It’s not on top, its inside…
Volkswagen’s locally-built sixth-generation Polo is big news in South Africa. Longer, lower and larger inside, it brings cool tech to not only rival some far more expensive cars in safety and kit, but it also impresses under the bonnet, where Volksie’s latest 3-pot litre TSI is among the stars of a blockbuster cast.
Not that you won’t be pressed to tell this evolution from the last Polo apart, the cabin is where the biggest plusses lie and there, it's revolutionary – chic, cool and groundbreaking as it dares you with a metallic red swathe across the dash. It packs cool too – that 8-inch touchscreen Active Info Display being an essential option.
The Beats audio system included in this special edition car is certainly good and it will be a selling point for the younger crowd, however I find that the bass becomes too harsh as soon as the volume goes up, even when bass is lowered in audio settings. The audio system has a tendency to drown the vocals in bass — something that young adults will probably prefer at times.
We used Beats as our pits office at a recent raceday, finding it a serene haven from the clatter and racket outside as that sound system played gently in the background. It’s the same on the road - comfy, quiet and a pleasant place to be.
On the road, I’m personally not a fan of these driver aids – they can be intrusive and perturbing, but you may well find them comforting and reassuring. Polo packs it all from lane-changing to blind spot, rear traffic and driver alert among its nannies. Add after-crash braking, semi-automated parking and more – impressive for essentially an entry-level car.
This one has the more powerful 85kW direct injection 12-valve turbo triple litre TSI. Impressive, but even more so at the Reef, where some rivals’ performance promise will fall apart without turbocharging. To be honest, we were expecting a little better from it though, even if those performance figures are quite adequate.
See, last issue’s test of that Vivo GT, which has a touch less power from the same engine and a 6-speed ‘box versus this one’s five-hooker at forty-grand off, proved significantly quicker in our tests.
So, if you’re after the tech and the cool, this Polo is quite the peach. But if it’s performance and poise you’re after, then that older but faster Vivo is quite an attraction. The price of progress, perhaps? - Giordano Lupini
QUICK TEST: Volkswagen Polo Hatch 1.0 TSI Highline Beats
Engine: 85kW 175Nm 999cc turbo petrol I3
Drive: 5-speed manual FWD
0-100km/h: 10.19 sec
400m: 17.1 sec @ 179km/h
80-120km/h: 7.79 sec
CO2: 103 g/km
PRICE: R286 700