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Old 28th October 2013, 20:41   #1
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Default Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

The VW Polo 1.6L GT TDI has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 8.08 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• A solid, well-built European hatchback
• Clean and timeless styling. Absolutely no quirkiness
• 1.6L TDI delivers excellent performance, driveability & fuel economy. An all-rounder
• Nice 5-speed MT for the purists (no compulsory AT like the 1.2L TSI)
• Mature suspension offers a balanced ride & handling package
• Accommodating 280 liter boot

What you won't:

• Most expensive B2 segment hatchback today. Priced in the vicinity of C2 sedans & compact SUVs
• 1.2L TSI turbo-petrol offers a DSG gearbox and ESP for the same $$$
• Exterior is indistinguishable from the regular Polo. No sporty bodykit la Liva TRD & Polo SR
• Mediocre rear bench legroom and a large floor hump
• Missing essentials (driver armrest of the Vento, 60:40 splitting rear seat, dead pedal, seatback pockets)
• VW's sub-par dealership & service experiences


Last edited by Rehaan : 31st October 2013 at 18:04.
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Old 28th October 2013, 20:41   #2
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

This report will only focus on the Polo GT TDI, since the other Polo variants have already been reviewed by Team-BHP. Review links for easy reference:

Polo 1.2L Petrol & Diesel (Volkswagen Polo : Test Drive & Review)

Polo GT TSI (Volkswagen Polo 1.2L GT TSI : Official Review)
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Old 28th October 2013, 20:41   #3
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review



Right after driving the Vento in 2010, I'd made the following statement:
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Note to VW : Please disregard our earlier requests for a Polo 1.6 Petrol. We now want a Polo 1.6 diesel.
It's 3 years since and VW have taken their own sweet time, despite having the car & engine ready. Well, India's most powerful diesel hatchback is finally here.

Things are suddenly looking up for enthusiasts in the hatchback segment. No longer are puny 1.2L petrol & 1.3L diesels the only available engine options. The Hyundai i20 CRDi is quick, while the Liva 1.5L TRD is fun to drive. The Polo GT TSI petrol was unveiled earlier this year and now, the fast yet practical Polo GT TDI enters the hot hatch scene.

The Polo offers all of 4 engine options today, the cheaper 3-cylinder 1.2L petrol & diesel, and the premium 4-cylinder TSI & TDI motors. Count the discontinued 1.6L naturally-aspirated petrol and the Polo wins the award for the most engines to be shoehorned into the engine bay of any Indian hatchback. Volkswagen doesn't have any fresh sub-10 lakh cars on the horizon, hence it's expanding the Polo range as much as possible. While the TDI & TSI are welcome additions to the lineup, VW should avoid destined-to-fail versions like the Cross Polo.

The GT TDI is India's most expensive B2 segment hatchback and is sold in 1 variant only. Due to its 1.6L engine size, the GT TDI attracts a whopping excise duty of 27% (the same as a VW Passat). The 1.2L Polos, on the other hand, pay merely 12% excise to the government. This additional 15% tax burden of the GT TDI results in an extra cost of nearly 1 lakh rupees. That explains why the TSI turbo-petrol can offer a cutting edge DSG automatic transmission and ESP at the same price. Still, the GT TDI costs only ~90K more than the 3-cylinder 1.2L TDI Highline, which looks overpriced in comparison. Further, the Polo GT TDI is 2 lakhs cheaper than the Vento Highline diesel. For those who don't need the increased boot space or rear seat legroom of its sedan sibling, the Polo GT TDI can be a sensible alternative. Rumour mills suggest that VW will be introducing a 1.5L diesel next year as a replacement to the 1.6L TDI. It might be priced lower as the 1.5L makes the Polo eligible for the 12% excise slab. On the flip side, the 1.5 mill is expected to churn out lesser horsepower & torque than the GT TDI.

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Many will be cross-shopping between the GT TSI & GT TDI, both of which are targeted toward enthusiasts. My pick would be the GT TDI due to the following reasons:

• The diesel is fast. It has enough power to keep the enthusiast in you happy
• TDI makes the same horsepower & significantly higher torque
• Diesel's fuel-economy will be noticeably higher. It's a double whammy for the TSI as petrol is the more expensive fuel
• 5-speed MT for old school enthusiasts. This would be the primary reason I'd pick the TDI over the TSI
• There are strong, valid concerns over the long-term reliability of the TSI's DSG gearbox
• TSI petrol currently has long waiting periods
• We can safely assume that the diesel's resale value will be superior to that of the TSI

Of course, if you are absolutely keen on an automatic, then the choice is obvious.

