A segment leader in terms of sales, the new Volkswagen Polo now leads the segment in terms of safety, infotainment and engine technology too, reports Reuben van Niekerk
Since its launch in 2010, the Polo hatch has consistently been the second best-selling passenger car in South Africa, with its sibling the Polo Vivo being the best selling. In 2017 alone the Polo was bought by 22 916 customers.
The completely redesigned generation of this best selling car has a clear, powerful design, more interior room, more efficient engines and pioneering driver assistance systems.
A new exterior design makes the car appear sportier and more grown up, which it is with increases in all directions and more space for the driver and passengers. Rear legroom has also been significantly improved to a point that the Polo can easily carry four adults in comfort. The boot volume too has grown, from 280 to 350 litres.
In addition to the standard Trendline, Comfortline and Highline trim lines, the special edition Polo Beats, R-Line package and performance focused halo model, the Polo GTI (available in SA in the second quarter), provide added variety to the model range and ensure that there is a Polo to suit a wide variety of customers.
The sixth generation Polo is the first Polo based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform. The technical advantages of the MQB can be found under the skin, these included improved body stiffness, very good crash properties and unchanged body weight, despite the greater size and enhanced safety features. Comfort gains have been made courtesy of the 92mm longer wheelbase, optimised entry and exit for rear seating and overall package improvements.
The dynamic effects of the MQB A0 platform are reflected in the Polo’s new dimensions, it has grown 81mm in length and wheelbase; it is 69mm wider while the height has been reduced by 8mm.
Parallel to the standard features, the trim lines feature different interior trims, colours and fabrics. One of the most striking individualisation features is the instrument panel with dash pad, which is offered with different coloured trims.
The newly developed horizontal dashboard design focuses on the driver with the dashboard and centre console slightly angled. All key modules are located on one visual axis, creating a coherent digital cockpit landscape.
A new generation of the Active Info Display makes its debut in the Polo. This combines the new Active Info Display and the new 8-inch touchscreen to form a modern, glass encased functional unit that creates an elegant appearance combined with simple controls similar to a high-end smartphone.
The display offers better graphic performance, higher pixel density, greater brightness and contrast, more intense colours and fewer conventional indicator lamps. The Active Info Display is optional across the range excluding Trendline models. The high-quality graphics conveys a completely new look and feel with their progressive design.
This technology helps to create a digital and interactive cockpit environment and this is bolstered by a variety of the latest generation infotainment systems that have display sizes ranging from 6.5 to 8.0 inches. Specifically, these are the Composition Colour (6.5-inch radio-infotainment, Composition Media (8.0-inch radio-infotainment with CD player) and Discover Media (8.0-inch radio-navigation infotainment with CD player.)
The ultra-modern colourful beats special edition of the new Polo features several beats logos and a 300-watt sound system from headphones producer “beats by Dr. Dre”. Wrapping up the package are side sills emblazoned with beats audio branding and a striking seat upholstery design in Aqua Graphite, Velvet Red and Ceramique.
The entry-level 1,0 litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine in the line up boasts 70kW and 175Nm and allows the Polo to complete the 0-100km/h sprint in 10.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 187km/h in both five-speed manual and seven-speed DSG guise. This agility is coupled with a low fuel consumption figure of 4,5l/100km.
A slightly more powerful variation of the same engine delivers 85kW and 200Nm and is equipped with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG gearbox.
Another advantage of the Polo being based on the MQB platform is that it allows for the model to be equipped with a number of new driver assistance systems. These include the lane change system, Blind Spot monitor with Rear traffic alert, semi-automated Park Assist system for exiting parking spaces, the proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function. The latter automatically protects against minor but often expensive parking dents.
The Polo’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System automatically initiates a braking action, even before the driver can react, helping to avoid secondary collisions or reduce their severity.
Driver Profile Selection, standard on the Highline gives the driver a choice between four programmes: Eco, Sport, Normal and Individual. In the Eco driving mode, engine control, air conditioning and other auxiliary systems are regulated in a manner that ensures optimal fuel efficiency. In vehicles fitted with DSG, a coasting function can also be used with Eco mode, when the driver releases the accelerator pedal on downhill stretches the DSG disengages and the engine idles. In Sport mode the damping of the adjustable dampers is increased (with Sport Select running gear), while engine response and shift points of the DSG gearbox are configured to be more dynamic.
The new Polo has truly grown up with slight increases in size, an array of cutting edge technology and infotainment systems and new generation engines. But it is certainly not outgrowing its segment, with pricing only slightly increased from the outgoing model, which should see this new model follow in the footsteps of predecessor and become a sales leader and fleet favourite.
1.o TSI 70kW Trendline R235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline R264 700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG R280 700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline R286 200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG R302 200