We won’t mince our words in expressing the disappointment with the overall sales performance of Polo over the past three years since it was launched in Feb, 2010 by VW amid much fan-fare and frenzy. This feeling is especially saddening as initially every one of us at ecardlr had very high hopes about this world renowned small car as we strongly believed that finally Maruti’sSwift would get its match and there would be a fierce fight between these two formidable rivals for hatchback king crown. Unfortunately that didn’t happen as Polo failed to shake up the competition as, by and large, its presence failed to cut the Swift’s selling mustard. Now this less-than-expected commerce of Polo in Indian market can be easily blamed on VW’s premium pricing strategy and Polo’s lack-lustre diesel motor; especially when compared squarely with Swift’s brilliant DDIS oil-burner.Over the time we expected VW to learn from these initial mistakes and hoped to witness Polo’s launch with more capable engines; at least on diesel front. But sadly things have not been changed for betteras both these contentious virtues continue to remain intact in the VW’s current market capturing plan. We admit that in gasoline-category company has tried to zing up the things by plonking its award-winning TSI petrol engineunder badge of Polo GT TSI model, things remain plainly unanimated in case of crucial diesel segment even as the latest diesel iteration of Polo, designated as Cross Polo, has come with same old 3-cylinder oil-burner unit. This new dashing and rugged avatar of Polo; aggressively touted as Cross Polo in the corridors of Indian automobile market has been widely seen as German attempt to accelerate the slow-selling pace of its premium hatchback model. VW seems to assume that it can makes its hatchbackgradehigh with this new Cross Polo that has been equipped with host of external and internal skinningamendments but devoid of crucial engine and mechanical modifications. So now in order to weigh the substance beneath this over optimism of VW, we at ecardlr, decides to have a date with this newly incarnated version of Teutonic beauty. For the same we book the table for two and then to make this moment even more memorable we decided to meet at two completely opposite locations and environments. City restaurant and highway cafeteria had been chosen for this hush-hush engagement and reason behind this two-pronged place strategy is to get full acquaintance with each and every characteristic of Cross Polo before we finally decide to invest into this new relation. Also this long and comprehensive meet ultimately help us to precisely conclude whether this new tender feeling is really worth falling in love with Cross Polo or not. Now to check our update relationship status with Polo log on to ecardlr as we present you the whole picture of this new affair updated after this enticing and enthralling meet.
The most distinctive feature of Cross Polo is its grey-colour body cladding that runs all-around the vehicle; making Polo looks muscular and rugged in its dressing. In fact this cladding theme seems to be inspired from the SUV concepts that have been flooding the market of late and VW has targeted to wean away their customers also with this new macho look of its premium hatchback. Front grill now feature a crossed theme design and single slat of chrome has replaced the older multi-slated arrangement. Smoked effect headlamps are continuous to feature their cutting-edge style while Cross Polo badging has been is prominently emblazoned on the body panels to make its sufficiently distinctive than ordinary one.
Side view enhances the visual appeal with stylish roof-rails and 4-spoke alloy wheels. The sleek and glistering lines still define the profile view of the car which is best thing about the vehicle. Shut line exudes the finesse of engineering and paint quality is easily the best available in the market.
Rear too follows the cladding theme as the bumper at the back houses the very useful reflectors too. Number plate arrangement has been altered a bit though the change is afr from being perceptible.
Overall Cross Polo comes with all the goodies of previous design and has added the masculinity factor just right in proportion. The added ruggedness doesn’t interfere with the overall coherence and sophistication of the Polo design for which it has been loved by both critics and customers. Build quality too remain class leading and even has the potential to put sedans to shame in terms of strength and rigidity
In contrast to apparent outside changes, the differences inside the cabin is less observable except the adoption of all-black colour theme instead of two-tone interior scheme of ordinary Polo. However there are some other changes too that VW has made into cabin like leather wrapped steering wheel and handbrake, use of high quality scratch resistant plastics and provision of luggage compartment cover with parcel tray.