From the time of its original launch, the Polo has seen an improvement in equipment levels. Climate control, steering-mounted audio controls, electric ORVMs and USB / AUX audio inputs have been added to the higher variants. I don't understand why the 60:40 splitting rear seat was silently removed though, and why VW couldn't give the GT TDI that comfy driver armrest from the Vento. Also, the Polo GT TDI can't touch the more spacious i20 CRDi on equipment. Among other things, the Hyundai i20 offers you niceties such as rear disk brakes, DRLs, keyless entry & go, electrically folding ORVMs, auto headlamps & wipers and a reversing camera. One of the reasons that Hyundai can do this at a lesser price is the lower 12% excise duty that it's eligible for.

Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review-vw-polo-gt-tdi-feature-list.png

The Polo is a great looking hatchback, its clean and proportionate lines winning it many fans. That said, I wish VW kitted the GT TDI with a sporty body kit. Look at the wonderful job that Toyota managed with the Liva TRD (Link (Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review)). This is a major downside, as it's hard to tell the GT TDI from the regular Polo.

A design that ages well. Thankfully, no cheesy stickers on the C-Pillar (like the GT TSI):


GT badge added to the radiator grill:


Smoked headlamps look swell. The fog lights are quite powerful:


“Estrada” 15" rims with 185/60 rubber. Noisy Apollo tyres on India's most powerful hatchback. For the kind of performance on tap, I'd recommend superior quality 195 patch tyres from the after-market:


GT TDI wears a prominent, sportier rear spoiler (identical to the GT TSI):


You'll notice VW doing away with the Polo and Volkswagen badges. This car sports only the GT & TDI nomenclature on its tail:


A sticker perfectly suited to its character. Also visible are 2 of the 4 rear parking sensors:


Have your cake & eat it too! Fast performance + diesel economy:


A true wolf in sheep's clothing. Available in 3 body colours (white, red & black). VW should offer more options:

Last edited by Rehaan : 31st October 2013 at 18:05.
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Old 28th October 2013, 20:42   #4
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Interiors are nearly identical to the regular Polo:


Leather-wrapped steering wheel is great to hold. A rare hatchback that offers rake as well as reach adjustment:


Polo got steering-mounted controls in September 2012. The unassigned “voice command” button functions as a mute button instead:


A diesel hatchback that is surprisingly revv-happy:


MID provides all the usual data including instant & average fuel consumption, distance to empty, countdown to next service, digital speedometer, average speed, external temperature, odometer, time etc.


MID reset button located under the RHS stalk:


New fabric upholstery that VW calls 'Milan Titanschwarz' (same as the GT TSI):


GT badging on the door sill guard:


Notice the piano-black finish surrounding the center console:


RCD 320 head-unit with Bluetooth, USB, Aux-in, CD, SD Card slot and 4 speakers:


Earlier this year, VW started equipping the Polo's Highline variants with climate control. It has a dust & pollen filter:


Neat short-throw gearshift (although the Polo 1.2L MT petrol has a slicker box). Fits perfectly in your hand:


Sporty aluminium finish pedals with rubber inserts for grip. No dead pedal:


Leather-wrapped handbrake:


Our test GT TSI's headlamp switch had a nice touch of silver. Curiously missing on the GT TDI:


Useful seatback pockets are conspicuous by their absence in such an expensive hatchback:


VW quietly removed the 60:40 splitting rear seat from the Polo:


Yes, the spare is an alloy wheel:

Last edited by GTO : 4th December 2013 at 11:14.
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Old 28th October 2013, 20:42   #5
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review



The regular Polo 1.2L diesel has a 3-cylinder motor with 74 BHP & 180 Nm of torque on tap. It suffers from significant turbo-lag, has a narrow power band and is largely unrefined, whereas this 4-cylinder 1.6L TDI is the diametric opposite. The GT TDI is acceptably refined, has excellent driveability and offers superb open-road performance too. How the tables have turned. The 3-cylinder diesel was the main reason not to buy a Polo over its competitors. With the GT TDI, the sweet 1.6L diesel is the selling point. Remember, this 1.6L motor is what makes the Vento competent in the higher C2 sedan category. Among cheaper B2 hatchbacks, it's easily the segment leader.

