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New Volkswagen Polo GT TDI review, test drive

22nd Sep 2014 3:56 pm

The updated VW Polo GT TDI gets the new 103bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine, but not a whole lot else.

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  • Make : Volkswagen
  • Model : Polo

What is it?

It’s the facelifted version of VW’s Polo GT TDI – one of two flagship models, the other being the excellent GT TSI, that sit at the top of the Polo range. While the GT TSI remains exactly the same as before mechanically, the GT TDI ditches the old 1.6-litre TDI engine for VW’s new 1.5-litre TDI engine. While this motor produces 89bhp and 21.3kgm in the standard Polo, in this one it is tuned to produce 103bhp and 25.5kgm; exactly the same output as the old 1.6. The same version of this engine will also soon replace the 1.6 TDI in both the VW Vento and Skoda Rapid.

As with the last car, there isn’t much on the outside to tell you you’re in the range-topping GT version and not the standard car. There are black wing mirrors, a small black spoiler and some GT badges, but that’s it. The alloy wheels, however, have been retained from the pre-facelift car, and they do look sportier than the new ones on the standard Polo.

On the inside too, there’s not much that screams ‘more power’. You get aluminium pedals, door sill plates with GT badges, and two-tone, beige and grey upholstery. The dashboard is also all black rather than two-tone, and in place of the new silver centre console trim, the one you get is glossy black. The facelift’s new flat-bottomed steering wheel, however, is a very welcome addition to a variant with sporty pretensions.

What is it like to drive?

The reduced displacement hasn’t made the Polo GT TDI slow by any measure. Useable power comes in from as low as 1,600rpm and when the turbo spools up nicely at about 1,900rpm, the engine pulls cleanly to 4,500rpm before gradually losing steam near its very un-diesel-like 5,500rpm limiter. Flat-out, it’ll do 0-100kph in 11.52 seconds, which is slightly slower than the older car’s 10.51 seconds. Like its 89bhp counterpart and its 1.6-litre predecessor, this motor has a solid mid-range, and it’s fun to work the five-speed manual gearbox to keep it in this zone. We can’t be certain without a back-to-back drive, but the new engine doesn’t seem to have as much power at the top end as the old 1.6.

At the official test drive, VW had set up a handling circuit, which got our inner enthusiast excited about the possibility of reworked suspension for the GT TDI. Unfortunately, however, there has been no such change, and the car carries on with the standard setup. This is not to say the Polo is overly soft or floaty; in fact it handles quite tidily in any guise. It’s just that for a car that bears a sporty GT badge, we would have preferred a differently tuned ride and handling balance, one that erred more on the side of sportiness than comfort. Skoda did it with the Laura vRS, as did Ford with the old Fiesta S. Like before, however, the GT TDI’s front suspension does seem a touch firmer than the GT TSI’s, to compensate for the heavier engine.

Should I buy one?

Now that the standard Polo TDI gets a punchy 89bhp version of this same engine rather than the weak old three-cylinder unit from before, forking out the extra money for the GT version may not seem as worthwhile as before. This is emphasised by the fact that there are no other mechanical changes to the car, and very few cosmetic differences. However, the standard TDI Highline is also more expensive than before, so while the performance gap between it and the GT has narrowed, so has the price gap; it’s now just around Rs 60,000. Still, if you enjoy driving, we feel the extra 14bhp is worth the extra spend.

 

Volkswagen Polo
Volkswagen Polo

Rs 6.44 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)

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