From dash board to console and controls to stalks, everything in Polo is made up of high and class leading quality and that’s really necessary if the company wants to play the gamble of premium price strategy. Still the design and fixing arrangement of the things heavily lacks the flair quotient as the zing factor is completely missing in the VW’s cabin. And all black-theme has further accentuated the monotony of the whole interior design. We would definitely like to see some spruced up fitting arrangement in this Cross Polo though on quality front Polo continuous to be segment benchmark.
Space comfort is superb at the front of Polo while rear bench have the same old average marks in overall passenger convenience. Front seats have got good support and excellent bolstering though they sits low; thereby making the all-around visibility at premium. The overall low slung arrangement also takes its toll at the back as passengers have to stoop down to get inside. Similar acrobatics have to be performed while egressing and that makes this Cross Polo a bit impractical. Seat space is good in terms of legroom and knee room at the back bench though head room has been compromised in order to give an ultra-chic look to the vehicle.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
As the power plant has been carried over, this essentially means we are driving the same peaky and happy mid-range oil burner that has been tuned to deliver 75 PS of power along with 180 Nm of torque. This motor generate these figures with the help of 3-cylinder arranged in inline geometry mated with 5-speed manual transmission.
Being a 3-cylinder configuration, this motor lacks the refinement of the competitors’ model. There is quite a shake the moment this engine rumbles to life and that feeling is apparently detectable even inside the car. On the move too this sound never goes off and acts like a stubborn companion and it hardly matters whether you like its company or not. Throttle responses are far from being the benchmark as the Polo moves with little spiritedness at lower rev range of engine. Turbo lag is very discernible and remain there up to 2200 rpm mark. After this limit however Polo engine wakes up and then the whole adventure starts. Midrange of Polo is briskly quick making Polo a solid mile-munching machine on the highways.
Prominently badged TDI motor of the Cross Polo is mated with 5-speed manual transmission. This transmission is best in business as it offers quick, slick and snappy shifts. Small lever and short throwing makes the gear changes a pleasurable affair that one wants to resort to again and again. Foot well has quite roomy though the addition of dead pedal would have made it best. Clutch is at par with standards though not as light as of Amaze and some other diesels. Brakes are strong and complement the stability factor of the Cross Polo.
Cross Polo comes with McPherson strut up front and semi-independent trailing arm at rear to suspend the 15” alloy wheels treaded with 185 mm wide rubber. Wide stance and low-slung posture of Cross Polo help the car to give utmost level of ride comfort to passengers with quite entertaining handling too. Cross Polo remain unfazed by the condition of the roads and just glides over the rough patches with aplomb. The optimum setup that treads a fine line of ride-handling balance is close to the benchmark set by Punto and Figo. Highway stability of Cross Polo is wonderful while city commute too offers hassle free ride to owners. Suspension has a good travel range and has the good ability to soak all the road undulations.
Cross Polo like its sibling Polo handles quite well; thanks to its taut chassis and balanced suspension settings. There are hardly any mischievous behaviour as everything behaves in expected way until one crosses the cornering limit. Unexpected moves and sharp decelerations are handled excellently by this Polo. There are no cues of under-steer or over-steer as most of the adventurous manoeuvers are handled bravely by Polo.
Cross Polo has been launched only in top end version; highline with price of Rs 7.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). Cross Polo once again emphasises on premium price policy of VW and it is about Rs 80k costlier than its ordinary Polo’s counterpart. This means the whole package of Cross Polo continuous to be on low side when it comes to overall Value for Money proposition and this is exactlywhere VW has again committed the mistake. In fact company would have been in more price justifiable position had it offered Cross Polo with at least a new oil burner or at least tweaked the current unit for better drivability and refinement. Only by offering extra styling kit in terms of new cladding theme and all-black interiors won’t do much justice to the demand of almost around Rs 8 lakh for a hatchback. And this fact is more relevant in Indian context where people are extremely cost-conscious and price sensitive by their very basic nature.
Style& Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 2.5/5