The Polo GT TDI & TSI are the most powerful sub-10 lakh hatchbacks in India today, making an identical 104 horses. Where the GT TDI scores over its petrol counterpart is the best-in-class 250 Nm of torque (a 75 Nm advantage on the TSI). The GT TDI's torque to weight ratio of 216 Nm / Tonne is superior to that of the new Skoda Octavia and on par with VW's flagship sedan, the Passat! To put things in perspective, the torque / weight ratio of the GT TSI turbo-petrol is 154 Nm / Ton.

The Polo with a 104 BHP diesel is an India-only offering:


Same engine in the Polo Cup cars was tuned to 129 BHP & mated to a 6-speed MT (Related Thread (Difference between Polo R Cup's 1.6 TDI and Vento/Rapid's 1.6 TDI)):


Start the engine and there is a certain amount of clatter. Once warmed up, things get better, though the engine remains fairly audible at all times. It is a common-rail diesel, yet it sounds like the Laura’s old 1.9 Pumpe Dse engine. While sound levels are acceptable inside the cabin, it's quite noisy on the outside. In comparison, the i20's 1.4L CRDi purrs like a kitten.

Turbo-lag is at minimal levels. The Polo GT TDI is very easy to live with in an urban driving environment. Driveability is excellent and you certainly won't be using the gearbox as much as in the 1.3L MJD-powered competition (or the i20 CRDi). The engine tugs without complaint from as low as 1,200 rpm, making it effortless to close gaps in traffic sans a downshift. Leave aside speed-breakers; slip the clutch marginally and you can move from a standstill in 2nd gear itself. 3rd gear is also a vital commuting tool and pulls away happily from speeds in the low 20s. You might buy the GT TDI for its performance, yet it's the practical nature that makes the car endearing to own.

Take the GT TDI out on the open road and the first thing you'll notice is its surprisingly revv-happy nature for a diesel. Floor the pedal and there is a subtle turbo kick, followed by strong acceleration. The engine really comes into its own past 2,000 rpm. Sprinting capability is solid and the Polo 1.6L easily matches the legs of sedans from a class above. 1.3L cars like the Swift diesel aren't even in contention here, they're left behind in the dust. The 1.6L impresses with its spread of torque. Nowhere in the regular revv range are you left wanting. The diesel is responsive and the strong mid-range results in quick highway overtaking moves. The engine revvs clean right up to 5,100 rpm. She strains after that, but if you insist, the needle will climb on to ~5,400 rpm. This is a more usable rpm range compared to most other diesels which run out of breath at 4,000 rpm.

Whilst cruising at a 100 kph in 5th gear, the rpm needle is hovering at ~2,100 rpm (turbo zone). If you want to overtake, merely press the accelerator to access instant pep (no need to downshift at all). It’s a similar situation when you are cruising about town in 3rd gear at 50 kph (again, revv needle above 2,000 rpm). Floor the pedal and power delivery is instantaneous. Learn to keep the engine on the boil and you can really make fast progress on the expressway. High speed cruising ability is exemplary. At speeds where the 1.3L MJD hatchbacks start running out of breath, the Polo GT TDI is eager to accelerate. I must add that our GT TDI test car appeared to be more revv-happy and smoother at higher revvs than the Vento TDI. This could be down to it using synthetic oil, perhaps, as the engines and state of tune are identical on paper.

No way is the power delivery linear though. There is a sudden surge after 2,000 rpms. Don’t make your passengers uncomfortable by frequently pushing them in the back. As impressive as the GT TDI is, the GT TSI turbo-petrol might be slightly faster in the dash to 100. Reason? Lighting quick upshifts from its DSG gearbox, along with 7 closer stacked gear ratios. No 5-speed manual can match that. Speaking of the manual transmission, the GT TDI's gearing is spot-on and VW has perfectly chosen the ratios. The short-throw gearbox has well-defined gates and slots in nicely, albeit the one on the 1.2L petrol MT is smoother. The clutch pedal's range is on the longer side and it's not super light either. The clutch does require medium-level effort to use. Just like in the Vento diesel, a negative point of the GT TDI is the excessive drivetrain movement felt on the pedals (clutch especially). Pedal vibration is on the higher side, only magnified by higher revvs.

German turbo-diesels are usually fuel efficient and the GT TDI should easily match the numbers reported by Vento diesel owners. Translated, 13 - 16 kpl in the city (depending on traffic conditions) and 17 - 20 kpl on the highway. Big diesel hatchbacks offer you the best of both worlds, good power & fuel economy (unlike powerful petrol hatchbacks). Strangely, the Polo GT TDI's ARAI rating of 19.7 kpl is lower than the Vento's 20.5 kpl. I'm going to put this down to different test conditions (varying temperature, fuel quality etc.).

