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2014 Volkswagen Polo 1.5 TDI: Review


Volkswagen has launched a new Polo and its highlight is the new, larger 1.5 diesel engine. Is it the best transformation the Polo could have had? We find out...
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Cornering
There’s no debating the fact that the Volkswagen Polo never sold to its potential. It was a good car – nice looking, well put together, comfortable and one of the best in its class when it came to the ride and handling balance. But, it had its shortcomings, and the two that really stood out were the 1.2-litre diesel engine that didn’t do the car’s weight or its dynamic ability justice, and the lack of rear space. Now, on the new Polo, the engine bit has seen a dramatic transformation. But, before we get there, let’s just bring you up to speed on what else is new. 
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Head Lamp
This is a facelift and not an all new car. But, even as facelifts go, the changes at the cosmetic end, aren’t that significant. Not a single body panel has changed, and the head and tail lamp design continues unchanged as well. The only change in the head lamps is the bezel design, which, it must be said, makes the Polo look even better now. There’s also a new front bumper with a chrome strip connecting the two fog lamps and a discreet chrome line at the bottom of the grille. These changes make the Polo look more premium. At the rear, the bumper has changed, but nothing else.
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Bumper
There’s a bit of change in the new Polo’s dimensions though. It is nearly the same length and width, but it stands 56mm taller. Surprisingly, this height isn’t courtesy higher ground clearance; in fact, according to the Polo’s spec sheet, the hatchback actually sits 3mm lower. Volkswagen has also increased the wheelbase on the new Polo by 13mm. It’s not a significant increase. And though, the Polo now uses front seats with scooped out backs, the increase in rear space also isn’t as telling.
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Review
The steering wheel design has changed and with its gloss black inserts, new buttons and toggles for the trip computer and audio controls, and a flat bottom design, it does look nicer than before. Volkswagen has also added brushed aluminium like finish to the centre console outline and given the Polo new seat fabric. The multi functional display or MFD in the instrumentation is new too; it now has bolder, easier to read numbers. None of these changes dramatically alter the Polo’s interior appeal, but are noteworthy alterations, nonetheless.
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Interior
The real change is under the hood. Gone is the wheezy three cylinder 1.2-litre diesel motor. Instead, the Polo now gets a much needed, 1.5-litre four cylinder unit. It is a derivative of the 1.6-litre diesel found on the Vento but thanks to a smaller bore, the engine capacity has dropped by 100cc, and with it, the engine now allows the Polo to qualify for small car excise benefits. The max power output is 90PS against 75PS of the older engine (which too was based on the 1.6-litre diesel, but thanks to dropping a cylinder, its rated capacity was 1199cc). 
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Engine
And, the peak torque rating has climbed too; it makes 230Nm compared to 180Nm developed by the previous engine. More importantly, the new 1.5-litre engine traces a flatter torque curve. So, wherein the older 1.2 diesel’s torque peaked at 2000rpm, the new engine develops its peak torque at 1500rpm and that remains flat till 2500rpm. Even post that, the drop in torque is less severe on the 1.5-litre than on the older engine.
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Rear
The end result is a Polo that is more refined, more driveable and more fun to drive. The engine is quieter and less vibey, both at idle and near its redline; which by the way, at 5000rpm, is quite healthy for a diesel engine. The throttle response on the new Volkswagen Polo diesel is instant; the power delivery is linear; and the turn of speed, surprisingly entertaining. 
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Side
If the earlier Polo diesel was like an old dog - slow and tired, the new one comes across as a hyper active puppy; dab the throttle and its ears perk up, keep pushing the pedal deeper into the foot well and it charges ahead as if there’s a treat to be had at the other end. The engine revs cleanly too. It works at its optimum in the mid-range and even though the grunt tapers off in the upper reaches of the rpm band, revving it to the redline still delivers good results. What’s more, even though it has a large slab of torque dumped on the front wheels at barely 1500rpm, the new Polo puts this down on the road very cleanly. There’s hardly any torque steer or unnecessary spinning up of the wheels. 
Volkswagen Polo 1.5 Diesel Action
The only area where the new engine can’t match up to the older 1.2-litre diesel, is fuel economy. The ARAI rating for the older engine was 22kmpl. For the new one, it is 20.1kmpl. But, we believe with the sort of driving experience the new car delivers, we’d pick the latter any day.
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