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Old 22nd March 2010, 19:43   #1
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Default VW Polo : Ze Germans have invaded my house!

As a couple of senior BHPians might know already, I had been thinking about buying a Polo for quite some time and had even spoken to VW about this before buying an "Italian" Grande Punto a couple of months ago. So you can imagine my surprise when suddenly last week, I hear some rustling in the garage and lo and behold, someone had just left a Polo. It was dripping with blood and the menacing front end was making my bug eyed Punto look like a petrified Zoozoo (or whatever those Vodafone bunnies are called). Alright, I'll cut to the chase.

I had put down a deposit on a Polo way back during the Auto Expo (seems like many, many years ago) and as expected, the Germans didn't disappoint. A few weeks ago, I was notified of an approximate date of delivery and sure enough, last week I finally got the chance to pick 'er up. My initial reactions at this point:

1. The front end looks great but the back end is a total downer. It's like two ends from different cars were grafted on to this and the result is a motley mix of designs.
2. The interior is pukka German. Having owned a half dozen German cars over the years, I immediately felt at ease with the controls although the steering felt a bit small in my large-ish hands.
3. Seat comfort's quite decent.

I've been driving it around almost everyday now and feel qualified enough to post a detailed opinion of all the features in the car. Since I own a Grande Punto (1.4 Emotion Pack) as well, I'll chip in comparisons between the two cars where applicable. Since it's always interesting to have a solid quantitative finding at the end to make for an easy one-shot comparison, I've tried to be as impartial as is humanly possible and added individual scorings where appropriate, after all, both cars are remarkably close when judged against some of the parameters below so adding a score will shed more light on my perspective and opinion.

Looks and Design - A lot of people have asked this so I'll get it answered right now - The VW red looks a touch brighter and more vivid than the Fiat red. Moving on to the looks department, as I mentioned earlier, the Polo looks nice but it isn't a car that'll get the girls all swooning. The front end looks great but the rear looks positively docile in comparison. It's not a badly designed car by any stretch of the imagination (cough...Ritz...cough) but it's not going to stand out in the car park. On the other hand, the Punto's lovable Maserati-esque front end and muscular sidelines means the Punto creams the Polo in the looks department. I know design is a subjective issue but I'm pretty sure most people on here would agree with me on this one.
Polo:7, Punto:9
Engine - The Polo's engine is a bit clattery with more noise making its way through to the passenger cabin. In comparison, the GP's engine sound is hard to describe. It's quite muted at idle but at higher revs (3K to the redline), a baritone sound that is quite racy can be heard. However, the sore point with both cars is that the engines could've been better, the Punto especially cries out for a bigger engine.
Polo:7, Punto:8
Acceleration and Handling - The Polo seems a bit more nimble footed than the Punto but once it gets going, the latter stamps its authority on highways. Put this down to the fat tires and nice suspension but the Polo just can't match it on potholed roads. In the city though, it's an entirely different story - the Polo's lighter steering feel, peppy engine and possibly less weight (?) contribute to a more enjoyable experience. With the Punto, 2nd gear is as good as getting out of the car and running alongside and if you mash the pedal, you run the risk of getting dismal fuel economy figures. The Polo is like a welterweight fighter, landing the right punches while minimizing risks due to heavyness and thus returns a stellar fuel economy figure of ~14.5kpl in the city.
Acceleration: Polo:8, Punto:7. Handling: Polo:8, Punto:9
Steering - The Polo's steering is light weight (though not as light weight as the rubbery feeling on most Marutis) and makes for a pleasurable experience. The Punto on the other hand has a weighted steering feel that might surprise some folks coming from Marutis and Hyundais but it does feel very nice. The blank panels on either side of the VW logo on the steering where you'd expect audio controls to be are a real downer. Both are class leaders in a very different sort of way. You will need to drive both cars to get a feel of the similarities and differences.
Polo:9, Punto:9
Gear shifts - The best gears I've had the pleasure of making love to.. no wait, that's not right. The best gears I've had the pleasure of rowing through on any sub-10L car in India, bar none. The Punto's gear shifts are good, but not as good as the Polo. The Polo just feels like a well oiled machine, again something that the Germans are very good at.
Polo:10, Punto:8
Interior, Comfort and Gadgets:
The interiors of the two cars follow very different design languages - the Punto's looks more inviting at first, with its electrically adjustable RVMs, auto climate control, bluetooth connectivity, steering controls etc. but surprisingly, when it comes to butt-in-seat comfort on a day-to-day basis, it's the Polo that's a bit more comfortable overall. Seating is not an issue at the front for taller folks (I'm 6'1") with a height adjustable seat. The driver console looks better on the Punto, the Polo outshines in the legibility department. The lack of a clear view through the central RVM is a bit of a sore point on both cars. A dedicated lock/unlock switch on the Polo adds to the usability factor. Ze Germans sadly lost it in the audio department and the Punto's stock sound system sounds a lot better and as a way of adding salt to the wound, it provides iPod connectivity as well. One last point, although it's not of major concern - the all black interior of the GP looks a shade better than the beige/black combo of the Polo.
Interior: Polo:8, Punto:8. Comfort: Polo:9, Punto:8. Gadgets: Polo:7, Punto:9
This is probably where the Polo has its party trick. The lifting VW badge looks way cooler (and is easier to operate) than the simple wedge in the bottom panel of the Punto. I'm certainly not a fanboy of statistics but the Punto's boot space looks a bit bigger than the Polo. The folding rear seat in the Polo adds tons of boot space, if needed. Closing the boot is arguably easier on the Polo than the Punto, especially if the car's going to be driven by your GF/wife/mum. The Punto is certainly not going to be outdone here - the trunk light adds immense value for those late night rummages through the boot to find something.
Polo:9, Punto:9

