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Old 11th September 2011, 16:35   #1
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mumbai
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Arrow An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

I brought home a new Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Petrol (Highline) 5 days ago. This is the car I have had my eyes on for quite some time, and it is magical how after a long and complicated journey, this car has made its way into my garage. In the next few pages I have tried to pen down my entire experience, from the ups and downs of the journey, to a break-down of its competition, to a dissection of the car itself.

The Very Beginning:

It was almost 8 months ago, around January or February 2011 that the first traces of a new car purchase surfaced. Everything started of (and even continued for some time) in a very vague manner, and no hard thought was given to the matter. It was just known as a possibility and definitely not as a fact. Everything was very raw, the only real criteria that was thought about as such was that the car would be an inexpensive hatchback that could be a good car to start a driving life with. I would only be turning old enough to get a driving license in June and so there was lots of time to think about this. I learned how to drive at 14, and could drive fairly well, but since I don’t support under-age illegal driving I never got sufficient practice. A largely known fact about me amongst my friends and family is that I am absolutely mental about automobiles, from the technical aspects, to the supercars, to driving techniques and road manners, to the Indian car market etc. In other words, I am as much a petrol head as most others here on Team BHP. So first let’s see what my requirements/preferences were:

- Most importantly it should be a driver’s car; one that is fun to drive with class-leading performance;
- It should have a premium feel, one that makes the occupants feel special;
- More equipment is always better;
- Low monthly running - 500 - 700 kms;
- Brand value is always appreciated;
- Diesel would be an advantage, purely because it encourages you to drive more often;
- Must be a well-designed exterior and attractive interior;
- Well reputed A.S.S = peace of mind.

The first consideration was a Tata Nano, which was suggested by my mother. Now I’m sure many people have considered buying this car at some point or the other, just because it seems like the best car to buy in a city where the smaller car always gets its way through, and since it seems so economical. But I beg to differ. I don’t think one should buy a car just because one can. Not only is it a very uninspiring performer, looks anything but beautiful, and is known as the cheapest car in the world, but it is also known to be unreliable, having things go wrong with it every so often (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ll-issues.html (TATA nano - List of ALL issues)). It is also evident that many Nano owners are unhappy with their cars. Don’t believe me? Have a look at how many Nanos occupy the used car market. Therefore, both my father and I immediately disregarded the idea, and decided to move a segment or two higher.
Now the Volkswagen Polo is a car that has captured my heart from the day it was launched. The sheer beauty of the car, the brand value, the build, the interiors, everything! So now since this car did seem in the realm of possibility, I started my research. To be honest my research led me straight to the 1.6 Petrol variant; I did not even bother reading about the others. After reading some reviews of the car and reading about its sheer capability, it seemed like an unbelievable mix of a mighty heart in a beautiful package. There and then I decided that this was the car I wanted; this was my favourite hatchback car in the country. But alas, 8 lakhs on road was impossible, and my dream ended as soon as it began. If I wanted a Polo, all I could get was a 1.2 Petrol Trendline (base), at about 5.5 lakhs on road. Still so mesmerized by the car itself (not the performance), I did not really mind looking into it. And so I did some research about the 1.2 Petrol, after which I decided that the puny 3 cylinder 1.2 litre engine is not the car for an enthusiast like me. And there I gave up my hopes of ever owning a Polo.

Now let’s forget about the heart, let’s use some common sense. At a budget of Rs. 5.5 lakhs on road, the most suitable car for me would be the Ford Figo 1.4 Diesel Duratorq. Not only is it a decent performer (especially with a Pete’s box), with a fabulous suspension set up and comfortable proportions, but it also boasts a diesel advantage. I could even get a middle/higher level variant in my budget and so it seemed like a good package overall. What I was never fond of was the dated looks, the dated platform that it’s built on (which according to me is insulting since we don’t get what the other markets of the world get; it pained me to see ten year old Ford Fiestas in England that resemble our “new” Figo - Google Images), and the tacky and boring interiors. Anyway, this car seemed alright, and although I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, it seemed like the best bet.
Until, I began developing a fancy for the Swift. Now this was sometime in March. A friend recommended that the Swift Diesel is a terrific car, and with a Pete’s box it just gets better. Until then I had never really looked into the Swift. I found it to be a very inconsistently built car that was way too common and was not worth its price tag. It was under-equipped, and lacked the premium feel you expect out of a car that costs 6 lakhs plus on road. Having done no research on this car I was not aware of the incredible driving experience it offers, and only recognized that after I started my reading. There was no doubt about the fact that if I was considering getting a Swift, it would have to be the new one; which at that time was based purely on speculation. But the speculation seemed good, the launch seemed timely (at that time it was supposed to be May), and it pretty much corrected all the issues I had with the old Swift. Within no time I had fallen in love with this car (or well the speculation of this car). The interiors finally looked premium, it was going to be well-equipped (engine start stop button, good-looking integrated Head Unit, steering mounted audio controls, more legroom, and possibly even climate control). So after serious consideration, I realized that this car is the one I want, and even though it would cost more than my planned 5.5 lakhs budget, it would be a better package overall. Prices were expected to be marginally more than the outgoing model, and so I estimated that after a tyre upgrade and alloys etc, the car (VDI) would finally cost about 6.5 lakhs on road. After some thought, my father and I came to the conclusion that that worked.
So then in early April a decision was made and we booked the car through Sai Service, Lower Parel. All it required was a booking amount of Rs. 5000 for the current Swift VDI, which would later be upgraded to a booking for the new car once it was launched. This booking was one of the first that the dealer received, and he therefore promised me delivery from one of the first batch of cars that they were to receive. The endless and clueless wait began then. I would look for any kind of hints about an upcoming launch, every single day. I would even read through reviews of the car available internationally, to make my own speculations. But there were no hints anywhere. Even as the calendar turned to May, there were absolutely no signs. The silence was killing me, and the careless attitude of MSIL that constantly postponed the launch was annoying me (the car was initially supposed to launch around mid-2010, but would keep getting postponed 3 months at a time). On a trip to London in mid-May, I even made a special trip to Dulwich Suzuki where I saw the car in real for the first time. It felt good to sit in my future car for the first time.

