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    Thread: Polo GT 1.2 TSI Test Drive Review

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      Polo GT 1.2 TSI Test Drive Review

      Had a quick test drive of the Polo 1.2 GT TSI today. Thanks to the salesperson, who called me and said, "Sir, I have the Polo 1.2 TSI test drive vehicle. I'm bringing it now, please be ready" .
      It seems there was a training session happening for the sales team, and he came straight after that, with notes on the car with him.

      I dropped all my work and got ready to drive the latest hot hatch to hit Indian shores. The car brought in was a White model, which had run just 340 kms till date. Here are my views on the car, and few comparisons with the FIAT Linea T-jet; the only other turbo Petrol that I've driven; and Linea MJD in some cases (as I had driven it just last week on same route).

      Route taken -: E-City -> Begur Road -> E-City -> Nice Road -> Bannerghetta Road -> Nice Road -> E-City

      Exteriors

      Looks same as the regular Polo, as you all know, and is certainly the best looking hatch in the country. Well proportioned, solid and timeless looks. The only thing I didn't like was the GT TSI stickering on the sides. This would the first thing I would remove from the car.

      Click image for larger version. 

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      Interiors

      Sheer Class all over the interiors. The build quality, fit and finish and the materials used are superb. The colour combination is also nice, though I would have chosen a full black theme instead of a beige colour for the lower dashboard onwards. I don't remember if the regular Polo is also the same (I drove that in 2010), but as per the SA (reading from his notes), there are subtle differences in the interiors. The buttons, feel of the door handle, power buttons, hand brakes, gear lever etc etc etc... the list of quality parts are never ending. I would go as far as saying, the best quality interiors in the whole segment and maybe above.

      Overall, the interiors looks simple, functional and feels classy. I wouldn't mind spending hours in the car.

      The seat used for the GT TSI is also very good. There is good lateral support and thigh support and I felt extremely comfortable the moment I sat on it. Ergonomics for the driver are spot on; with a whole range of adjustments for the seat and steering. I felt as if I had owned this car for a long time. This is in direct contrast to the Linea/Punto, where the ergonomics are all screwed up IMO.

      The colours and material used for the seat is also great and gives a sporty feel. The salesperson also gave a name for the material used, but I forgot it.

      Storage space for knick-knacks and bottles are also plenty for the front passengers and I love that. Kept my purse, 2 mobiles and I-card in the front slot and felt at home in the car.

      Space for the front passengers is great, but...... the rear passengers will suffer a lot for opting to travel in this car. With both me and SA comfortably seated, the VW driver who was seated behind had a tough time. I found him trying to sit sideways to liberate some space for his knees, but the central hump also was a hindrance.

      Overall, I would say it is a 2-seater car, as its sold in Europe.

      Overall visibility

      To be honest, it’s a mixed bag and I think the constraints were put in by the design of the car.

      The front view is hampered by a high dashboard. It can be offset by keeping the front seat high, but then the height of the front pane isn't too much. Its a matter of getting used to it. But I never had this problem with any other car before.

      The side view is good, and the excellent side view mirrors reduce blind spots and give huge coverage.

      The rear ...... well ... less said about it, the better. Parking sensors (maybe even camera) are definitely recommended; if its already not there.

      Music System

      For me, being a person who isn't great in the ICE department, it felt adequate, looks and feels nice and has a range of connectivity options. It also has the FIAT-esque feature of volume increase with speed. I switched off the audio as soon as I got onto Nice Road, since the car sounded heavenly.

      Driving Experience

      I own a Getz CRDi with a manual gearbox and have mostly driven manual gearboxes mostly.

      My experience with non-test drive AT was the DSG equipped Laura (Relative's car) on a family drive from Cochin-Kollam-Cochin, but the drive was done at relaxed pace and I was impressed with the ease of it. But on the whole, I was not too comfortable with ATs. I remember once I tried the using the manual triptronic on the Laura and applied the brake while doing a gear change. My left leg had impulsively searched for a clutch pedal. Luckily there were no vehicles behind. This incident was in the back of my mind when I started this drive.

      Back to topic, I took the keys from, pressed the unlock button, flipped open the key and started the car. I was half expecting the disappointing experience with the Polo & Fabia 3 cylinders; but thankfully, there was no "Shaking off the rust" kind of special effects in this. The engine was pretty silent at idle like a proper petrol engine car.

      Reset the trip meter, set MID to mileage indication, switched off ESR, released handbrake while stepping on the brakes and moved the gear selector from P to D. Left the brake and the vehicle started crawling. I was watching for the shifts from the DSG. first to second to first to second to third and upwards, there was no drama, no shakes, no lag. Super smooth. With a mild throttle, the gearshift happens at 1500 rpm, and at places where I drive the Getz in second, the DSG has selected 4th. Everything was butter smooth.

      Was driving towards Begur Road and thought of giving a bit more pedal. Saw the gearshifts happening at 2500 rpm. It also dropped a gear when initially given a bit of extra throttle. Pressed the throttle fully to overtake a slow lorry, and the DSG dropped down a couple of gears; but the gearshifts still happened at 3000 rpm.

