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Auf Wiedersehen! Bidding farewell to the VW Polo | Autocar India

Written by Raghav

Twelve years separated the primary and final Polos in India, and we chart the journey of the automotive that laid the inspiration for Volkswagen within the nation.

Printed On Might 24, 2022 04:12:00 PM

Polo made its India debut on the 2010 Auto Expo in Delhi.

January 5, 2010 was a landmark day. German automaker Volkswagen was showcasing for the primary time its maiden mass-market product, the Mk5 Polo, to Indian shoppers on the Delhi Auto Expo. Although they entered a number of years earlier, this was the automotive that will successfully launch the model in India and VW was taking no possibilities in getting this launch proper. There have been no half measures, no penny pinching for this all-important launch, and following the large smoke, lights and action-packed unveil at Pragati Maidan, VW India stored the momentum going with an unprecedented promoting and advertising blitzkrieg that peaked with the launch of the Polo on March 8, 2010 for Rs 4.34 lakh.

The message was clear: VW was massive, had money to burn, and meant enterprise. This was the corporate to hitch and anybody value their CV was making use of there for a job. However what concerning the Polo itself?

We ceremoniously drove to the Polo’s native land at hand again our long-termer, and it is going to be missed.

Volkswagen Polo: Small automotive, massive plans

The Polo got here to India inside a yr of its worldwide launch and represented German high quality at its finest. Its powerful construct, beefy suspension and driving dynamics helped it stand aside from the competitors on the time, nevertheless it was let down by a pair of weak engines. The pair of 75hp, 1.2-litre engines – a naturally aspirated petrol and a turbo-diesel – had been a transparent mismatch with the good chassis, and the cramped rear seat was a permanent weak point that remained till the tip.

After a profitable full first yr of manufacturing, Polo gross sales slipped into a gradual decline.

These weaknesses nonetheless didn’t cease clients from shopping for the Polo, which set a brand new benchmark for high quality and sturdiness. The hatchback acquired off to a flying begin, propelled to a big extent by the staggering quantity of promoting cash behind it. In 2011, its first full yr of manufacturing, VW bought 38,634 items, an incredible debut by any reckoning. Paradoxically, this was the Polo’s finest yr ever, and after 2013, gross sales began dropping, as the fact of the Polo’s excessive value of possession and poor resale worth began biting. Intense competitors from larger, better-equipped, and extra trendy premium hatches from Honda, Hyundai, and Maruti Suzuki additionally made life for the Polo tougher. Nonetheless, neither the Japanese nor the Koreans might match the German hatch for its sheer construct high quality and dynamics, and it’s these attributes that earned the Polo a gradual fan following for the remainder of its years.

Volkswagen Polo: A number of adjustments of coronary heart

Quickly after the launch, VW India realised the Polo wanted the precise set of engines to match its dynamically good chassis, and, in September 2010, it launched a much bigger, 105hp, 1.6-litre engine, which definitely made it a ‘hotter’ hatch. However it was the fabulous 105hp, 1.2 TSI engine mated to the DQ200 7-speed twin-clutch auto transmission that accorded the Polo the standing of scorching hatch.

This astonishing engine, with its punchy mid vary and broad torque unfold, remodeled the Polo into essentially the most fun-to-drive hatch by far. The 1.2 TSI engine additionally showcased VW’s mastery of direct gasoline injection, turbocharged petrol expertise, which stays the gold customary within the business to this present day. TSI grew to become a moniker for energy, efficiency and refinement, and the Polo GT TSI discovered extra patrons than anticipated, regardless of its excessive value.

In 2014, the Polo obtained a minor facelift, however the massive improve was the introduction of the 90hp, 1.5 TDI engine, which got here as a blessing for diesel lovers that had been unimpressed by the unrefined and underpowered three-cylinder 1.2 TDI it changed. Extra importantly, the 1.5 TDI was a potent weapon within the Polo’s arsenal to stave off different premium diesel hatchbacks that had been gaining floor at a time when demand for diesel was at its peak. However, nonetheless good the punchy and frugal 1.5 TDI was, it couldn’t stem the gradual slide within the Polo’s gross sales.

The Polo was starting to point out its age, and this was made acutely obvious in 2017, when the Mk6 Polo, based mostly on the corporate’s future-ready MQB platform, was launched internationally – this successfully put the Indian Polo a era behind. In addition to, client preferences had been shifting to what was contained in the automotive fairly than what was below the bonnet. The electrical and digital (E/E) structure of the previous PQ25 platform, on which the Polo was based mostly, was its greatest limiting issue. It merely didn’t have the E/E firepower to supply the plethora of infotainment and linked options its rivals might. It is for that reason that the Polo soldiered on with old style analogue dials proper till the tip, and the touchscreen, which lastly arrived in 2017, appeared extra like an aftermarket fitment than one built-in with the automotive.