Once June arrived I was becoming restless. I turned of age, obtained my license, and started driving as well (Honda City Automatic). By now the estimated month of launch had become August and I lost my patience. Even though I was promised a priority delivery, I could not trust it. It probably was some sort of marketing gimmick. I assumed that even after launch I would have a waiting period of at least 3 months. This would mean that I wouldn’t have my car till November? Forget it. I had to drop the idea with a heavy heart.

So now no Polo, no Figo, no Swift? What next? Now in between all this, a friend bought a Polo 1.6 and I was absolutely blown away by the car. It was always my dream car and I still fancied it beyond reason. Around mid-June I explained to my father that the Swift is probably not going to come for a while, and it would make sense to look at other cars. So he asked me which one, and sure enough I suggested Polo 1.6! It did take some convincing to justify why the car is higher priced than the others I was considering, but it worked! No words can explain my joy when the Polo 1.6 began to look like a reality. The Swift was forgotten instantly, and the Swift on my phone’s wallpaper changed to a beautiful cabin with a round VW badge.

I got in touch with a Sales Executive from Volkswagen. Idiotically, I did not realize that she is from Volkswagen Thane which is a good 1.5 hours away from me. I had expected her to be from Volkswagen Downtown, Prabhadevi which is just 15 minutes away. By the time I realized the mistake, I had already built a relationship with her and even struck up a fairly good deal which is why we decided to just go ahead and book it with them. We would only be inconvenienced while having to travel there for the PDI and Delivery. We could even service the car with Downtown, so we were not really bothered. We went ahead and booked the car with Thane and that is when a 180 degree change in their attitude began. As soon as they received our first cheque the rosy politeness disappeared and a stubborn, rude attitude developed. Not only did I have to pester them for any kind of information, but I was even ignored for days on end. To justify these disappearing acts, the saleswoman (I will have some sympathy and won’t reveal her name) even lied to me on numerous occasions; big lies like her being hospitalized and her younger brother dying (which I discovered were fake). With all this we decided to cancel our booking with them. We lost Rs. 5,000 as a cancellation charge but our experience with them was too unpleasant to live with.

Here is when we finally approached Volkswagen Downtown, Prabhadevi, which was close-by and convenient. I took a test drive of the car with them, and was not left disappointed. The Downtown service was a dream compared to Thane, except for one unpleasant incident. When I went to the showroom to finalize everything on a Sunday afternoon I was promised parking outside the showroom. On reaching I called the Sales Executive out to point out where I could park. He guided me to a corner under a no parking sign and assured me that it would be safe there under their watchman’s eyes. He even requested me to hand over my keys to the watchman just in case of any trouble. I did so, but sure enough 15 minutes later the watchman walks in and tells us that my car has been towed. I was furious, but they remained silent and unhelpful. All I got was a helpless apology. It even took them some convincing to drop me off at the police yard. I was not accompanied there let alone offered any compensation. After I calmed down I realized that mistakes do happen, and I should not stop this from going ahead and buying the car from them. After all, I couldn’t waste my time hopping from one dealer to the other every time something goes wrong.

After this incident everything went off smoothly. Sales Executives were courteous, information was provided without much persistence, and they dealt with my anxiety and crazy requirements rather well. What they did lack however, was consistency with their time-bound commitments.
It does not end here; the journey makes a circle once again. Not even 2 days after the new Swift was launched I got a call from my contact at Sai Service. He informed me that a Swift ZDI was available for immediate delivery, and since I was amongst the first to book one, I could have it - but I had to confirm immediately. This got me worked up once again, and I requested a test drive for that evening.

The Swift feels a lot more premium now, with classier interiors and a better build. I could however still hear some squeaks that I am sure will eventually develop into rattles. The car does feel well planted, but the suspension is nothing to talk about. Bumps can be felt realistically. The diesel engine is noisy (I suppose it will reduce after the engine is run-in), and the turbo lag feels even worse now. It no longer has the highly spoken about “punch”. But it does have a diesel advantage that can warrant for tension-free driving around whenever so desired. But then again, with almost 80,000 bookings it will be the most common car on the streets, and so it lacks that exclusivity that makes you feel special. I was not surprised that the dealer’s attitude was pathetic. It almost felt like they thought they were doing me a favour by even letting me test drive the car. Heck I was made to wait an hour at their showroom for a test drive, and was constantly asked to come back another time if I was not patient enough. With all this, I had to make a difficult decision. At some point in time I have had my eyes on both the Polo 1.6 as well as the new Swift. My heart was still prompting me to go for the Polo. My mind was being sensible, and clearly suggested the Swift to be a smarter, safer bet. This was an epic heart vs mind conflict, and I decided to follow my heart and still stick with the Polo 1.6.

A week ago I was told my car has been built, and is ready at the stock yard. I was all set to do a Pre-Delivery Inspection (before registration), which according to most of us here is very important. But instead of the car standing at their Sewri stockyard, it lay at their Panvel stockyard which is just too inconvenient to go all the way to for a pre-registration PDI. With strong faith and blind trust, I decided to omit doing it before registration; leaving it for the day of delivery. Usually the registration process is fairly quick, but in my case it took almost a week since the RTO was shut for the numerous holidays in that week. The week was endless, and I found it very difficult to curb my anxiety and eagerness. Re-reads of Team-Bhp reviews kept me going.

That sums up my entire journey through making a decision, which by now you can see was long, complicated, and went round in circles.