The Polo seems to be running a softer suspension setup than the Vento. This results in compliant ride quality, including over rough roads. With speed, the ride only gets better and the suspension can flatten the worst of Indian highways. Bump absorption is satisfactory and passenger comfort of tall order (although the suspension can get noisy). Overall, the car has mature road manners by hatchback standards. The chassis has good poise and grip levels are strong. Pushing hard will see her slowly understeer in an entirely predictable manner (no nasty surprises). It can be fun on long straights & fast corners alike. However, on the limit, the GT TDI does feel more nose heavy than the 1.2L Polos. Us enthusiasts will wish for stiffer springs & dampers on this variant. There is more body roll than expected of a hot hatchback. Push hard and the suspension's softer tune becomes very obvious. This also leads to a little more pitching under hard acceleration (i.e. the nose tends to lift more), which amplifies the feelings of acceleration & turbo kick. VW probably chose this setup as it brings better ride quality (what the masses want) and is easier to live with on a daily basis. Still, there isn't a doubt that the Punto remains the benchmark in terms of high speed dynamics......and steering feel.

The steering is super light while parking, and stays light all through city speeds. This not only makes piloting the Polo effortless in congested cities (turning radius = 4.7 meters), but also makes her feel very manoeuvrable in tight traffic. Go out to play and the Polo's electric power steering can spoil the enthusiast' recipe. When cruising over 100 kph, I found the steering lighter than I’d have wished for. The steering is fairly accurate, but don't expect much feedback of it. If only the GT TDI was equipped with a proper hydraulic unit.

The brake pedal is easy to modulate and overall braking action is decent. It's not exceptional though. That additional torque can catch you out at times, and you'll wish that VW gave the GT TDI beefier braking hardware than the Polo's regular variants. To me, it's a letdown that the Polo 1.6 doesn't get bigger anchors at the front & disc brakes at the back.

I recommend enthusiasts an upgrade to superior quality tyres, immediately after taking delivery. The 185/60 Apollo Aceleres aren't up to the job for hard driving. Better tyres will noticeably improve the handling & dynamics package. They could be less noisy too.

The MID’s gearshift indicator in action. If you are in too high a gear at too low a speed, or vice versa, the gearshift indicator will suggest what gear you should shift to, along with an up / down arrow (suggesting an upshift / downshift). In this picture, it's telling me to downshift to 4th:


Thanks to Parrys for shooting the pictures!

Last edited by Rehaan : 31st October 2013 at 18:35.
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Old 28th October 2013, 20:43   #6
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Chief Competitors of the VW Polo GT TDI

VW Polo 1.2L GT TSI

What you’ll like:
• Enthusiastic, high-revving 1.2L TSI engine. An excellent performer
• 7-speed DSG gearbox is a flawless match to the sporty motor
• A well-built European hatchback with clean, timeless styling
• Mature suspension offers a balanced ride & handling package
• Safety kit includes electronic stability program, hill-hold feature, dual airbags and ABS
• Accommodating 280 liter boot

What you won’t:
• Long-term reliability concerns over the DQ200 DSG transmission
• Cutting-edge engine & gearbox tech make it a pricey hatchback
• Exterior is indistinguishable from the regular Polo. No sporty bodykit ( la Liva TRD & Polo SR)
• Ordinary rear bench legroom. Comparable to the likes of the Maruti Ritz
• VW's substandard dealership & service experiences

Toyota Liva 1.5L TRD Sportivo

What you'll like:
• Punchy 1.5L petrol engine offers fast performance & fabulous driveability
• Body kit is well-designed. Sporty, but not flashy
• Spacious interiors can easily carry 5 adults
• Super light steering, gearshift & clutch. Effortless to drive within the city
• Well-tuned suspension. Neutral handling and a comfortable ride
• Toyota’s fuss-free ownership experience & excellent after-sales

What you won't:
• Light steering with zero feedback is a fly in the enthusiast ointment
• Dated design lacks the contemporariness of the i20, Swift etc.
• Missing equipment (No fog lamps, electric mirrors, rear defogger and rear wash / wipe)
• Interior, though improved, is still economy-grade. Unconventional dashboard too
• Cost-cutting is glaringly obvious in many areas

