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Old 1st May 2015, 13:26   #1
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Default GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Upgrading from a twelve year old car was something I was looking forward to, for years! As good as it has been, the erstwhile Santro was becoming a pain to live with. The back-breaking ride, the lack of features and equipment and most importantly, the woefully under powered motor were drawbacks that were getting to me. We're in 2015 for God's sake! I'm done stretching out to adjust the LHS ORVM after winding the window manually. Also, it started to throw up a few annoying niggles that made it difficult to live with. I had to do something about it. But it wasn't easy. I had to earn it the hard way, and I'm glad I did. This is my first car and it has been a dream come true, so far.

My upgrade had to be:

A quick, fun-to-drive hatch that's solid, well equipped and fairly mod-friendly. With a budget-cap of 10 lakhs,

The Other Options:

I'm not going to lie, I did briefly consider the Swift because it's evidently better equipped, just as fun to drive if not more, and considerably cheaper to buy and maintain than the Polo. I have driven one fairly extensively and I love it! The steering is great and so is the punchy diesel motor. The sorted suspension and service-back up made it a proper contender. But I wanted something different.

The Punto T-Jet began creating waves a few months ago and I had briefly considered that as well. I popped over to the Fiat Cafe for a quick test drive of the top-end diesel. I know, the T-Jet will be different, but the primary reason for having a go in the diesel was to get a feel of the car and not the engine.

I was disappointed with the overall ergonomics. I just couldn't get into a comfortable position in the driver's seat and I found myself being fidgety the entire time. I have to say though, that I was mighty impressed with the ride and handling. Accelerating hard around a sharp bend revealed that the car was not going break grip easily. And the ride over broken road is very supple. The steering and brakes are worth writing about too. Great feel and feedback! I also have to admit that in its new Evo guise, it's quite a looker. But the awkward shift-action and long throws of the gear lever sapped the fun out of it. A hatchback that's touted to be a fun, enthusiasts' car, cannot afford to have such a poorly engineered gearbox.

The T-Jet powered Punto made a compelling case for itself, especially at an estimated 8-9 lakhs. But the poor fuel-economy, poor gearbox, incredibly cramped interiors (even more so that the Polo, boot included) and the seemingly poor after-sales-service were reasons enough to drop it from the list.

I couldn't dream of a used Mini Cooper S. So I had to settle for a car that's been around for 5 years because it's the only car in the country that meets my requirements.

Several friends suggested that I get a Duster / Terrano by stretching my budget by a couple of lakhs. One friend in particular went so far as to say that the base Terrano with no head unit, alloys, etc is available for exactly 10 lakhs and I'm a fool for not picking it up.

And then I received the typical Indian reaction when they heard that the Polo GT costs 10 lakhs. "Why did you buy a small car and not a big one, like the EcoSport? Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze are cheaper! You could have even bought a City!"

Urgh.

Anyway, as a kid, I've always wanted a car I could tinker with. My dream was to buy a used Maruti Zen, plonk the famed G13B into its engine-bay, slap on some hot-rod wheels-tyres and hoon around in the neighbourhood. The Polo GT TSI, with its tweak-able engine and sound dynamics, is the perfect canvas to work on!

The Colour:

Red was what I'd opted for initially, but I couldn't see myself in a red car for too long. With the red out, it was a coin-flip between the grey and the white. White is not a colour I thought I'd opt for on a car, to be honest. But I'm happy with the it because I like the contrast that the black spoiler and rear-view mirrors lend to the while car. Personally, I would have loved the dark blue that's available on the regular Polo. It's rather unfortunate that VW does not provide a wider colour palette for the GT twins. NOTE: A certain publication put a dark-blue Polo GT through its paces in their video review. I would have taken it in that dark-blue colour, eyes closed!

The Booking and Delivery Experience:

I walked into Volkswagen Palace Cross a few weeks into March. After the coffee and small talk, we got down to brass-tacks and booked the car. I was told that the car would take about 2 months to arrive at the dealership. The sales-representative was very eager and enthusiastic, and I must say that he is pretty well informed too. He mentioned that there may be a possibility where I could take delivery as early as the first week of April if the stars align.

About a week later, I got a call from the dealership saying that a white TSI has been allotted to them and that I could take it if I wanted to. At this point, the sales-representative's eagerness to close the deal before the end of the month began to overwhelm me. He wanted to finish all formalities including signing of the loan-papers and procuring all necessary (and unnecessary) documents so that he could register the sale before the end of the month. The pressure to close the deal was something I wasn't prepared for and I was not impressed by it at all. Nonetheless, I went ahead with it knowing that the car will be delivered soon.

Things started going down-hill when the sales-rep came home at 9:30 pm with the loan papers and stated that my car belongs to a new batch of Polos that have a few things deleted from the feature-list (more on this later). It got worse when I found that I could save a good 20k if I were to opt for 0-dep insurance from elsewhere and not through the dealership. After having conveyed my intention to cancel the dealership-provided insurance, I noticed a sense of indifference from the sales-rep. Getting the car's details for insurance purposes proved to be a massive headache and it took 4 days and repeated calls to get the details and refund from the sales-rep.

At the time of PDI, I was absolutely livid to see the car wearing MRFs and I began seething quite a bit when I saw a 6 lakh Polo Treadline on the showroom floor sitting on Apollo Alnacs. The dealership refused to swap the tyres and they said that I have no option but to take it like the way it is.

This 'take-it-or-leave-it attitude left a terrible taste in my mouth and at that point, I couldn't wait to drive the car out of the dealership. The experience with the dealership was par, at best.

The actual delivery experience was quite pleasant. I was introduced to the technician who will be in charge of my car. Along with the keys, I was given some goodies including a box of cute little VW Beetle shaped chocolates, a few key-chains and a voucher for 10 liters of petrol among other things.