The Big Day (Delivery)

It was no surprise that an 11 am commitment became 12, then 3 and then finally 4 30 pm. My father and I got there promptly at 4 30 pm, armed with a PDI checklist, a camera and a box of sweets for our sales executive. Considering that their service over the last few days had become sloppy I was expecting an unpleasant delivery experience. On arrival I saw a white Polo behind some other cars that seemed to be ready for delivery. Now this Polo did not seem ready at all - it was quite dirty and still wore a red temporary registration sticker. I became sure that this was my car when I went round to see a 1.6 badge and parking sensors that I ordered (after all there are not too many white 1.6s waiting to be picked up). Once we went inside we were made to wait for almost 45 minutes since the SE had not yet returned from his field work. I spent this time taking some pictures of the car and found myself just staring at it for minutes on end. It had not hit me yet that this was my car, finally.

As soon as our SE arrived everything moved well. He introduced us to a suited, polite man who sat us down to explain the different documents and policies. We were given a box of Patchi chocolates, a VW keychain, a 20 litre petrol voucher and a bouquet of roses with their compliments. By this time the car had been cleaned and only the finishing touches were being done. My request of no VW Downtown stickers anywhere (except number plate would be alright since that I plan to change anyway) was attended to well. Our SE put me on the line with my service advisor, who was assuring and welcoming. Soon we were explained the little details of the car (nothing that I was unaware of). We were then made to stand in front of the car, along with our SE, to have a photograph taken. Before my father could react, one of the staff members whipped out a party popper that shot out little trinkets and colourful pieces of paper all over him. I saw this happening and quickly moved out in time, but he was not so lucky. This was quite amusing actually.

I completed a successful Pre Delivery Inspection, and we were good to go. The only couple of issues I faced were the fog lamps that collected moisture inside them because of the rain/high pressure water pumps that were used to clean the car. The service advisor assured me that this would go once the fog lamps are turned on for a sufficient amount of time in order to heat up. Also, the tyre pressure had been set to 38 psi. This flabbergasted me, and I immediately had it decreased to 28psi. The odometer showed 76 kms which seemed fair (Panvel - Sewri - Prabhadevi). Also, by decoding the VIN no. I learned that the car was made in May. This means the SE lied to me that the car had just been built (and was still being built when I called him a few times in the week before delivery). But since May is only 4 months ago I accepted it. About an hour after the formalities had begun we were out and on our way, in a car that seems divine. Now let’s get to the car itself.

Exterior Styling and Design

According to me, the Polo is the best looking hatch on sale over here. It is an understated, no nonsense design and runs clean, smooth lines all over. The proportions of every panel are just right. The borbet alloys complete the clean look. It is a car that exudes sheer class and timeless beauty. I have been in love with its gorgeous looks from the day I first saw one. It is perfectly geometrical and curvaceous just where it should be. It can be nimble as well as muscular. It sits low and wide which is refreshing amongst today’s taller fad.

Overall Build Quality and Fit and Finish

The build quality and fit and finish of the material used in this car are one of its strongest points. Just closing the doors signifies how well this car is built. The 3 stage doors close with a strong thud, creating an impression of a tank-like build. The car radiates a feeling of solidity. Not a single panel seems flimsy, and each is screwed to the other very firmly.

Interior Design and Quality

I am not a fan of an interior design that is fancy or colourful; I prefer a classic, sober design with softer lighting and straight lines. I am more particular about the quality of materials used rather than the design itself. This is why the Polo’s interiors appealed to me. It’s a straight-forward, classic VW design that feels classy. The highline receives just the right amount of chrome accents along with a fair beige and black combination that breaks apart a bland, flat feeling. The buttons are harder than one would like, barring a small handful that feels soft and great to push (like the hazard lights). The centre console is slightly tilted towards the driver, which is a suggestion of a driver-oriented cabin. The classic instrument cluster looks great, and even better when lit up. The white and red LED effect is bright and sharp. The two large dials are easy to read. The overall quality of the interior is just as solid as the exterior and every panel seems to be well-fitted and durable. The control stalks are those that you would find on any German car - the opposite of what we are used to (indicators on the left, wipers on the right). This does take some time getting used to, but I don’t really have a problem with it. However, one has to be careful initially not to cause any damage by an accidental dry wiper run (especially with dirty blades/windscreen). Getting used to it does not take much time though; in fact I then found I was goofing up more when I was back in the Honda.

Now let’s crack the much talked about Multi Function Display. Broadly, it is equipped with two automatic memories - a trip memory, and a total journey memory. The trip memory collects and displays the data of the current trip. This trip starts from the moment the ignition is switched on until it is switched off. If the journey is interrupted for more than two hours, the memory is automatically deleted. If the journey is continued within two hours of the ignition being switched off, the new values and data will continue to be added to the existing trip recorder. On the other hand, the total journey memory is the recorder that holds and displays data and values for as long as you want, until resetted manually. The Multi Function Display, located in the centre of the instrument cluster provides a ton of useful information - driving time, current fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, range (distance to empty), distance, average speed, digital speed display, speed warning (an audio and visual indication that you have crossed a certain speed - depending on what you set it to), and distance till next service. The MFD, once understood properly, is fairly simple to use, and the red fonts are clearly legible.

What I thoroughly dislike is the steering wheel. While it does offer reach and rake adjustment, I still do not find it satisfactory. What has left me unimpressed is the lack of steering mounted audio controls. On a hot hatch that costs almost Rs. 8 lakhs I feel this is an alarming omission, especially since it's offered on almost every other car in its competition (Fiat Grande Punto, Hyundai i20, Suzuki Swift etc). Not just that, but in my opinion the steering wheel offered looks rather dull and boring, especially without the aluminium bits offered on Vento steering wheels (though I believe now that’s even been discontinued on the Vento!). It even lacks a leather wrap. In fact I was even considering the viability of having a steering wheel change, but unfortunately that does not seem possible. I started a thread where more about this can be read (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/modifi...ng-change.html (VW Polo Steering Change)).