Hyundai i20 1.4L CRDi

What you'll like:
• Top notch quality inside out. New Fluidic styling works
• Class-leading equipment list (auto headlamps & wipers, keyless entry & go, reverse camera, electric folding ORVMs etc.)
• Fast, fuel-efficient diesel engine mated to a smooth 6 speed gearbox
• Among the more spacious hatchbacks. Practical 295 liter boot too
• 5 star safety equipment & rating

What you won't:
• Light, vague & sensitive steering at speed
• Highway dynamics are unfitting of a premium hatchback
• Diesel i20 carries an unusually high difference of ~1.5 lakhs (on the road) over the petrol
• Asta variants are priced in the vicinity of bigger, more powerful sedans
• Hyundai's service costs are usually higher than that of the competition

Last edited by GTO : 28th October 2013 at 22:07.
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Old 28th October 2013, 21:10   #7
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews!
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Old 28th October 2013, 21:56   #8
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Thanks GTO for the crisp review and pictures.

Regarding the nose heavy feeling do you think VW has equipped the GT TDI with the same suspension set up like the 1.2 tdi's ?

Now its time to TD one .( was waiting for the TBHP review )
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Old 28th October 2013, 22:06   #9
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Awesome crisp review GTO.

one thing perplexes me no end. Given our motoring scene, a diesel auto hatch and midsizer are almost perfect, yet no one seems to have made this combo available. I surely cant be just cost.

for ex. Maruti sells the swift ZDI at around 7L - add an auto tranny and upgrade the engine to the VGT spec (90 bhp) and you still have a pricing at par with the polo TDI.
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Old 28th October 2013, 22:11   #10
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Hottest indian hatch at the moment I can say but it is sad to know that it's missing a lot of features like 60:40 splitting rear seat, L shaped rear headrest(which increases rear visibility when in lowest position), and many other features that it deserves for the pricetag it has got. But still I feel its worth paying that much for what it has to offer under the hood.
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Old 28th October 2013, 23:46   #11
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Once again Thank You GTO for another excellent review.
The sentence where you have mentioned the power delivery isn't linear, there is that "surge" post 2k rpm; is the surge the same which one experiences in the previous gen Swift diesel ?
Is it wilder or tamer than the swift ?

-Bhargav
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Old 29th October 2013, 00:37   #12
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

This was the review i have been waiting for since the confirmed new for the GT TDi had arrived. Excellent review GTO.
Well why haven't you given a comparison with the Punto 90bhp?
I have the following queries-
1. In comparison to the punto how did you find the handling of the polo gt tdi?
2. Any news of VW introducing this beast with a 6- speed manual transmission?
3. The Punto feels very sturdy and is quite heavy. Does the GT Tdi also have the solid feel?
4. What would be your pick amongst the GT Tdi, Punto 90HP, I20 1.4 Crdi, Liva sportivo and the GT Tsi?
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Old 29th October 2013, 08:50   #13
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Great hatch but some vital equipment missing.

The Polo GT TDI also loses height adjustable seatbelts which the vento tdi has.
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Old 29th October 2013, 08:54   #14
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Been dreaming of Vento engine in a hatch for a long time. These days, I am all about owning a hatch. Sedan has become a pain to use in crowded cities like Ahmedabad. I am yet to wait till Jan for my Punto to complete 3 yrs before i can change, but whenever it is, Polo GT Tdi is top of the list.

@asit, we own a punto 76bhp and i20 1.4 crdi, i drove the polo recently and all i can say is, its a literal upgrade for someone like me, from 1.3 76bhp Punto to polo 1.6. Since my td was only within the city, i wont be able to say much on its highway manners or speed test etc. But ya, Punto rocks when it comes to highway manners.

Hope to get a GT in my garage soon.

Last edited by GTO : 29th October 2013 at 14:41. Reason: Typo
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Old 29th October 2013, 09:19   #15
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Default Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6L GT TDI : Official Review

Great review and finally a truly hot practical hatch from VW !

Commendable how VW can churn out so many variants of Polo.

Guess would be more confusion on choices, for the customer when the 1.5 TDI arrives in both the Polo and Vento as rumored

Quote:
The Polo offers all of 4 engine options today, the cheaper 3-cylinder 1.2L petrol & diesel, and the premium 4-cylinder TSI & TDI motors. Count the discontinued 1.6L naturally-aspirated petrol and the Polo wins the award for the most engines to be shoehorned into the engine bay of any Indian hatchback.
Cheers!
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