Having scored where needed and then added up the marks, we get:

So in a pure mathematical way, the Punto barely edges out the Polo. As is evident from the scores, there really is barely little to choose between them - both have their strengths and weakness that I've tried to outline above. All of this means that making a real decision with your wallet will come down to your priorities and quite possibly a preference based on looks etc. A lot of emotional buyers will be drawn to the Punto no doubt, but the Polo will surely create its own legion of fans primarily due to its no-hassle Germanic ways.

As for the price, the OTD meteorite hit on my wallet was about 6.34L. I did receive a set of floor mats that truth be told, are quite flimsy. A price comparison with the GP on my part wouldn't be justifiable, considering that I bought my GP for 4.6L.

Coming to the section that most Poloers (?) will be interested in, some of the mods that I've been thinking about:
1. Euro style headlamps - I believe a lot of potential owners are interested in swapping the Indian headlamps out for these.
2. Better tires and alloys - JK have created a good tire that will do the job for most owners but then TBHPians aren't part of the commoners now, are we? A trip down to the local tire mart beckons.
3. Front and rear sport bumpers and side skirtings: These are part of the VW accessories list that's coming out next month. I've already put a deposit down on these. Once I get them in primed form, they will be color matched and fitted asap.
4. Muffler tip - all these mods add up to zilch street credentials if you have a puny exhaust tip peeking underneath the rear bumper. Tips should be too expensive so these could very well be the first mod.
5. Tint - Summer's already here in Delhi and it's bloody hot. The tint I had on my Punto was a POS but I've found a better guy around here who will do up both cars next weekend.

I'll add more information in subsequent posts once I've gotten feel confident enough to judge the cars on other parameters such as back seat comfort, car maintenance etc.

To end this post, some comparison pics with one very dirty Grande Punto (God how do people keep their cars clean in Delhi?!?)
Attached Thumbnails
VW Polo : Ze Germans have invaded my house!-pic2.jpg  

VW Polo : Ze Germans have invaded my house!-pic3.jpg  

VW Polo : Ze Germans have invaded my house!-pic4.jpg  

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Last edited by khan75 : 22nd March 2010 at 19:54.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:06   #2
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Congrats Khan75 for your Polo. i slightly disagree with you on the looks ratings . To me the rear quarter profile of Polo appeals the most in any hatch. I am not a fan of buggish or bulbous cars. So i rate Polo above Punto in looks.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:15   #3
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Congrats Khan on the aquisition of Polo.Indeed it is a P-war.I mean Polo V/s Punto.
Though Im a thorough Fiat fan,i have to agree on the superiority of the Polo.
Happy motoring.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:19   #4
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Congrats on your Polo purchase and a hearty thanks for writing the first ownership report on the German machine!!

One quick clarification though - you have a Polo HighLine - right? From the photos above, I don't see the rear wiper on the Polo - is that missing?
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:31   #5
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Congrats Khan. I guess it's just a matter of taste but I just love the Polo's rear.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:37   #6
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Congrats. Both the cars look stunning. I definitely like the Polo's looks more. Ideally, I would like to have the Punto's engine in a Polo's body with Figo's pricing.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:43   #7
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Originally Posted by Gilead View Post
Congrats. Both the cars look stunning. I definitely like the Polo's looks more. Ideally, I would like to have the Punto's engine in a Polo's body with Figo's pricing.
Second that!
That's a great way to put the aspirations of most of the folks out here.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 20:45   #8
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Nice comparison. I hear that rear seat is pretty cramped in the Polo, how do you compare both in this aspect?
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Old 22nd March 2010, 21:36   #9
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Congratz the polo somehow grows on you, initially i didnt like the shape now the car is more handsome to me. Please keep updating regularly your ownership experience.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 21:41   #10
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Originally Posted by khan75 View Post
Interior, Comfort and Gadgets:
- the all black interior of the GP looks a shade better than the beige/black combo of the Polo.
Aaah, there is hope yet.

But are the auto companies listening, I for one want the interiors to be rid of the colour beige and see the interiors in classy shades of Grey and of course Black.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 21:52   #11
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awesome combo dude. they sure make quite a couple
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Old 22nd March 2010, 22:15   #12
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Few pics comparing Polo and Punto..
Pics from Team Bhp and Google.

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Old 22nd March 2010, 22:16   #13
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Congratulations Khan, can you tell about rear seat comfirt on both the car.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 22:28   #14
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Interesting write up dude!You are one lucky guy to own to such hot cars.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 22:37   #15
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Congratulations Khan...and a very neatly put together article, let me say

I am sure this thread is going to be a very keenly watched and hotly debated one for a very long time...
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