A month into ownership, I have received several calls from the dealership asking me to provide them with my feedback on the booking and delivery experience but not one call with regard to the car. However, I did get a call a few days back asking if one of them could drop by at my place and clear any doubts, if any, in so far as my car is concerned.

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Modifications and Accessories:

I have a list of things I wish to do to the car. However, for the 1st year of ownership, I will restrict it to cosmetic and convenience related modifications only. I am not ruling out the possibility of getting it remapped or even swapping the stock shocks for entry-level Bilsteins. But for now, this is what the list looks like:
  • Tyres (Check)
  • Armrest (Check)
  • Osram Nightbreakers / Philips Xtreme Vision headlight-bulbs
  • Interior LEDs for ambient lighting
  • Components
  • Smoked alloy-wheels (gun-metal)
  • Leather accents on the doors, handbrake, armrest, etc.
  • Light sun-film
  • Floor mats.
  • Number plates (check - not pictured here though)

I drove the car straight to Madhus after taking delivery. The MRFs may do the job, but I took this as an opportunity to get a nice set of tyres and perhaps upsize? After careful deliberation, I'd decided to swap the MRF ZVCRAPVs for Continental MC5s (Max-Contact-5).

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The next day, I got in touch with BHPian speed-kills who helped me source a nice armrest for the car. Mr. Kills fixed an appointment with Shibin from Pete's who had asked me to swing by the workshop. I'd opted for this because Shibin was happy to do a few VCDS tweaks apart from installing the armrest. It also gave me the opportunity to check out the facility.

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The armrest was a little on the expensive side, but it's a good quality product that was installed professionally.

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A few friends have gotten armrests installed in their GTs but I wasn't impressed with the overall quality. One of them bought it off aliexpress for 6.5k but even after installation, it did not seem to be securely fastened to the floor and I noticed some play when one exerts or applies even a little pressure. The armrest installed in my car seems to be of pretty good quality. There are no exposed metal hinges, springs or screws. The felt-lined cubby is good for assorted knick-knacks and there is a little crevice for coins and change too! The fabric-top feels nice and the flip-open cup-holder for the rear passengers is nifty as well.

Usage Pattern:

My usage is a 15-20 km commute within the CBD and through moderate-heavy traffic. I will not restrict this car to the confines of the city and I am looking forward to driving it to Goa, Coorg, etc. Expect to see a few travelogues within this report.

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Disclaimer:
  • While reading this report, you may notice that I have drawn several comparisons between the Polo and various other cars. Cars that I've owned like the Santro, cars that I've lived with (and still live with) like the Octavia 1.8 TSI, the Honda Jazz, the Honda Civic, etc and cars that I've spent a considerable amount of time in i.e. the Elite i20, the Swift, etc.
  • The report was a little hurried because time was a huge constraint (my job does not allow me any free time) and as a result, friendly Moderator Jaggu was happy to shoot the car on short notice. Detailed pictures of a detailed car may be expected in the coming weeks.
  • There are several GT TSIs on the forum and more than a few ownership threads too. The Official Review covers most of the details as well. Keeping this in mind, I will focus on presenting my opinion of the car, the differences between the old GT and face-lift GT, etc. in order to avoid repetition of facts.
  • At the time of writing this review, I'd done about 1000 km, within the city including one 80 km round-trip on the fantastic Airport expressway. But since I've been getting to work earlier and heading home pretty late, peak hour traffic hasn't troubled me except on a few occasions and this has allowed me to stretch its legs on familiar roads.
  • Special thanks to the following people who I kept badgering with questions, requests, PMs, messages, etc
    - Speed Kills
    - Robimahanta
    - Gannu
    - Viddy (for his invaluable insights)
    - Jaggu (for most of the pictures)
    - Avishar (Pictures at the time of delivery)

Last edited by suhaas307 : 11th May 2015 at 19:11.
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Old 2nd May 2015, 16:26   #2
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Default re: GT'ing around in my Polo TSI

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What I like:
  • TSI engine + DSG7 gearbox makes the GT a fun little number.
  • Sorted ride and handling package
  • Well screwed together, inside-out
  • Premium yet understated

What I don't:
  • It is 5 years old and has begun to show it, ever so slightly.
  • Not nearly as accommodating enough as other 4-meter hatchbacks
  • Lacks key features that ought to have been present on a 10 lakh car!
  • Indiscriminate cost-cutting tactics employed by Volkswagen.
  • Dicey and questionable after-sales-service.



What is it like on the outside:


The Polo has been around for a little over 5 years. It's an old car but I have to say that it has aged nicely. It's quite understated and manages to slip into the vast expanse of ordinary hatchbacks, which, as it turns out, is a good thing. I don't get the wrong sort of attention and most people are unaware of what it's capable of. It's sort of like a Doberman in Labrador clothing and I quite like that.

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The GT badge has been moved to the other side of the grille. NOTE: The double-barrel headlights look sharp, even though they've been on the Euro-Polo for years now.

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The old GT had a blink-and-you-miss rear spoiler. On the face-lift, it is now gloss-black and that lends a bit of contrast to the white and red cars. Volkswagen has provided gloss-black ORVMs as a part of the package too!. These little touches help the GT stand-out from the sea of regular Polos.

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NOTE: I really like the gloss-black B-Pillars on the Vento / Rapid. Unfortunately, they are absent on the Polo GT (and in fact, all Polos). I think gloss-black B-pillars would give the car a very premium look. However, the dealership refused to give me a set (even though I was ready to pay for it) citing that the parts are different and that they won't fit. Could someone more informed on the subject shed some light on this?

While the old GT came with alloys of the same design, the wheels had this lovely 'diamond-cut' machined-aluminium finish. The face-lift GT on the other hand, wears the old Polo Highline wheels with the regular finish. Disappointing!