Interior Space and Comfort

Sitting inside the cabin is complimented with a very airy feel. The livon upholstery offered on the Highline not only looks quite nice, but even feels great - not too hard not too soft. However the light tone of the seats is an easy target for dirt, stains and products of age. This has got me thinking about having art leather seat covers fitted. The support is great all around, from the side hugging bolsters to the terrific lateral support and average lumbar support. The driver is offered an impressive amount of adjustments to find a perfect position. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and steering wheel offers rake and reach adjustment. The front seats travel all the way to the back (at the compromise of whatever rear legroom is available). At 6 foot plus, my left knee often scrapes the centre console, which can be inconvenient but can also be ignored. The driver’s seat does tend to rock a little bit. There is no dead pedal, and the clutch pedal rests quite high. The clutch travels very deep. The polo is a wide car and therefore shoulder room for the front passengers is sufficient. Even though the dashboard is placed quite high I don’t really face a problem being tall.
Coming to rear bench comfort, I have to admit that this is perhaps the weakest point of the Polo. The leg room is absolutely atrocious. With a tall driver the rear passenger will be extremely inconvenienced, and will have to get used to digging his knees into the back of the front seat (which is soft and therefore tolerable). The transmission hump is high and with all of this combined, it can be said that a fifth passenger is not welcomed for anything past a short journey. Rear headroom however is good, and the two headrests at the rear are also height adjustable.

The internally adjustable Outside Rear View Mirrors make adjustments simple, as do the easily reachable controls.


It is difficult to describe what a fantastic gearshift this car is equipped with. It’s a small gear knob that is consistently straight from top to bottom. It feels like one single piece, instead of the ball on a stalk like effect of other gear levers. It slots very neatly, but the gates are placed very close to each other, which sometimes scare me that I am putting it into 4th instead of 2nd and 1st instead of 3rd. It feels like a short-shifting mechanism you find on some sportscars. The reverse gear is to the left of 1st, but requires you to push down the lever before slotting it in. The chrome surround on the top looks great.


The cabin is very airy and not claustrophobic. The large windows and rear quarterglass helps this. While the driver gets a good all-round view, the Internal Rear View Mirror is quite useless. This is because the rear glass is tall, but the 2 large headrests at the back steal the corners of the IRVM, which is narrow as it is. The Outside Rear View Mirrors are good, if not great. They are sufficiently useful. Even though the proportions of this car are small, I have still had reverse parking sensors fitted. I am not used to parking in tight spots, and whenever I do I tend to rely on my luck. With this car’s poor visibility behind I decided it’s better to save the rear bumper from kisses and dents by fitting these sensors. They work alright though I have still not had a chance to see how useful they really are. In fact I have noticed a slight lag in the audible warning; it takes a half-second to start beeping once you come close to an object. What should also be noted is that these sensors are useless in extremely tight spaces. The maximum warning (constant tone) starts beeping while you are still 0 - 12 inches away from an obstacle (which is a big gap in a tight spot). The intermittent tone can be heard when 12 - 64 inches away from an obstacle.

The wipers are not very effective. The washers just shoots 2 jets of fluid that collect as blobs on the windscreen, which are then spread around by the wipers. The wipers do not clean the windscreen as clear as one would like. In fact the dry smudges left on the windscreen hinder visibility at night, and spread the glare of headlamps of oncoming traffic. The rear wiper on the other hand is quite useful.


I am not finicky about my in-car entertainment system and am therefore satisfied with the OEM system. Visually it looks alright. The 2-DIN Head Unit integrates with the rest of the console well. The backlight only lights up when the parking lights/headlamps are switched on, which can get inconvenient at times. Also, the blue backlight does not gel well with the rest of the orange, red and white lighting of the Polo’s cabin when lit up. The sound quality is fine at low volumes. At higher volumes it tends to get a bit distorted. It only supports CDs and MP3 CDs, and AM/FM. There are four speakers, one on each door. The ICE also works when the car is totally off (without the key even inserted in the hole) which is quite convenient. What is sorely missed is AUX input and USB, let alone steering mounted audio controls (that I have ranted about earlier in this review). Thus it can be said that the OEM music system is tolerable for normal individuals, but music buffs might be left unsatisfied.

I was considering selling this system and buying a Kenwood 2-DIN system that Volkswagen offer as an accessory. It supports AUX input, USB, Bluetooth etc, and sounds good (a friend has one in his car). It even integrates well with the console, especially since it lights up in the same colour as the rest of the cabin. But at Rs. 24,000 it is extremely expensive and not worth the money for someone like me who does not care too much about sound quality and volume, and can live with CDs.

Air Conditioner

The air conditioner is very ordinary, but works great. On other cars I am used to starting the AC at nothing less than 2, and then maybe moving it to 1 when it gets cold. But in the Polo you can start it at 1, even on a hot day. It is extremely chilly even at low speeds. Although it lacks climate control, I am not sure how necessary that is. I don’t even miss it too much. The chrome accents on the knobs look nice. The air conditioner houses a dust and pollen filter that reduces the level of impurities in the outside air entering the vehicle. There is no feeling of loss of power once the compressor is running. The fan noise is audible, but not disturbingly loud. It only gets noticeable past 3. With the windows up the car is well insulated from the outside world. It keeps outside noises away better than most other cars of this segment.

The Central Locking System

The door lock mechanism really isn’t that complicated. An electronic lock button on the drivers arm rest makes a small clicking noise, and locks all four doors. Any door can be opened from inside while the car is locked, without the need for the driver to unlock the car manually. While it is locked it cannot be opened from the outside (obviously). A child lock is available in case required.

According to the manual, the car is equipped with a deadlock mechanism. I haven't really got the chance to put it to test, but the following paragraph explains what is is supposed to be, and how it is meant to work. The deadlock mechanism blocks the door handles and central locking button when the vehicle is locked. This makes it more difficult to break into the vehicle. The doors can no longer be opened from inside. The deadlock mechanism is activated when the door lock button on the key fob is pressed once. If pressed twice, the car remains locked but with the deadlock mechanism left inactivated. So to make things a little less confusing, the deadlock mechanism simply makes the car more difficult to break into. To see this mechanism in action, leave someone inside the car while you step out, close the door, and then press the door lock button on the key fob once. The person inside will no longer be able to unlock the system and open any doors from inside.

