fans alike will likely appreciate this move.
VW had a closer look at the Polo’s competition and figured they had to raise their game in the light car segment. It’s not that sales were slowing down; SA is the third biggest Polo (Including Vivo) market in the world. The point is to try and keep competition at bay and stop them from making any inroads that could potentially threaten VW’s market leadership in the B-segment hatch market.
The Volkswagen Polo hatch was launched locally in 2010 meaning a facelift from the Wolfsburg manufacturer was inevitable. A two and a half hour drive to Dullstroom led us to discover the new Polo’s hidden talents. These lay within the underpinnings and electronics.
So what’s new?
The new Polo has been enhanced both visually and technically. There are new front and rear bumpers as well as that now obligatory facelift tweak - optional LED lights. The result is a bolder front end and mildly tweaked rear. The tail pipe is now visible too, adding to the sporty dynamic look VW was in search for.
To the naked eye it all looks minor but under the skin VW engineers have made a host of radical changes.
The interior stands out, clean cut with premium ambience, in-line with the Golf.
Geeks will feel at home in the cabin. There is a new Infotainment system, which works like a smartphone as you swipe your finger across it and you can use it to select functions such the stereo and Bluetooth phone connection. VW has also introduced its new MirrorLink system to make it easy to pair a phone to the cars and allows the screen to display all of the apps from the phone on the touch screen.
Safety is of paramount importance and the new Polo is equipped with Automatic Post-Collision Braking, to lessen the effect of an accident.
Motors and 'boxes
Aside from the electronic technology VW has revised the new Polo’s engine line-up, so the old 1.4 and 1.6 petrol has been eliminated in favour of the highly efficient 1.2 TSI engine. For now SA buyers only get the 1.2 TSI engine with a 66kW and 81kW power output. The 1.2 TSI is not a ball of fire but offers strong performance, excellent economy as well as power to match similarly powered rivals. The 1.2 TSI 81kW is enticing but VW expects the 1.2 TSI 66kW engine to be the most popular. Thanks to the new MQB platform, the Polo rides with more sophistication and handles corners in a competent and capable manner, but with none of the fun and sharpness of a Ford Fiesta. The interior stands out, clean cut with premium ambience, in-line with the Golf.
Thanks to the new MQB platform, the Polo rides with more sophistication and handles corners in a competent and capable manner, but with none of the fun and sharpness of a Ford Fiesta. The petrol powered 1.2 TSI we sampled, ironed out rippled roads with ease and power delivery has that grown up feeling of refinement expected of a VW.
The engine is happy to rev and cruises along happily. It’s linked to a light and precise 6-speed manual gearbox. The addition of a DSG box will give the new Polo added appeal and even potentially sway Golf buyers towards the Polo hatch. Quick shifts and sight engine growl characterise the Polo DSG. GTI and diesel enthusiasts can expect the Polo GTI and 1.4TDI in the near future. Expect these during the first half of 2015.
Volkswagen may have pulled of a comprehensive update of the Polo, but we feel it needed to be more daring with the looks and driving revisions in order to give its competition no chance. As usual, there are three models specifications on offer and these include Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Customers who want rugged Polo can opt for the new CrossPolo.
A dominant player
The sharpened Polo has raised the bar in its segment. It’s an accomplished car. It now offers features that can only be found in larger, more expensive vehicles, not forgetting the now standard three-year/45 000km service plan.
Since its launch in 2010 the Polo hatch has consistently been the second best-selling passenger car in South Africa. In 2013 the hatch was bought by 23 501 customers. Supplementing its high sales volume is the top selling Polo Vivo which was also launched in the same year. The Vivo has been the best-selling car in SA since 2010, highlighting the Polo’s massive appeal.
Prices start at R188 300 for the 1.2 TSI 66kW Trendline reaching R247 800 for the 1.2 TSI 81kW Highline.
by Tanyaradzwa Nyamajiyah
Tanyaradzwa Nyamajiyah is a freelance motoring journalist and attended the new Volkswagen Polo launch.