Someone once told me, “You can’t put a price on fun.” Well, Volkswagen has just proved them wrong.
In school, we segregated each other by the marks we got – so, there was the smart group, the average, and, of course, the below-average lot. But our teachers had a different way of telling us apart, and they formed their own categorization for students. For example, there were the short ones, the tall ones, the intelligent ones, the hard working ones, the absentees, the sports people, and then there were those like me – the quick tiffin-eaters, a.k.a. the fat ones.
As students, we were never aware of this compartmentalisation because – well – it’s a trade secret. So, how did I learn about it? To be honest, I did what Socrates did best – ask. And since it was all in jest, I was able to uncover at least this little secret. After all, teachers too need to have their fun.
Speaking of which, this is one element that goes missing most often in the cars that are sold in India. But, finally, one brave manufacturer has decided to challenge the status quo and delight driving enthusiasts in India. And the manufacturer in question is no less than Volkswagen with two ‘special’ Polo’s – the GT TSI (petrol) and the GT TDI (diesel).
The petrol hot-hatch was launched not too long ago, to rave reviews, and Volkswagen wanted to extend this joy to diesel car buyers as well – and so comes the GT TDI. Now, visually you wouldn’t necessarily know that these Polo’s are special – there isn’t much difference on the outside, save for the GT badges on the rear.
The GT TDI gets a 1.6-litre, 4 cylinder diesel motor, which churns out a hefty 105bhp and 250Nm of torque. Now, one has to remember that over 100bhp in a hatch is pretty substantial. The only other hatch with nearly this kind of power is the i20 diesel, but that doesn’t have any sporting pretensions.
In the GT TDI, once you start the engine and put it into gear, you realise that it gets off to a lazy start. But once that turbo kicks in at 2,000rpm, it’s difficult to catch this jack-rabbit as it hops like its tail is on fire. Unlike most diesels that run out of breath at 4,000rpm, the GT TDI’s motor keeps pulling strongly till 5,000rpm – and since the engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, it’s like a dream come true for those who love working the stick.
The car has the same suspension setup as its other lower specced siblings, and, therefore, leans on the softer side – quite literally. And considering that it is a ‘hot’ hatch, the steering feel could be better as well. Make no mistake, it’s fairly direct and precise, but I’d like it to talk to me much more intimately than it does.
Volkswagen aims to lure the enthusiast with this GT badge, and justifiably so. This is a group that has been grossly neglected by carmakers in India, and now – in the short span of just 4-5 months – two relatively hot hatches are vying for your attention. In fact, it was the Polo 1.6 petrol that set the ball rolling a couple of years ago. But market conditions demanded smaller displacement and even more output, and this is what gave birth to the 1.2-litre turbocharged, direct-injection petrol powertrain. Known as the GT TSI, this little beauty also produces over 100bhp – 103 to be exact. 175Nm of torque is available from as low as 1,400rpm, which means that it’s imminently accessible. And what makes all the power and torque even more accessible is the brilliant 7-speed DSG gearbox, which has three modes – D, S, and M. The one thing missing, though, are shift paddles on the steering.
The shifts are quite relaxed in D, but once you put it in S, there’s a sudden change in responsiveness of the drivetrain. The tachometer races towards the redline, and the shifts themselves are absolutely instant and seamless. The driveline is sublime, and is a joy to experience. The only downside is the soft suspension, which is at odds with the precision of the mechanical bits under the bonnet. At the end of the day, though, it’s all very engaging!
On the inside, both cars get somewhat sporty black and grey fabric with contrast stitching. There is also the climate control system from the Vento, and a new 2-DIN audio system that incorporates USB, Aux-in, an SD card reader, and Bluetooth connectivity. Both GT’s also have rear parking sensors added to the features list.
The GT’s are a value addition to the Polo line-up, and stand out as engaging top-of-the-line models. They can’t claim to be true hot hatches, though, without exterior differentiation and, more importantly, a stiffer setup. But, the question is – are they fun? You bet they are.
The GT TSI is more refined of course, but the TDI is just as much fun to pilot – if not more, depending on your choice of gearbox. Both cars will blitz past most everything else in traffic, and if that’s not fun I don’t know what is.
- VW POLO GT TDI
- VW POLO GT TSI
Transmission: 5-speed manual / Front-wheel drive
Power: 105bhp @ 4400rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1500-2500rpm
Price: RS 8.08 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Engine: 1,197cc/ 4 cylinders / direct injection / turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic / Front-wheel drive
Power: 103bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque: 175Nm @ 1500rpm
Price: RS 7.99 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi)