It’s a nice sunny Melbourne day and I roll into the petrol station in a small, red…Diesel. The gentleman next to me in his V8 SS Commodore has a quick chuckle when he hears the truck like idle of the Polo, quietly wishing his car wasn’t purchased to compensate for something else...
So, I feel like a bit of a cheapskate, not only am I in a small car but it’s also a Diesel. After I fill up and jump back in I sit for a moment and think to myself. I just filled up the 45 litre tank and won’t have to return to the petrol station for another 750KM, who cares if I get laughed at!
The Volkswagen Polo I was driving was fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission. One thing that I loved about the gearbox and clutch setup was that it was so easy to drive. You could put a person that has never driven a manual into this car and they would have mastered it within minutes. The clutch didn’t have a drawn out activation process and the gearbox had a short and sharp throw, making it an absolute breeze to drive.
From the second you turn the key you can hear that the Polo TDI means business. The engine fires to life and sits there clattering away waiting for driver input. The 4-cylinder Diesel engine makes 74kW at 4000RPM and 240Nm of torque between 1800-2400RPM. If you nail the throttle in the right gear you get a fantastic amount of torque thrown at you, propelling the Polo to 100KM/h in just under 11 seconds. The best part is that the Polo handles surprisingly well. It makes city driving fun and easy to take care of.
The TDI has a starting price of $22,990. This is up there with the likes of the Toyota Yaris YRX (5-door hatchback, $22,090), Nissan Tiida Hatch and Ford Fiesta/Focus. Although the asking price for the Polo seems a bit rich you really do get a commendable package. Out of the Diesels I have driven, Volkswagen seems to have one of the best. They may be classed as noisy but the power on tap is very hearty and the motor itself is quite lively.
Interior room is very generous for a car of its size. The boot is at least 4 times larger than the one offered by the Toyota Yaris and the rear passengers don’t need to fight as much for breathing room as other small vehicles. As a driver I felt like I had ample room and was able to see out of all corners of the car without being hindered by any of the pillars. One of the few quirks was the ‘hijack protection’; when you reach 20km/h the doors automatically lock, preventing hijackings at traffic lights and while the vehicle is stationary. It can become a little irritating if your passengers try to get out whilst the key is still in the ignition, as the doors don’t automatically unlock until the key has been removed.
The stereo sounds nice but don’t expect Mark Levinson style audio precision. One thing that irked me was that there wasn’t volume level information. Each time the driver adjusted the volume, it wouldn’t display any volume levels or information corresponding to the audio level. Although it’s not a vital piece of information, it just makes life a little easier. At night time the radio fascia lights up neon blue, substantially “funking” up the interior.
Without wishing to paraphrase the controversial Australian advertisement; the fuel economy was bloody brilliant! Although it only has a 45L tank, it kept going and going and going, I managed to average around 6.5L/100km with a majority of city driving. That’s a godsend when you consider the price of petrol.
The interior is very well built. Everything feels remarkably solid and worthy of a more expensive badge. Although the fascia layout is somewhat bland and boring, it’s easy to use and requires very little, if any pre-acquaintance prior to use; unlike some other brands that require a rocket science degree to turn the heater down. One of the downsides in the interior was the fact that you could see the wiring and paintwork down the handbrake shaft. For some reason I preferred the steering wheel fitted to the TDI over the GTI, it felt far easier to handle and was a great size.
Although there are two other models in the Polo range (not including the GTI), the TDI would be my pick of the bunch.
Diesels are an evolving life form; there are more and more flowing onto the shores of Australia. There is a lot to like in the Volkswagen Polo. If you can get used to the truck like idle, you will simply fall in love with the fuel use and the ease of parking and driving the Polo. It would make for a fantastic first car or a car that is used for doing the shopping and traveling around town.
If you are in the market for a fuel-miser or run around car, you can’t go past the Volkswagen Polo TDI, the brand stands for European build quality and the engine stands for fuel economy and torque. It’s a car that simply doesn’t put a foot wrong.
CarAdvice rating (out of 5):
- by Paul Maric