The anti-theft alarm, when activated sounds an alarm for about 30 seconds, and the lights continue to flash for up to 5 minutes. The alarm can be switched off by pressing the unlock button on the key fob. The alarm is activated when:

- A door is unlocked mechanically with a key, and the ignition is not switched on within 15 seconds.
- A door, the bonnet, or boot is opened.
- The ignition is switched on with an invalid key.
- The vehicle battery is disconnected.

If you unlock the driver door manually using the key, only the driver door is unlocked, and not the whole vehicle. The deadlock on all doors is not deactivated and the central locking button inside is not activated until the ignition is switched on.


The storage space in this car is definitely above average. The glovebox is perfect. It is wide and deep, and also has a carved compartment to place your sunglasses and slits to keep coins. All four doors get decently sized door pockets. The front door bottle holders can hold large bottles with ease. There are 4 cubby holes on every side of the hand brake, 2 cup holders in front of the gear lever and even one more cubby hole in front of that. The coat hooks/bag hooks are neat. The boot is amongst the largest in the segment and holds up to 280 liters! The rear bench can fold completely or into a 60:40 split. This can be very useful in terms of additional storage along with a passenger at the rear.

Engine Performance and Driveability (City)

As soon as you start the car there is an unusual diesel like noise for just a second. It is accompanied by a strong vibration, and then the car idles normally. I could not understand why this happens, but BHPian rajcs has explained it well. Basically the engine is equipped with an automatic valve clearance adjustment system that maintains the tappet clearance hydraulically. This eliminates need for tappet setting at regular intervals. Hydraulic power is provided by engine oil pressure; so when the engine is started valve clearance is not optimal until engine oil pressure builds up and this causes the unusual noise. Once the car begins to idle normally you have to take a look at the tacho to make sure the engine is actually running - it’s that silent! The engine does get vocal as you accelerate harder, and is in fact very vocal as the tacho needle falls down during deceleration.

Needless to say I haven’t pushed the car at all. Until the run in process is complete I do not wish to even try to get a feel of what the car is actually capable of doing. However, I have gotten to know the car a little bit, and let me first mention that you just can’t feel the speed you are travelling at. Below 2000 rpm the car is not very alive, but it’s not slow or sluggish either. In case you think this 1.6 hot hatch is capable of surging ahead with scary bursts that throw you back into your seat, I’m afraid you are mistaken. There are no surges or bursts of power, the delivery is absolutely linear. In fact as you pull ahead expecting a sudden burst, you can feel it coming, and feel it coming, but it eventually doesn’t come. Though by then you look down at the speedo and realize you are clocking a surprisingly fast speed! 0-100 in around 11 and a half seconds is staggering, more than most (if not all) hatchbacks on sale in India!

The engine is amongst the smoothest and most refined engines I have come across this side of 10 lakhs. The acceleration is butter smooth. Downshifts are not required too often, the car pulls decently even at low RPMs. I'm sure the powerband becomes alive at slightly higher RPMs, but I can only be sure about that after the run-in process. I disagree with those who say this is a disappointing car. It is an extremely capable car. I will admit that yes, it is not as thrilling as one would expect it to be, but it is a more mature kind of fun; shooting ahead of any hatch or small sedan without even realizing or feeling it. Do note that it doesn’t give you the raw feeling of a turbo kick in a Swift Diesel. To put it in simple words the Polo 1.6 is fast, very fast, but you just don’t feel it. So you might say - if you don’t feel it, what’s the fun? Well, the fun is in driving a car that is grown up and mature, refined and peaceful, but can steadily get you ahead of most other cars you will come across, when you so desire. And trust me, that is more fun than you think and certainly leaves the driver behind you confused!

Fuel Efficiency (City)

I can’t comment on fuel efficiency yet as I have barely driven it around, and that too only in the city. I am a new driver so I keep a very light foot and am more focused on fuel efficiency at the moment, rather than performance; also because the car is still going through the run in process. The car showed 13.6 kmpl at the showroom on the day of delivery which was quite impressive. So far, after 150 kms in the city with a light foot and heavy traffic (Mumbai standards) on some trips, and relatively open roads on the others, the MFD shows an average of 10 kmpl. On open roads, with an economical driving style the average efficiency on the MFD even goes up to 14 kmpl. However, in bumper to bumper traffic with the ac on, the average on the MFD can even drop down to as little as 4.5. It is still too early to safely comment on the fuel efficiency of this car. The best time to do so would be after it has run 5,000 kms and the engine has opened up completely. Going by other’s experiences, I am expecting the Polo to impress me with fuel efficiency, even though it is runs a 1.6l engine.
Something puzzling that I should mention is the fuel tank capacity. When we drove off from the showroom the fuel tank was almost empty, with just a few kms left to empty and 1 bar on the gauge remaining. Using the 20 litre petrol voucher that was given to us, we filled up 20 litres of petrol at the petrol station near the showroom. After this, about 4 kms away we decided to fill the tank to the brim so that we could do a tank full method to calculate mileage. We stopped at another petrol pump and asked for a full tank fill. What was very strange was that 37 litres of petrol went in till the petrol reached the top of the tank. Now this means 20+37=57, almost 57 litres of petrol was filled. How is this possible? The tank is supposed to have a capacity of 45 litres.

Suspension and Ride Quality

The suspension of the Polo is impressive. It boasts mature road manners and feels well planted like a larger car. It does not feel the least bit fidgety. The ride remains comfortable over most road conditions. I can’t say that it absorbs uneven surfaces and potholes, but it does a decent job minimizing their throw around. It remains flat over bad roads but is noisy and hence does not let you forget about the disgraceful Mumbai road you are encountering. In fact some of the deeper potholes are met with scary thuds. The 15 inch alloys don’t really make things better.