      The road to Begur Road is bad, with lots of potholes and speed-breakers. The Polo cleared everything with ease and the DSG kept selecting the perfect gear to get moving from the slowdown. The ride quality is pretty good over bad roads, but not a patch on the Linea or Punto. It’s better than the Getz by a huge margin though.

      MID at this section showed me 11.5-12 kmpl.

      Next, I took it to NICE road. Decided on using S mode, towards Bannerghetta and triptronic/manual mode on the way back.

      In the S mode, the gearshifts happen near the redline and the car changes character. Its becomes more FTD. The sound of the car becomes beautiful at this point and I switched off the music. Its neither too intrusive nor too dull. Just the perfect acoustics to give some thrill to the driver and also ensures no headaches over a long drive. Did a speedo indicated 180kmph at this stretch. The torque range was impressive, but revving till the redline is just a waste. I think the power tapers after 5.5k rpm and any revving after that is useless. Also explains why I could do only a speedo indicated 180kmph in the limited space before lorries forced a slowdown. Just like any diesel turbo or the T-Jet, the mid-range is the place to be at. The mileage took a big hit though and the MID was showing 5.1 kmpl.

      Got off to Bannerghetta road and shifted back to D mode. The transformation of the vehicle was stunning. From a fast racer-type sound to a sedate city car. I loved this experience and was impressed.

      On the return journey, used the manual/triptronic mode and was conscious not to press the brake pedal this time. This time, I upshifted at 5.5k rpm, and the car was an altogether different beast. Touched a speedo indicated 210kmph. The gear changes even in this mode were lightning fast and can never be matched in a manual gearbox. So, I think the claimed top-speed of 192 kmph is perfectly possible in this car. The mileage also increased a bit with the MID now showing 5.6 kmpl.

      I was really impressed with the engine-gearbox combo. Also the ability of the car to mask speeds is impressive. 210 kmph on the Polo, felt like 150-160 on the Getz and a constant 150-160 on the Polo felt like a 100 on the Getz. Good for people like me who have a live, screaming and kicking speed control system in the car.

      Click image for larger version. 

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      Acceleration, Top Speed and Handling

      The progress from 0-160 kmph on the speedo was pretty quick. After that it was very slow progress in both the S mode and manual mode. Thats because the car in both modes will be on the 6th and 7th gears which are overdrive gears. Progress was painfully slow after that.

      There were a few factors which resulted in the difference in top speed achieved in the different modes

      1) Gradient of the road. It was more downwards when I was trying the manual mode
      2) I got a much longer stretch without traffic while doing the 210.
      3) There generally is a strong wind blowing at all times at the NICE road. Dont know which way it was blowing at that time. That also would have contributed to the difference.

      Now, compared to the T-Jet, the Polo is much faster. I could only touch a speedo-indicated 175 kmph on the Linea. But the mileage on the T-Jet had shown a cool 9-9.5 kmpl (average not instantaneous) at the same time on high revving.

      Now, where the Linea T-Jet/MJD really trumps the Polo is in the handling in the high speeds sections and curves. The Polo, unfortunately, has a very soft suspension and even on the NICE Road, the car was bouncing around. Not as much as the Getz though, but the FIATs beats the Polo fair and square here. This takes a lot of getting used to and such constant bobbing can also get tiring over long drives. I loved the way the Linea, even with the raised suspension, behaves in such cases. A stiffer suspension would have gone a long way to make the Polo a much desirable enthusiasts car.

      BRAKES

      A car with such superior performance definitely demands superior brakes. Almost everyone expected the car with comes with Discs all round, a la T-Jet. But the Polo has come with only front discs and rear drums. The SA told me that the brakes are modified to provide extra braking power.

      I had an incident on NICE road, which proved to me and the SA, the importance of brakes. While travelling at around 170kmph, a mini-lorry decided to cut lanes. I had no option other than to brake hard and honk hard. Luckily the lorry guy heard the honk, thanks to the double horn, and moved back into lane. If he hadn't moved back, I would have crashed straight into him. There was no drama from the car, but it lacks stopping power for the speeds it can reach. Maybe the brakes and tyres (185/60 R15 ??? Needs clarification) have yet to set-in before trying such high speeds, but I was terribly disappointed.

      I had had a similar incident on the T-Jet in Cochin , but the T-Jet had really impressed me and giving me the confidence to take the car to high speeds.

      The stats might give a different picture, but at the end of the day, we all go by our experiences. It would be nice if someone could post the stopping figures for the Polo and T-Jet here.

      Steering

      The steering is a EPS. It feels light, but connected at low speeds. But, it does not weigh up at higher speeds and one needs to get used to the feel, to confidently indulge in some high speed drives. It is direct though and the wheels respond to the smallest of inputs.

      I feel the HPS system of the FIATS and older FORDS are much better. It would be great if manufacturers could give a HPS system for such cars meant for enthusiasts, but economics might be the deterrent.