The 1.zero TSI was the final engine launched to the Polo in India.

The arrival of BS6 emission norms in April 2020 noticed the most important transformation to the Polo’s engine line-up – a few of it good, a few of it not so good. VW, nonetheless guilt-ridden after the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal in 2015, knocked off diesels from its whole line-up, the Polo’s included. The corporate didn’t wish to be seen as a diesel automotive firm and, therefore, didn’t wish to spend money on upgrading diesels to the brand new emission norms. It, as a substitute, targeted on its core TSI expertise. What the 2020 Polo acquired along with the bottom 76hp, 1.zero MPI engine was the most recent EA211 1.zero TSI, a compact, three-cylinder firecracker that developed a zesty 110hp, beloved to be revved, and had a zingy exhaust word.

The 1.zero TSI additionally noticed the debut of the 6-speed Aisin-sourced torque converter, which changed the DQ200 7-speed twin-clutch unit within the earlier 1.2 TSI. Fears that the torque converter would penalise efficiency proved unfounded, after our assessments confirmed that the brand new automated was really faster than the discontinued twin-clutch variant. However it was the 6-speed handbook that acquired essentially the most out of the 1.zero TSI, thus incomes the Polo true hot-hatch credentials. It was a becoming solution to bow out after 12 lengthy years.

Volkswagen Polo: The ultimate stretch

What lastly put paid to the Polo, although, was the price of making it. It was too costly for VW, which made an estimated 1,000-euro loss on each automotive bought. Constructed for European markets and shoppers, the Polo carried inherent prices to satisfy worldwide requirements of security and longevity, however sadly it’s not one thing shoppers had been prepared to pay for.

However its ‘Europeanness’ at all times endeared it to its house owners. Which is why it was not stunning that, in February this yr, after Autocar India broke the story concerning the Polo’s imminent finish, there was a rush to purchase the final remaining shares.

The Polo’s powerful construct, timeless design, and simply the way in which it drove, set it aside from the gang. It was for individuals who beloved vehicles, and that’s how the Polo will probably be remembered.

HORMAZD SORABJEE

Volkswagen Polo Cup: Race on Sunday, promote on Monday

Volkswagen couldn’t simply drop a press launch concerning the Polo’s departure and be performed with it. Not with the adore it stirred in its followers’ hearts. It wanted a correct ship off, and what higher solution to bid farewell than have a good time its motorsport pedigree at a racetrack. If Chakan is the place the Polo was born, the MMRT (Madras Motor Race Monitor) has been its playground for these 12 years; a playground that has seen the rise of the Polo Cup.

Polo Cup race collection proved VW’s engineering prowess to patrons of the street automotive.

The Polo Cup vehicles aren’t merely customary vehicles with a little bit of a tune-up and a few nice-looking race stickers. They’re correct race vehicles with slick tyres, fully stripped out interiors, a racing roll cage, fireplace extinguishing system, stiffened suspension; and within the final cup season, the engine was tuned to make extra of 200hp and mated to a sequential gearbox.

Polo Cup might need come to an finish, however VW Motorsport will stay on. 

Inside, there’s nothing greater than a single stiff race seat with five-point seat belts, a compact MOMO steering wheel, a tiny display screen changing the dials that reads out your temperatures and pressures, and completely no sound deadening. In consequence, from the second the engine rumbles into life, the race automotive fully sounds the half after which the blisteringly fast acceleration, spine-jolting shifts and highly effective braking, all present reactions of a automotive bred to race. It drove in a fashion belying its age and it mustered out some unimaginable laps, bouncing over the kerbs and tearing down the straights.

VW RX ‘Winter Mission’ is a 205hp, mid-engined, RWD monster.

Underneath Sirish Vissa (head, VW Motorsport), the Polo Cup, which began again in 2010, grew to nice heights. It began off with the Polo TDI, transferring on to Polo TSI, then the Vento Cup, adopted by the Ameo Cup, earlier than lastly coming again to the Polo in 2020. Vissa was additionally the driving force behind some extremely cool tasks just like the mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive Polo RX. Nonetheless, his child was the Polo Cup and whereas he stood within the pits watching proudly as every Cup automotive rumbled throughout the beginning/end straight, you possibly can sense the emotion beneath his well-known ear-to-ear smile. There gained’t be a Polo Cup anymore, however due to many fans everywhere in the nation, his creations and their legacy, similar to the Polo, will proceed to stay on.

JAY PATIL

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About the author

Raghav