The car comes equipped with Apollo Acelere 185/60/R15 tyres. These are fine for my kind of driving. They look chunky and seem to grip well. Although they are not noisy as yet, I am expecting them to become noisy in the due course of time. A tyre upgrade (Continental 205/55/R15) was on the cards but I have decided to keep that on hold till the right time arrives.

Steering, Braking, Handling and On-Road Behaviour

The Electric Power Steering unit is extremely light. As an enthusiast, one is bound to be left disappointed. I agree that this makes parking and city driving a breeze, but that is not the kind of equation an enthusiast wishes for. It requires no effort and provides very little feedback. A hydraulic steering would have sweetened the deal a lot more. I have not yet got the opportunity to try, but I have a strong feeling that this steering will remain lighter than one likes at high speeds.

Once again I have not yet thrown the car into any corners to comment on bodyroll and understeer, but going by common opinion I believe the handling of this car to be fairly neutral. It is supposed to be well balanced and well controlled even under harsh circumstances. The grip levels and high speed stability too, are said to be impressive. I will however only be able to confirm all this in a few months’ time.

The brakes bite sharp and stop the car exactly where you want to stop it. The brakes seem confident even for short distance braking. The car is equipped with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), and that helps instil peace of mind. The handbrake pulls up hard but does not seem very confidence-inspiring. This is strange, because it holds the car perfectly well. However, I park my car on a slope with the handbrake pulled all the way up, but whenever I get inside the car, a weird creaking noise is heard that falsely scares me into believing the handbrake is giving way and the car is going to roll back. What I am also worried about is the wheels getting locked after a few days of not moving the car when it has the handbrake all the way up (this is a common problem with the Polo).

Other points:

• The horn is extremely loud and sounds just like one if it’s bigger German siblings. This turns heads and lets the car find its way easily.
• Boot release is intuitive and simple. One just has to press the boot release button on the key fob, and then push in the top half of the big VW emblem on the tailgate, and slowly lift up boot a little bit after which it moves automatically right to the top. Similarly, one only has to close the boot halfway after which it automatically travels down and shuts itself (with very slight downward pressure.
• Both keys are identical, fold-in key fobs that are absolutely fabulous to hold, carry and use. They have 3 buttons: boot unlock, car unlock, car lock. Earlier on one could even open and close the windows from outside using the remote. It’s too bad that they have discontinued that. I would have really liked that.
• I don’t understand the logic - but one can turn on either side of parking lights - left or right, depending on what side of the road the car is parked on. All that needs to be done is leave the right/left turn signal on while the ignition is off.
• Lane change indicator activates three blinks to indicate a lane change. This is a useful feature, and I plan on changing the blink to four.
• Service interval is 1 year/15,000 kms and a free check-up at 6 months.
• Standard warranty provided is 2 years (with 24/7 roadside assistance), with 3 year paint warrant and 6 year anti-corrosion warranty! Option of extending warranty for another 2 years costs about Rs. 7,500. This must be opted for within a year, and another Rs. 2,000 must be paid if you would like to continue receiving 24/7 roadside assistance during the extended warranty period.
• I have opted for a 0% Depreciation Insurance Policy at an additional cost of Rs. 3,800.
• The Owner’s Manual is well detailed but gets confusing since it is an international manual for Polo’s that are equipped with features that are not even heard about over here.
• The spare wheel is a 14 inch steel wheel.
• I plan to remove the ugly “VOLKSWAGEN” lettering at the back left of the car. This was a move made to establish the brand. The intention was to make the masses and general public identify the brand.
• The 60/55 H4 bulbs are not powerful enough and call for a change.
• Single reverse light on one side, and single fog lamp on the other side of the rear. Don’t get the logic and in fact think of it as unsafe.
• The lack of an underhood insulation (like that offered on the diesel variants) leaves the bonnet feeling very hot even after short drives. I wonder if this will damage the paint.
• My heart begs for the Polo Cup body kit (side skirts, front skirt, rear skirt, rear spoiler). A friend has one put on his 1.6, and it looks mental! However, at Rs. 75,000 it is an absolute rip-off. I will look for something similar from third party vendors.
• The speedometer is marked with intervals of 10 upto 40, and then follows intervals of 20. So it reads 10, 20, 30, 40, and then jumps to 60, 80, 100 and so on.
• The deal that VW was offering when I bought the car was - you could select any two of the following:
- Free AMC (3 years);
- Free Insurance;
- Free accessories worth Rs. 15,000;
- Finance at 6.99%;
- Rs. 15,000 exchange bonus.
I opted for free AMC and free Insurance.
• Mud flaps, silver car cover and floor mats - the most essential accessories, were not thrown in free. I had to purchase them at an extra cost.
• I have had high security number plates made. I will have them fitted onto the car soon.
• I am finalizing a design for art leather seat covers which will also be put on this week sometime.
• I need some advice regarding sun film. I am looking for one that does a good job keeping heat out of the car, but also one that is approved by the Mumbai RTO (or well one that won’t get noticed by cops). Cosmetic appeal is also important - preferably one that is reflective or matt. The 4 sides and rear should fit in a budget of Rs. 6,000. The options that I know of are v-kool’s K37, T35, A60, H50 and 3M’s RE 50.
• The engine block says “Made in ZA”. It is manufactured in South Africa.
• The car collects dirt quite easily under and around the doors (on the inside). This is difficult to see when the doors are shut, but when you open the door the black dirt is extremely noticeable. The same applies to the boot.
• The wipers cannot be lifted to be cleaned when they are in normal resting position. They have to be moved to the “service position”. To move the wipers to this service position, one has to switch the ignition and then back off again. The windscreen wiper stalk has to then be briefly pressed down, after which the wipers move up to a vertical position across the windscreen. Only then can the wipers be lifted. This is very inconvenient, as one has to explain the entire process to the car cleaner, or has to ask him to clean the windscreen without touching the wipers (which is what I do).
• The rotary knob that adjusts the outside rear view mirrors electronically is easy to use, and moves around like a joystick.
• The manual suggests an economic driving style - 30km/hr in 3rd gear, 40 km/hr in 4th gear, and 50 km/hr in 5th gear.
• The run-in instructions in the manual suggest that for the first 1000 kms:

- Do not depress the accelerator fully;
- Do not drive at more than 2/3 of the top engine speed;
- From 1000 to 1500 kms, gradually increase driving performance to top speed and highest engine speed.