      To sum it up, here are the pros and cons (IMO) for the Polo 1.2 GT TSI

      Pros

      1) Exterior and Interior Looks
      2) Build Quality, Fit and Finish
      3) Gearbox
      4) Engine
      5) Exhaust note
      6) Front seats
      7) Boot space
      8) Horn
      9) Refinement

      Cons

      1) Rear seats and space
      2) Handling/Soft Suspension
      3) Overall poor Visibility
      4) Steering
      5) Brakes

      Overall, I feel that the car is a mixed bag, excelling in certain areas and needs improvement in critical places like steering and brakes. At 9.87 lakhs on-road Bangalore, it is expensive for a hatch, but this car was never meant to be sold in large numbers. With reports on the gearbox failures worldwide, albeit for higher torque engines, it would be prudent to wait and watch for ownership reports to come in.

      For those interested in fast petrol vehicle, the FIAT Linea T-Jet, which will be launched this month-end or so, would be another good choice. It has a lower top speed and slower 0-100 timings, but is an overall compelling option with its brilliant looks, features, space, HPS, all disc brakes, Ride and Handling package.

      Please feel free to ask questions if you need any clarifications.
      Last edited by Jack Sparrow; 4th May 2013 at 10:58. Reason: Added more details on OP's request. Added few pictures
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      Quote Originally Posted by krish View Post
      The salesperson also gave a name for the material used, but I forgot it.
      Milan Titanschwarz fabric

      Quote Originally Posted by krish View Post
      and the car was an altogether different beast. Touched a speedo indicated 210kmph. The gear changes even in this mode were lightning fast and can never be matched in a manual gearbox. So, I think the claimed top-speed of 192 kmph is perfectly possible in this car.
      Finally! So we do have a fast hot hatch after all. With tons of mod potential.

      Quote Originally Posted by krish View Post
      The Polo, unfortunately, has a very soft suspension and even on the NICE Road, the car was bouncing around.
      Either they've changed the suspension since I drove the 1.6 last. Or it must be the stock tyres that mostly will be over inflated. The Polo actually handles better than the Punto.

      Quote Originally Posted by krish View Post
      The steering is a EPS.
      Are you sure it's EPS? I thought it was EHPS! Just like the 1.6, while the 1.2s ran EPS.

      Can you ask the SA, if he's ok with coming to my place for a proper TD? We could Vbox the car too!
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      Wonderful review there krish. Thanks a lot for sharing.

      Now that speedo 210kmph tempted me #chennai boys - Shall we try this beast tomorrow?
      Never Say Never Again :)

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      Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
      Shall we try this beast tomorrow?
      Yes. But we need to have the car atleast for 3 hours
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      Thanks krish for the nice review.

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      Quote Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
      Either they've changed the suspension since I drove the 1.6 last. Or it must be the stock tyres that mostly will be over inflated. The Polo actually handles better than the Punto.
      As per the training given to them, the suspension set-up is same as the other 1.2. The tyres were not overinflated as it was not bouncing around on the slow speed sections. The Linea that I got for a test drive last week was overinflated (42 psi) and I took it to a pump to set it to 32psi before setting off on the drive.

      And yes, the steering is EPS as on the other Polos and not the one on the 1.6 .

      Let me check with him on whether he can come over till there.
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      210 kmph in a 1.2L hatch.
      Wow. I would not complain...

      But the FE figures of 5.x kmpl look a bit off. My Laura TSi (1.8L) does not go below 10kmpl even if I redline it often...
      1.2L *MUST* be more efficient.

      BTW, I read on team-bhp that there is no intercooler in this one? Really?
      They did that with the T-jet as well IIRC.
      I wonder why...


      Cheers!
      Last edited by anandpadhye; 3rd May 2013 at 16:20.

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      Quote Originally Posted by krish View Post
      the steering is EPS as on the other Polos and not the one on the 1.6 .
      All Polos, Ventos and Rapid have same steering. Heard that its electro-mechanincal steering and power motor disconnects after a set speed so its manual mechanical steering above that speed.

      Initial most batch of the Polo 1.2 (2010) had electro-hydraulic steering.

      Quote Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
      Either they've changed the suspension since I drove the 1.6 last. Or it must be the stock tyres that mostly will be over inflated. The Polo actually handles better than the Punto.
      Handling is such a thing that it can't be measured and different people have different opinions on handling of different cars. Some people even co-related the 'stability' with handling.
      Last edited by Jack Sparrow; 3rd May 2013 at 16:49.

    9. #9
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      Nope. All 1.2 Polos came with EPS. 1.6 came with EHPS. That I'm doubly sure of.

      Check my hatchback TD report on all hot petrol hatchbacks. Have clearly mentioned there.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Anandv267 View Post
      Yes. But we need to have the car atleast for 3 hours
      I dont think so its possible. Because there will be lot of demand for TD for this car and TD car will be less. Being weekend its will be tougher. If we want dedicated TD for GH then we should approach through the managers, official mails, etc and ask them to arrange for TD in non business hours as we did for rexton. So possibly Sunday afternoon post 2pm.

      Let's TD in city for now and see how it is, later we will try going thorough official way and take car for 3-4 hour drive for Mahabs probably.
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