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The new bumper is similar to the one on the old Polo GTI sold abroad. I like how they've incorporated the fog-lights into the housing. If you look closely, you'd notice that the fog-lights seem to be split into two parts. NOTE: The fog-lights appear to be split into two parts. You'd be forgiven for thinking the extra reflectors at the edges are home to the bulbs for cornering lights.

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Being German, it's bound to be a solid car and no doubt, it's well screwed together inside-out. However, while closing the heavy doors, I've noticed a bit of a rattle. There are two distinct noises when shutting them, where as the doors on my friend's Elite i20 shut smoothly. Unfortunately, my vocabulary is too limited to perfectly articulate my observation. Rattling doors aside, panel gaps are tight and consistent while the paint quality is top notch.

The biggest problem with the Polo is that it's going to look completely outdated in a few years and that's what hurts the most. There isn't much I can do about it other than resort to cosmetic modifications to keep it looking interesting.



What's it like on the inside:


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Get into the driver's seat and you'd be fairly impressed with the overall quality and fit-finish of the interior. It's definitely premium especially when you get a feel of the interiors in other cars in the 8-12 lakh range. It's a fuss-free and an uncluttered design although one could call it a tad uninspiring. The overall design is quite dated too and is not extravagant. The all-black interior is a welcome change though and I'm glad VW has ditched the beige / greige for black interiors on their sporty models. I do like the red back-lit buttons and switches and the way the center-console has been angled towards the driver to create that cockpit-effect.

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The piece de resistance however, has to be the new steering wheel.

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It seems to have been nicked off the Jetta and it certainly looks like it belongs in a much more expensive car and not a 10 lakh hatchback! Ditto, the aluminum-finished door-lever. Great stuff, VW!

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Look closely though, and you will find that VW has toned down on the premium feel a few notches. The headlight switch looks like it belongs in the 6-lakh Treadline variant and not in the 10-lakh GT. Some of the plastics are hard and a bit scratchy.

The buttons and switch-gear, for the most part, have this lovely damped feel and quality to them, barring a few bits like the AC vent adjust and the ORVM adjustment knob.

The piano-black finish on the center-console and steering-wheel is a classy touch and it goes very well with the aluminum accents.

I'm a huge fan of the fabric upholstery that VW calls Milan Titanschwarz. The design and pattern of the fabric is reminiscent of the upholstery in the Golf GTI's. I had initially considered getting leather upholstery but I've decided to retain the fabric and get leather accents on the door cards, handbrake and armrests instead.

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Karlsson refused to do get this done for me citing 'small margins' or some such thing, so I may have to go to Stanley instead.

The front seats themselves are good but could have been more supportive. Lateral support is not the best. I found myself sliding off the seat on a few occasions. Under-thigh support too, is lacking.

I took some time to adjust the driver's seat to my liking and once I was there, the controls fell easily to hand. General ergonomics is not something I'd complain about.

As far as space is concerned, it's strictly average.

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The leg-room behind the driver's seat set to my driving-position is just about enough for a taller-than-average person. NOTE: However, my driving-position is unlike other 6-footers. I sit closer to the steering and the seat-back isn't reclined too much.

My Santro on the other hand simply cannot accommodate anyone taller than 5'5" behind my driving position.

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This is not a view you'd want to have when inside the car. The high floor hump will make life uncomfortable, not to mention the limited leg room.

My sister was stumped to learn that the similarly sized Jazz was considerably more spacious than this. While the driver and passenger won't have space constraints, individuals who are taller than 6' will have a problem at the back if the drive is longer than thirty minutes. And although it can accommodate 5, the 5th passenger won't be too happy for long.

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Interior storage is not too bad in comparison to the Santro. Although I do get door pockets with bottle-holders, I miss a few useful and thoughtfully positioned cubbies. NOTE: The arm-rests on the doors are no longer lined with fabric. It's hard plastic.

The glove box is much larger though and the extra cubby in the armrest has proven to be very useful.

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NOTE: The Polo comes with a single switch and just one light in a housing although it looks like it's made for two bulbs. Meanwhile, the considerably cheaper Elite i20 has a conveniently placed and rather nifty sun-glasses holder. You'd also find two (one for the passenger and one for the driver) Festoon lights.

The boot is fairly accommodating in spite of the intrusive wheel-wells. The boot-lid itself is pretty heavy and it may take more than one attempt to shut the boot properly if you're not familiar with it (NOTE: I wonder if this problem is peculiar to my car?). I love the way the VW badge flips open to unlock the boot. NOTE: There is NO boot light! *shocked*

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Bag-hooks at the corners are handy for those loose items that inadvertently get thrown around when driving spiritedly.

Visibility is not too bad. The A-Pillars are not intrusive at all, unlike in the Hondas we've owned. Frontal and lateral visibility is good while the small rear windshield coupled with the fat C-Pillar makes it a little difficult to judge in tight spaces. NOTE: The ORVMs offer very poor vision. Convex edges would have solved the problem. The IRVM on the other hand is decent, but very basic!

Features and Equipment:

The head-unit is the bare-bones basic 2-DIN RCD 320 with USB, Aux, SD Card, Bluetooth, 4 speakers and steering-mounted audio controls. The bluetooth is as basic as it gets. It displays the number of the person calling but not the name of the contact. Answering calls via the button on the steering is a breeze, but sustaining the call is frustrating because I've found that the person at the other end will have to strain their ears to understand what I'm saying while I will have to speak a fair bit louder that I'd like to.

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As far as music is concerned, I find the audio-quality to be adequate for the time being. The bass is punchy but the mids and highs aren't great. Clarity is something I was hoping for but it's not there.

NOTE: There seems to be a considerable drop in sound quality when music is streamed via bluetooth. I haven't noticed such a noticeable difference in the Sport variant of the Elite i20.

The automatic Climate Control works well, although I've noticed that leaving it in 'Auto' will switch it from re-circulation to fresh-air mode.

Volkswagen has provided a few nifty features in this car that sets it apart from the herd:
  • Cornering lights: It may sound gimmicky but it works.. and the way it works is pretty simple! When you turn the wheel say, left, the left fog-lamp comes on. This works only when the headlights are switched on. I've found this feature very useful whilst trying to park the car on an unlit road.
  • Hill-Hold: Another very useful feature that holds the car in position for 3 seconds while on an incline before it begins to roll. 3 seconds is long enough for you to get off the brake and on to the accelerator.
  • Intensity-setting for the Wiper's intermittent position: I had not realized the value of this feature until I started using it. Having the option of choosing the time between each swipe of the windshield is rather handy!
  • One-touch-up-down for all windows: Seriously, no one likes having to hold on to the window switch and watch it roll itself all the way up!
  • A dead-pedal! Well, sort of. It's good enough for about half the width of your foot.

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VW has also provided a MID that displays the Trip, an instant and average fuel economy read-out, the range on available fuel, a digital speedometer, etc and you can toggle between these via the switches on the steering wheel.

And here is a list of features that ought to have been there on a car that costs 10 lakhs:
  • Auto-fold ORVMs: Heck, if the Hyundai i10 can come with it, I see no reason why the Polo shouldn't.
  • Driver's armrest: An Automatic car without an armrest for the driver is the most ridiculous thing VW could have done.
  • Reversing Camera: The one in the i20 works brilliantly. The Polo should have had a similar setup.
  • Competent bluetooth: The Polo does come with bluetooth but it's about as basic as it gets. Shame.
  • Auto-dimming rear-view-mirror: It's the same rudimentary flip-type mirror I've been using in my Santro. Disappointing.
  • 40/60 split rear-bench: Wonder why VW skipped this one. It's pretty handy to have a split rear seat.

Indiscriminate cost-cutting tactics employed by Volkswagen:

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I'm quite disappointed that VW has resorted to cutting corners to this extent and it's upsetting to find these little things missing in a car that costs 10 lakhs:
  • Fabric material deleted from door armrests: This was present on the GT and even on other regular Polos until recently. As per the dealership, the new batch of cars coming in will not have this. One wonders how much VW is really saving by skipping on a few square inches of fabric!?
  • Leather hand-brake wrap deleted: This is specifically mentioned in the GT's features-list but is suspiciously absent on the new batch of cars.
  • Spare wheel: It is now a 14" steel wheel that wears a 175/70 R14" MRF tyre. I remember the old GT used to come with a full-size spare alloy and tyre.
  • MRF / JK Tyres: Expect new batches of Polos and Ventos to come wearing MRF or JK Tyres instead of the regular Apollo Accelares / Alnacs. It's fine on the Treadline variants, but on a car that VW themselves call 'GT'? Seriously?
  • Basic headlight switch: The old GT's headlight switch had some aluminum accents and garnishing that gave it a sense of class (Please refer the Official Review). The new one's knob looks like it belongs in the Treadline variant.
  • Rear reading lights: In the event a passengers at the back drops something and wants to look for it, he will either have to switch on the front cabin lights or he will have to grope for it in the dark because there are no lights for the passengers in the back seat.
  • Non-adjustable seat-belts: Another unnecessary omission.
  • Boot light: Yes, it's conspicuous by its absence! If a 12 year old bare-bones commuter car like the Santro is equipped with a boot light, I don't know why the premium VW Polo is missing one!? It's baffling!
  • Highline alloy-wheel: What stopped VW from retaining the lovely 'Diamond-Cut' machined-aluminium finished wheel of the old GT? Why did they ditch it for the regular / boring Highline wheel?

NOTE: Cost-cutting notwithstanding, VW has steadily increased the price of the car and is now a good 75k more than what it used to be when it entered the market.



So what's it like to drive:

Engine, gearbox and fuel-economy:

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In a word.. fun!

Let's get one thing straight. This ain't no rocket ship. It cannot be, even remotely referred to as a hot hatch either. It's at best, a warm-hatch. I'm not even sure if it's worthy of the GT badge to be completely honest. It is reasonably quick though and the out-right-punch sort of reminds me of the 1.3 MJD powered Swift.

I have to admit, after having driven the Octavia 1.8 TSI on a regular basis, the Polo feels rather tame. Sure, it's an unfair comparison. But I can't help it given that the gearbox is pretty much the same and the engine is from the same family. That being said, the little TSI feels quite sprightly in its own right and owing to the sheer lack in bulk and considerably smaller footprint, it feels even lighter off its feet than the big brother Octavia.

The engine is a little gem. Crank it up and the clatter is quite audible and dare I say, louder than the diesel EcoSport! The motor does settle down after a few minutes and the clatter gets less audible. The throttle-response is good but not lightning-quick. In fact, I find that the old i10's Torque-Converter AT to be more responsive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Light throttle inputs in the i10 AT make the car lunge forward, allowing you to close gaps in chock-a-block traffic senarios.

In the city, the TSI and DSG7 work together brilliantly, making the commute effortless! Puttering around town is an effortless exercise and the car's small dimensions ensures great maneuverability! The gearbox works through the ratios seamlessly and before you know it, you're in 6th doing just under 60. The car gets to cruising speed in no time! The shifts seemed to be a little jerky initially and the fuel economy wasn't great either. I was told that once the engine sets in and the gearbox adapts to the driver's style, the FE should improve and the shifts would be less jerky.

However, I would attribute these initial hiccups to the driving style and not the engine-gearbox.

Not being used to a daily-drive automatic, my throttle and brake inputs were that of a newbie. Over the course of two weeks, I'd learned how to drive the car properly and now, I'm able to extract either maximum performance or maximum efficiency, or a nice blend of both.

Introduce the car into heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic though, and it feels as though it's been pulled out of its comfort-zone. The transmission over-works itself by hunting for the right gear and it's not pleasant. The fuel economy too takes a big hit in heavy traffic. However, there is a clever way to get round the 'gear-hunting' trait of the DSG7 whilst making your way through traffic. Stick it in S and it will hold onto one gear instead of going up a cog when it's not required.

In fact, I've noticed that in D, the car up-shifts a tad too early. It may work while cruising on the highway or an open road, but in the city where the traffic alternates from light to moderate and dense, the transmission tends to overwork itself unnecessarily. Also, it takes a second too long to kick-down. It does however adapt to your change in driving style almost immediately and holds onto the gear a second longer when it senses your urgency, even in D.

The DSG7's party-trick however has to be the tiptronic mode. It may be a little juvenile, but it's fun to drop a cog or two in tiptronic mode, watch the RPM needle jump up and find yourself in the meat of the power-band in a matter of seconds! Once you're in the meat, the car comes into its own.

The turbo spools up and the boost comes in, in a linear fashion. There is no violent turbo kick or pinned-to-the-seat feel as such. But the car picks up pace rather quickly. The TSI provides plenty of aural therapy too. The engine growls when given some stick and you'll find that it's accompanied by a faint whistle, especially if you drive next to a wall and have the windows rolled down on a narrow road. I absolutely love the rorty engine note!

Getting to 80 from a standstill takes very little time, but I've noticed that it takes more than a few seconds to touch the three-digit mark once you've hit 80. That said, it manages to hit 100 and go past it without much trouble.

NOTE: I've noticed that driving in the city has gotten a lot less stressful, now that I don't need to constantly engage the clutch and change gears. And one thing's for sure, I no longer need to switch off the air-conditioner if and when I need to get going.

The fuel-economy was pretty pathetic initially, but that again could be attributed to my driving style. After correcting that, I'd noticed a huge jump in FE when the car was being driven sensibly. The mileage readout in the cluster now shows a consistent 9-11 km/l in the city depending on traffic. It falls to 7-8 if I begin driving enthusiastically. The worst mileage recorded was 5 km/l about a week ago in the CBD of Bangalore, when crazy thundershowers and a hail-storm brought traffic to a 2 km crawl for 2 hours!

NOTE: Speaking of rain, I'd like to point out that rainy nights render the new double-barrel headlights nearly useless! It's just about average the rest of the time. A bulb-swap is highly recommended!


And the ride / handling / steering / braking:

The ride is decent. It's definitely on the firmer side and thuds do creep in from time to time, but it's a comfortable ride. It must be said that the car's suspension keeps you aware of the road-surface at all times. You feel every ripple and every undulation. Expansion joints on flyovers and concreted-roads expose the stiffness of the car's suspension. At times, I get the feeling that it's a bit too stiff. Maybe I'll have to check if the tyres are a tad over-inflated? However, it does not feel under-damped and neither does it feel over-sprung. The low-speed ride is decent and it only gets better when you go faster. It's fairly compliant over undulations but not rock-solid like the Fiesta or even the Swift.

NOTE: Leave the windows open, turn off the music and you will hear the suspension in action, particularly the front shocks hissing away!

The handling, from what I could fathom, is above average. It responds well to steering inputs and is capable of carrying serious speeds into corners. It holds its line well and does not break grip easily. However, there is a bit of roll when you attempt to switch lanes suddenly. I noticed this while trying to avoid a few potholes on a wide road (a slalom like situation). I've been told that a set of Bilstein B6 shocks will be able to fix that.

The steering is light and direct while being devoid of any sensation. Although it responds well to steering-input, it lacks feel and is quite numb. It does weigh up a little at speed but not as much as I'd have liked. On center, it's dead. There is a bit of resistance when going around a corner and it does want to return to center, albeit not violently.

The brakes are just about adequate for what the car is capable of. At normal speeds, it's fine. But shedding serious speeds will require a calculated approach. There isn't much feel from the brake-pedal and it may be slightly unnerving at first but you tend to get used to it. In a nut-shell, if you are a very spirited and enthusiastic driver who likes to brake a little late, you will need better brakes. For normal driving, they're decent and do the job.

At low speeds, especially when crawling in heavy traffic, I've noticed that the brakes feel spongy and give you the impression that they don't work. This is unsettling and I'm glad that I'm the sort of driver who leaves room for error.

On hard braking, the car does not squimmer to a stop and it manages to hold its line. Maybe the better tyres have something to do with this?

That said, I would like to reserve my comments on the braking performance and revisit my opinion after having done more miles. I believe my opinion on the brakes being average may be attributed to the feel of the brake-pedal (or rather, the lack of it) and not necessarily the actual braking performance.



Things I'd change about the car:

  • More equipment: Auto-fold ORVMs would have been very useful and it's a shame that the 10 lakh Polo GT does not have it while the mid-variant Elite i20 Sportz (and even the i10!) is equipped with this feature. The basic Head-Unit is a real bummer too. And no-armrest in an automatic car? What were they thinking?
  • No cost-cutting: I'm still trying to figure out how much VW has saved by deleting the fabric on the doors and getting rid of the leather on the handbrake. How much are they saving by skipping the aluminum finished headlight knob? And why on Earth would they give a car THEY call the GT with MRF tyres? Why Volkswagen? Why?
  • Better brakes: Well, they are decent. But for the sort of pace this car is capable of, I'd expect the them to be more responsive and reassuring.
  • A more distinguishable design: It's nice to see the mirrors and spoiler in black, but only sharp eyes will catch the badges and black accents. It would have been nicer if VW had gone the extra mile to differentiate the GT from the regular Polos. The old GTI bumper and a nice exhaust finisher would have been perfect.



IN A NUTSHELL:

It's a solid little city run-about with a rorty engine and a snappy gearbox that's perfect for occasional hoonery. *grins* AND, it is the only car in its class with this engine-gearbox-suspension combination and that makes it quite the treat! However, I'm not impressed by VW's attitude towards the Indian customer. Skimping on features and equipment is one thing, but cost-cutting to this degree is simply not acceptable especially after having spent 10 big ones.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Last edited by suhaas307 : 11th May 2015 at 23:50.
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Old 11th May 2015, 18:00   #3
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th May 2015, 19:15   #4
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Polo TSI

Congrats on acquiring the hot hatch!! Loved the pictures and the attention to detail. I too brought home the german beauty (not the GT though - not enough moolah) last month. But swamped at work & a bit lazy to put up a review, working on it though.

Agree with most of the likes, dislikes and observations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307;3698322[LIST
The piece de resistance however, has to be the new steering wheel.
Well put Suhaas. It truly is a joy to use. Sufficient grip and meaty to hold, love the way it feels.

Quote:
Look closely though, and you will find that VW has toned down on the premium feel a few notches. The headlight switch looks like it belongs in the 6-lakh Treadline variant and not in the 10-lakh GT.
My Feb 2015 make Highline petrol came with the Chrome finished knobs. Guess VW omitted it from the latest batch!! But the leather wrapped hand brake lever has been omitted too from the HL variant. And my car came with Goodyears. They're performing decently though.

Quote:
This is not a view you'd want to have when inside the car. The high floor hump will make life uncomfortable, not to mention the limited leg room.
Agree again. Initially I wasn't concerned about it since we are a family of 2 + 1 kid, but recently when I had to drop off some relatives, the 5th occupant was having really hard time.

Quote:
The boot is fairly accommodating in spite of the intrusive wheel-wells. The boot-lid itself is pretty heavy and it may take more than one attempt to shut the boot properly if you're not familiar with it (NOTE: I wonder if this problem is peculiar to my car?).
Had the same experience at Mall security a couple of times. Only the boot open lamp on the dash alerted me to it and had to ask the security to shut it properly. On the other hand, love the fact that there are no phyiscal boot & fuel cap levers as my earlier Swift. I've lost count of times I opened the fuel cap instead of the boot or vice-versa.


Quote:
As far as music is concerned, I find the audio-quality to be adequate for the time being. The bass is punchy but the mids and highs aren't great. Clarity is something I was hoping for but it's not there.
Agree again, and the Voice command feature is a bit useless in my opinion. I tried commands in different accents, but it acted as if it had a mind of its own!!

Quote:
VW has also provided a MID that displays the Trip, an instant and average fuel economy read-out, the range on available fuel, a digital speedometer, etc and you can toggle between these via the switches on the steering wheel.
The trip meters, instant & average FE is a bit different from others. The one with superscript 1 resets every two hours and 2 resets after a longer period (I guess 36 hrs or so - correct me if I'm wrong) unless done manually. The only one which does not reset automatically is the one which can be accessed by pressing the trip button on the speedometer console. I find this a bit quirky.

Quote:
And here is a list of features that ought to have been there on a car that costs 10 lakhs:
  • Auto-fold ORVMs: Heck, if the Hyundai i10 can come with it, I see no reason why the Polo shouldn't.
  • Driver's armrest: An Automatic car without an armrest for the driver is the most ridiculous thing VW could have done.
  • Reversing Camera: The one in the i20 works brilliantly. The Polo should have had a similar setup.
  • Competent bluetooth: The Polo does come with bluetooth but it's about as basic as it gets. Shame.
  • Auto-dimming rear-view-mirror: It's the same rudimentary flip-type mirror I've been using in my Santro. Disappointing.
  • 40/60 split rear-bench: Wonder why VW skipped this one. It's pretty handy to have a split rear seat.
Things I'd change about the car:
  • More equipment: Auto-fold ORVMs would have been very useful and it's a shame that the 10 lakh Polo GT does not have it while the mid-variant Elite i20 Sportz (and even the i10!) is equipped with this feature. The basic Head-Unit is a real bummer too.
  • No cost-cutting: I'm still trying to figure out how much VW has saved by deleting the fabric on the doors and getting rid of the leather on the handbrake. How much are they saving by skipping the aluminum finished headlight knob? And why on Earth would they give a car THEY call the GT with MRF tyres? Why Volkswagen? Why?
  • Better brakes: Well, they are decent. But for the sort of pace this car is capable of, I'd expect the them to be more responsive and reassuring.
Exactly my thoughts, I mean the less expensive Grand i10 has these features.


Sorry for the long reply, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the review and wish you many more happy & safe miles on your GT.
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Old 11th May 2015, 21:05   #5
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Congrats Suhaas on the new GT! She is a beauty and wish you many more happy miles! I fully agree with you on every part as I have driven a Polo (1.2 MPi) a lot. I find the roll less but just the sheer lack of feedback from steering is sad. I feel it requires mid corner correction as well just because the wheels are actually pointing right but our consciousness doesn't know where the wheel is pointing, also hampering our idea on how much to give steering input to a certain corner.
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Old 11th May 2015, 21:19   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
  • TSI engine + DSG7 gearbox makes the GT a fun little number.
  • Sorted ride and handling package
  • Well screwed together, inside-out
Congrats on your new ride Suhaas. You really are on a roll buddy, you brought home the Octavia TSi and now the GT TSi and both are extremely good driver's cars.The new all black interiors look amazing but am very disappointed the way VW is going on rampant cost cutting and behaving like a cheap low cost manufacturer.

As for the suspension, it is definitely not too stiff as you are thinking, it is more on the softer side but Polo/Vento have a very noisy suspension which gives a feeling as if the car is running on stiff dampers . Drive other hatches like Swift/Punto over the same potholes and the suspension makes much lesser racket compared to what it would on a Polo. Hitting expansion joints or rumble strips in Vento makes a much louder sound compared to other cars i have driven, Ecosport has a very hard ride but the suspension is much better damped than Vento.

How is the steering on Octavia compared to the Polo TSi? If there is one thing i have not got used to after so many years is the light and lifeless steering. Really spoils the fun and even after running 205 tyres, the steering remains much lighter than i would have wished for. Vento is a family sedan but VW should have provided a quicker ratio, well weighted steering on GT models.
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Old 11th May 2015, 23:38   #7
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Default

Well, GTs are becoming ever popular on Team-BHP. Let me count the total no. of GTs we have on board

Congrats on buying the hot hatch. Your very first own car is a feeling in itself. We are experiencing the same. Nice and crisp writeup out there. Enjoyed reading it.

So frustrated with VW on cost-cutting this premium hatch. A hatch with loads of power resting on el-cheapo MRFs!

As everyone is saying, wished that the GT had a better steering with more feel n' feedback. Out on the open road and twisties, it takes out a lot of fun from an otherwise FTD car.

Cheers,
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Old 12th May 2015, 10:23   #8
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

What an exhaustive review sir! Congrats!
Quote:
Armrest (Check)
Looks like its the one from the Polo GTI sold abroad. Where was it sourced from?
Quote:
Smoked alloy-wheels (gun-metal)
Eagerly waiting for this one. Will it be done at Pete's as well? Or will you indulge in some DIY fun by spray painting it yourself?
Quote:
The biggest problem with the Polo is that it's going to look completely outdated in a few years and that's what hurts the most.
I don't think so. As they say, the Germans never age. Five years post launch, the Polo's design is just as stunning as its peers like the elite i20, which was launched only last year.

With regards to your feature wishlist, VAGtune retrofits a lot of these parts such as electrically folding ORVM's and reverse cams. A trip to their branch at Hosur may be helpful.

The cost cutting exercise was brought to our notice a few weeks back. Instead of comparing pre facelift and post facelift, I guess we end up comparing pre cost cutting and post cost cutting
That said, I love the new steering wheel. And the all black interiors. I'm stuck with beige(2014 Highline), sigh...

Wishing you many miles of contemporary TSI goodness for the years to come.

Last edited by Turbo_asd : 12th May 2015 at 10:28.
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Old 12th May 2015, 10:49   #9
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post

The Polo GT TSI, with its tweak-able engine and sound dynamics, is the perfect canvas to work on!

The Colour:

I would have taken it in that dark-blue colour, eyes closed!
Congrats suhaas307 on your latest acquisition and Welcome to the GT Club bro !!

One of my neighbor picked up a white GT TSI recently and the glossy ORVMs, Rear Spoiler, double barrel headlights just looks really awesome. However, I would have picked up the Dark Blue if only it was available on GT back then.

I can imagine all the questions and eyebrow raising that happens when you reveal the price of the GT, but I have one easy way of making them swallow their words with a bottle of water:
Take them out for a spin and floor that pedal !!

Wish you many more happy mile crunching and drive safe.
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Old 12th May 2015, 10:55   #10
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Great review !!

Now just add the GTi grill for a pop of colour I'm sure the 'i' can be snipped out neatly for sake of authenticity.
Attached Thumbnails
GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI-gtigrill.jpg  

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Old 12th May 2015, 11:08   #11
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Congrats Suhaas on the TSi

This car surely tops the list of Indian car enthusiasts opting for a F-A-S-T hatchback.

Also had to ask you why haven't you changed the number plates yet ? IMO you should get a good quality IND plate, if you want something better (but expensive) do install the German plates (www.germanplates.com) The car deserves it

BTW, i am running the same tyres on my Scala. They are great Comfort / Touring spec tyres i see them as positioned against Michelin PLC's (now discontinued & replaced by 3ST). This was a good choice considering you will be taking long trips too.

Enjoy !

Last edited by karan561 : 12th May 2015 at 11:23.
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Old 12th May 2015, 11:51   #12
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Congrats Suhaas!!! A good choice for an upgrade from the Santro. I loved the subtle play of black over white in your car, makes it look expensive. Actually the traditional body shape will help you add asthetic mods without making it look over the top, and the white color will help you interplay with gray and black, even carbon fiber inlays to help elevate the looks. When adding on, please consider 3m protection films for the bumpers and door edges, I am not sure if they do white, but will help protect the car in traffic. Drive safe!!
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Old 12th May 2015, 12:18   #13
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Congrats on the new car and here is a bit of info for your modification, go to Ovion(near the stadium) to do the leather finishing, he takes up such work, I got my Punto armrest done in leather for 1000/- nearly 3 years ago. Karlsson and Stanley are avoidable from what I heard from people who went their for their upholstery finishing.
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Old 12th May 2015, 12:30   #14
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Just to add a bit of glamour to the rear, while avoiding spending some real good money on a GT bumper kit, I ended up doing this:

GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI-ting.jpg
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Old 12th May 2015, 12:35   #15
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Default Re: GT'ing around in my Volkswagen Polo TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahesh Prasad View Post
Congrats on acquiring the hot hatch!!

Sorry for the long reply, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the review and wish you many more happy & safe miles on your GT.
Many thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kisharchit View Post
Congrats Suhaas on the new GT! She is a beauty and wish you many more happy miles! I fully agree with you on every part as I have driven a Polo (1.2 MPi) a lot. I find the roll less but just the sheer lack of feedback from steering is sad. I feel it requires mid corner correction as well just because the wheels are actually pointing right but our consciousness doesn't know where the wheel is pointing, also hampering our idea on how much to give steering input to a certain corner.
Thanks chief!