Verdict - Is this the car for you?

The VW Polo 1.6 is the car for you if you want a car that makes you feel special everytime you get into it. It is a car that emits a more premium feel than most other hatches, and in fact even behaves like a larger car. It is beautiful, so beautiful that you will often find yourself just staring at it for hours, not bothered about what is around you. If your car is parked anywhere that you can see it, you will find yourself often going there to peer at it. It is a car that you reluctantly get out of when you reach your destination, and long to get back into at every other moment. If you are the kind that wants power available at any times, but power that will only be used and felt when you so desire, this is the car for you. If you like to constantly try taking on every car around you, then this is not what you will like. This car encourages you to cruise peacefully for most of the time. When you do however put your foot down, you are left satisfied, very satisfied. This car, as mentioned earlier, attracts your heart more than it does your mind. It's not always very practical - it lacks good efficiency of a diesel, and has a back seat to fit only annorexic people or little kids. It carries good brand value, and is a good car to turn up in even at formal occasions or important events.

Now what?

Now I look forward to starting my driving life with a terrific car that I will look after like a family member. I made a bold decision to go for a petrol car, especially since my monthly expenditure on petrol will have a limit. But the way I look at a car as, is more as a luxury than a necessity. The point of driving a car is to enjoy the experience rather than just to transport yourself from point A to point B. So although I will not be able to drive this car as much as I would have if it were a diesel, at least I will enjoy every minute I have behind its wheel. Once I cross that monthly limit, I can easily use public transport - something that I am no stranger to.

I hope you have found my report useful. It has taken me a very long time to write, and since many people seem to be curious about this car, I hope this extensive write-up curbs that curiosity. If there is anything else you would like to know about or see, I would gladly try to help. Please feel free to give your comments, suggestions and questions.


Last edited by rtm_8055 : 11th September 2011 at 18:10.
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Old 11th September 2011, 17:38   #2
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Some pictures of :

- The car tucked away into a corner before delivery. It was not yet cleaned when I arrived and the red temporary registration sticker was still stuck on.
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- The moisture in the fog lamps before delivery.
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- The party popper shiny paper/glitter material that was shot all over my father.
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- The complimentary box of Patchi chocolates.
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- Beautiful shots of the car with the Sea and Sea Link in the background.
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- The reverse parking sensors.
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- The ICE.
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- The Multi Function Display showing 9.9 kmpl.
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- The AC controls.
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- The central lock buttons.
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- The rotary knob that controls the Outside Rear View Mirrors.
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- The power window switches.
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- The headlamp control knob.
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- The AC vents.
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- The deep glovebox with cut-outs for sunglasses and car paper folders, and slits for coins.
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Last edited by Technocrat : 15th September 2011 at 20:52. Reason: Inserted Images between Text for easy reference.
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Old 11th September 2011, 17:52   #3
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mumbai
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Some pictures of -

- The sleek terrific gear-shift knob.
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- The various storage compartments.
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- The visibility of all the inside and outside rear view mirrors.
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- The driver side door with a large bottle holder.
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- The foot pedals (no dead pedal).
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- Nice livon upholstery is vulnerable to dirt and stains.
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- The classic, simple cockpit.
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- The rear passenger door.
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- Lousy rear legroom.
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- Car with doors open.
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- The driver's seat height adjustment lever.
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- The steering wheel rake and reach adjustment lever.
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- The passenger sun visor with no vanity mirror.
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- The centre console that slightly tilts towards the driver.
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- Only the left rear parking light on.
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- Only the right rear parking light on.
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- The reverse parking sensors mounted on the bumper, and the mudflaps.
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- The height adjustable rear headrests.
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Last edited by Technocrat : 15th September 2011 at 21:27. Reason: Inserted Images between Text for easy reference.
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Old 11th September 2011, 18:06   #4
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Some pictures of:

- The slightly reflective tint that the car comes stock with.
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- The clear side turn indicators.
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- Apollo Acelere 185/60/R15 stock rubber.
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- Wipers in the "service position".
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- Beautiful lines across the body of the car.
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- The German instruction stickers all over the car.
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- The 4 cylinder, 1600cc heart.
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- "Made in ZA" - South African manufactured engine block.
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- 280 litre, spacious boot, with a useful hook/clip on the wall.
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- The required level that the boot needs to be pressed till, after which it closes automatically (only a little guiding pressure required).
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- Nice airy feeling in the cabin, assisted by the rear quarterglass.
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- Coat hooks on rear grab handles, and nifty bag hooks on B Pillars.
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- The speedometer markings jump from 10, 20, 30, 40 directly to 60 and then continues in intervals of 20.
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- The neat foldable key fob with door lock, door unlock, and boot open buttons.
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Last edited by Technocrat : 15th September 2011 at 23:42. Reason: Inserted Images between Text for easy reference.
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Old 11th September 2011, 18:23   #5
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Note from Support:
Thread moved from Assembly Line.

Support Team.
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Old 11th September 2011, 18:47   #6
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

A very well written and meticulous initial report. Congrats on your new gasoline cracker and enjoy your time with her. Drive safe

EDIT: First one on TBHP to congratulate you!!
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Old 11th September 2011, 18:53   #7
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

wow a fantastic review. One of the best reviews of the VW polo that I have seen and read. Polo has great looks and in my book is the best looking hatch in India. The 1.6 is really a good performer.

