After 12 years in the Indian market, the Volkswagen Polo is bowing out with a special edition. So, we drove it for one last time at the MMRT and even extensively sampled the Polo Cup race car.
My earliest memory of the Polo goes back to about eight years, when I had the GT TDI – remember the only diesel GT version of the car? – as a long-term test car. Even then, I loved the Polo for what it offered – amazing build quality, practicality, and a genuine hot hatch experience, in the GT TDI version, with low running costs. Needless to say, I enjoyed my time with the Polo thoroughly.
Fast forward to 2022, after being in the market for 12 years, the Polo is bowing out with a Legend Edition trim. But before it goes out, Volkswagen kindly invited us to the MMRT in Chennai for one last hurrah at the track. And, to add to the fun, we were also allowed to pilot the Polo Cup race cars as an added incentive – not that we needed one in the first place. So, here’s how the day went.
The latest Polo Cup cars are powered by a 1.8-litre engine, which develops around 210bhp. Add to that reduced weight, a roll cage, a faster steering, custom suspension, slick tyres, and other racing enhancements, and what you get is nothing short of a sensation on the track. The MMRT also added to the experience, with its tight curves and technical corners, which made driving a small, fast car around it a lot of fun. With its excellent handling and wonderful grip, it was easy to take the first corner of the track absolutely flat out in the Polo Cup car. And despite all the bumps on the track, the car tracked the line faithfully – the C3-C4 complex was also a lot of fun. While the cars were virtual ovens – no air-conditioning in April Chennai weather can be brutal – driving with the window open offered some relief.
While the superlative performance of the race cars on the track was expected, it was the performance of the road cars – the Polo and Taigun – on the track that surprised us. The standard Polo, with a 1.0-litre turbo engine, had more than enough pace for the track. Even after 12 years into its lifetime, it sets a very high benchmark in terms of handling. The Taigun went even better on the track – its handling setup is simply sublime, probably the best in its class. The way the SUV turns in, remains neutral and offers an engaging experience makes it one of the best SUVs to drive in its class, if not the best.
Fundamentally, the excellent performance of the cars on the track also proved the brilliance of German engineering in both the Polo and the new MQB platform, exhibiting the excellence of VW cars when pushed to the limits. No wonder, then, that the Polo still remains one of the best driver’s cars in its class, despite its age.
To mark the iconic legacy, the Volkswagen Polo Legend Edition comes with ‘Legend’ badging on the fender and boot badge. The Legend Edition is available on the GT TSI variant.