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboy007 View Post
Congrats on your new ride Suhaas. You really are on a roll buddy, you brought home the Octavia TSi and now the GT TSi and both are extremely good driver's cars.The new all black interiors look amazing but am very disappointed the way VW is going on rampant cost cutting and behaving like a cheap low cost manufacturer.

As for the suspension, it is definitely not too stiff as you are thinking, it is more on the softer side but Polo/Vento have a very noisy suspension which gives a feeling as if the car is running on stiff dampers . Drive other hatches like Swift/Punto over the same potholes and the suspension makes much lesser racket compared to what it would on a Polo. Hitting expansion joints or rumble strips in Vento makes a much louder sound compared to other cars i have driven, Ecosport has a very hard ride but the suspension is much better damped than Vento.

How is the steering on Octavia compared to the Polo TSi? If there is one thing i have not got used to after so many years is the light and lifeless steering. Really spoils the fun and even after running 205 tyres, the steering remains much lighter than i would have wished for. Vento is a family sedan but VW should have provided a quicker ratio, well weighted steering on GT models.
Thanks coolboy!

Yeah, it's been a dream come true for us. Two TSIs in a little over 6 months. I'm not going to lie, it's a great feeling!

The suspension isn't too stiff, but it could have been more plush. Maybe I need to check if the tyres are over-inflated?

I've spent considerable amount of time in the Swift, Punto, etc and I find the ride-quality in these two cars to be far superior. The manner in which the Swift rides over bad roads is something the Polo will never be able to do. I can vouch for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by petrolhead_neel View Post
Well, GTs are becoming ever popular on Team-BHP. Let me count the total no. of GTs we have on board

Congrats on buying the hot hatch. Your very first own car is a feeling in itself. We are experiencing the same. Nice and crisp writeup out there. Enjoyed reading it.
Thanks petrolhead neel!

I'd certainly like to see the list of GT owners on the forum *grins*

Yes, being my first car, I will cherish this for years to come!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbo_asd View Post
Looks like its the one from the Polo GTI sold abroad. Where was it sourced from?

Eagerly waiting for this one. Will it be done at Pete's as well? Or will you indulge in some DIY fun by spray painting it yourself?

I don't think so. As they say, the Germans never age. Five years post launch, the Polo's design is just as stunning as its peers like the elite i20, which was launched only last year.

With regards to your feature wishlist, VAGtune retrofits a lot of these parts such as electrically folding ORVM's and reverse cams. A trip to their branch at Hosur may be helpful.
Thanks for the kind words, Sir!

The armrest was bought and installed at Pete's (Bangalore). It's eons better than the one being offered as an accessory at the VW dealership!

I'm in the process of identifying places where I could get the wheels done. I'm leaning towards gun-metal grey, but I'd like a hint of bronze in it as well. The problem is that the car will have to sit on stilts for TWO whole days. I'm not sure if I have the time! I need to set aside a day or two for detailing it as well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vik0728 View Post
Congrats suhaas307 on your latest acquisition and Welcome to the GT Club bro !!
Thanks Vik! I have silenced a few people with the loud pedal, but some people are hard to convince! *grins*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash_vtec View Post
Great review !!

Now just add the GTi grill for a pop of colour I'm sure the 'i' can be snipped out neatly for sake of authenticity.
Thansk Ash!

I'd given this some though and it's not a bad option. But I think I'll leave it as it is for now. The single chrome-strip is a nice touch IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Congrats Suhaas on the TSi

This car surely tops the list of Indian car enthusiasts opting for a F-A-S-T hatchback.

Also had to ask you why haven't you changed the number plates yet ? IMO you should get a good quality IND plate, if you want something better (but expensive) do install the German plates (www.germanplates.com) The car deserves it

Enjoy !
Thanks Karan!

BHPian speed-kills helped me source a nice set of mock-German plates for my car. I will be using 3M adhesive to affix them instead of the traditional screws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by apachelongbow View Post
Congrats Suhaas!!! A good choice for an upgrade from the Santro. I loved the subtle play of black over white in your car, makes it look expensive. Actually the traditional body shape will help you add asthetic mods without making it look over the top, and the white color will help you interplay with gray and black, even carbon fiber inlays to help elevate the looks. When adding on, please consider 3m protection films for the bumpers and door edges, I am not sure if they do white, but will help protect the car in traffic. Drive safe!!
Thanks apachelongbow!

I'm hoping to accentuate the subtle play of black over white by getting black leather accents with white stitching in the interior (doors, armrest and handbrake). That should take the premium feel of the interior up a notch.

I'm not too interested in any exterior changes apart from getting the wheels painted. I'm not keen on getting the roof wrapped in gloss black. Everyone seems to be doing that these days. However, I will consider wrapping the chrome accents on the front bumper in gloss-black. I would also like to tint the fogs. Let's see. *winks*

3M paint protection film is a good idea, but I've observed that the area covered by this film turns a bit yellow and stands out on a white car after some time and that's why I'd decided against it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by avira_tk View Post
Congrats on the new car and here is a bit of info for your modification, go to Ovion(near the stadium) to do the leather finishing, he takes up such work, I got my Punto armrest done in leather for 1000/- nearly 3 years ago. Karlsson and Stanley are avoidable from what I heard from people who went their for their upholstery finishing.
Thank you avira and thanks for the suggestion!

Yes, Karlsson was a disappointment for me, especially since I know them personally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_hardcore View Post
Just to add a bit of glamour to the rear, while avoiding spending some real good money on a GT bumper kit, I ended up doing this:

Attachment 1369700
That's looks sweet! Where did you get those exhaust-finishers and how did you manage the bumper cut-out?

Last edited by suhaas307 : 12th May 2015 at 12:38.
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