I must say, and I hope the moderators don't take offence. with all due respect, I think this review is easily more comprehensive than the ones posted by GTO and others on the new launches.
congrats and drive safe.
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Old 11th September 2011, 19:42   #8
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That is one of the best reviews I've read, of any car! Coupled with those detailed pictures, I'm hooked to your thread.

Congratulations on the wonderful car and wishing you miles of happy driving! Again, kudos to the unbiased, comprehensive review. Please keep the thread updated constantly. Cheers!
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Old 11th September 2011, 19:50   #9
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Extensive indeed! and brilliant set of pictures. Congrats mate! I've heard that the 1.6 is infact more fuel efficient than the 1.2. Perhaps you can report on that in due course. 5 stars!

Last edited by 2cents : 11th September 2011 at 19:52.
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Old 11th September 2011, 20:36   #10
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Originally Posted by rtm_8055 View Post
I brought home a new Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Petrol (Highline) 5 days ago.
Congratulations RTM, a very good and to-the-point impression of Polo 1.6. Wish you many many happy and safe miles

Originally Posted by rtm_8055 View Post
• The 60/55 H4 bulbs are not powerful enough and call for a change.Regards,
+1, Could you please share your view on the throw of light in low beam. Is it straight 100% ?
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Old 11th September 2011, 21:48   #11
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Congratulations on the best looking hatch in the country, and with that 1.6 under the hood its arguably the best hot hatch you can buy in India. Great choice for a first car.

A very detailed and flowing narrative. Your roller coaster selection process (Nano to Figo to Swift to Polo,,,) had me glued to the post. Its now clear to me that your young heart always wanted a Polo 1.6 and thats what you got in the end. A worthy owner for a worthy car, let me wish you many miles of safe and delightful travel.

On reaching I called the Sales Executive out to point out where I could park. He guided me to a corner under a no parking sign and assured me that it would be safe there under their watchman’s eyes. He even requested me to hand over my keys to the watchman just in case of any trouble. I did so, but sure enough 15 minutes later the watchman walks in and tells us that my car has been towed. I was furious, but they remained silent and unhelpful. All I got was a helpless apology. It even took them some convincing to drop me off at the police yard. I was not accompanied there let alone offered any compensation.
Considering the parking woes in Mumbai this incident is highly pardonable. And the cops are really prompt in the Island city. Many times its better to rely on the old faithful yellow tops if you plan to go to congested areas.

The only couple of issues I faced were the fog lamps that collected moisture inside them because of the rain/high pressure water pumps that were used to clean the car.
Isn't that a bit abnormal. Water shouldn't seep in. Ii suppose its condensation due to lower ambient temp and high humidity.

Also, the tyre pressure had been set to 38 psi. This flabbergasted me, and I immediately had it decreased to 28psi.
Is that the correct tire pressure for Polo 1.6? Fabia has 32 - 48 psi depending on the load.

The control stalks are those that you would find on any German car - the opposite of what we are used to (indicators on the left, wipers on the right). This does take some time getting used to, but I don’t really have a problem with it.
I feel there is a need for legislation on this aspect. The stalks should be common for all RHD cars.

However the light tone of the seats is an easy target for dirt, stains and products of age. This has got me thinking about having art leather seat covers fitted.
Make sure that the new seat covers are well fitted out to the contours of the seat, lest you lose the excellent support of OE seats. Also be aware that thick seat covers will eat into precious rear leg room.

We stopped at another petrol pump and asked for a full tank fill. What was very strange was that 37 litres of petrol went in till the petrol reached the top of the tank. Now this means 20+37=57, almost 57 litres of petrol was filled. How is this possible? The tank is supposed to have a capacity of 45 litres.
It is obvious that one of the two pumps or both of them have shortchanged you on quantity. It is quite common in pumps both in city and highway. So try to locate a safe petrol pump in your locality and fill up only from there. Or your tank to tank readings will give you wrong FE.

The spare wheel is a 14 inch steel wheel.
Thats strange - won't it affect the ride when you use spare 14" with other 15" wheels?

I plan to remove the ugly “VOLKSWAGEN” lettering at the back left of the car. This was a move made to establish the brand. The intention was to make the masses and general public identify the brand.
Thats a good idea. The initial batch of Polos didn't come with Volkswagen lettering and looked elegant.

Once again thanks for a great report and awaiting further updates on long drives to....lets say Mahabaleshwar
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Old 11th September 2011, 22:40   #12
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Thank you all for your generous comments - I am pleased to know my efforts were worthwhile!

Rajcs, your ownership review on the Fabia 1.6 is fabulous, and is one of the only (if not the only) ones on Team-Bhp, which made for a unique reading!

The fog lamp moisture issue still persists, although the centre portion of the fog lamps clear up after a few minutes of them being on. This is a common problem with the Polo; a friend of mine only got his solved by sending it to the service station.

The tyre aspect ratio is different, which is how a 14 inch steel wheel works as a spare. However, it would be best be to remove the spare wheel and put the 15 inch alloy wheel back on once the puncture is repaired. This spare should only be used as a temporary limb.

A Mahabaleshwar trip is definitely on the cards after a few months! I go there often, and this car will help encourage another trip soon! What about you? When's your next long drive?

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Old 11th September 2011, 23:24   #13
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

Hey RTM, Congratulation on your new ride!!!!

A very well written and comprehensive review. With the amount of information in there, I will have to read this atleast twice to assimilate all of it. I have driven my friends 1.2 trendline and found the car okay, nothing great. After reading your review, I find myself itching to take a TD of the 1.6

Again, congratulations and enjoy your new ride

Happy and safe driving.
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Old 11th September 2011, 23:34   #14
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Default Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6

A very nice and detailed ownership report, rated five stars.

Congratulations for your VW Polo.

Wishing you happy and safe driving!
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Old 11th September 2011, 23:37   #15
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Smile Re: An Extensive Report of My VW Polo 1.6


Congratulations on the buy.

What a review, such exhaustive detailing. I must admit one of the best read reviews on the Team BHP. I think you should patent your review lest VW picking it up for their advertising.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely. All the best.
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