Category Archives: volkswagen polo

TEST DRIVE: VOLKSWAGEN POLO 1.6 HATCHBACK


Hello again folks, now’s the time for one of those longer than usual reviews that hopefully would assist you in your quest to purchase the correct car for the time being. Of course this is only for the time being as people change and tastes change along the way. Especially if you suddenly get that promotion and start thinking of cars bigger than the one you’re driving at the moment. It happens. And before I start going on and on and on, I’ve just got my hands on the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback and this is what I think about it. Do read on.


The design
The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback is a 5 door supermini sized hatchback that is assembled by Volkswagen in Malaysia, thereby keeping the price down. It is styled in the same way most Volkswagen cars are styled. You have that same clean lines as well as the familiar Volkswagen corporate grille on its nose. This variant of the Polo does not come with a TSI engine but a normally aspirated 16 valve 4 cylinder 1.6liter engine that makes 105PS at 5250rpm and 153Nm torque at 3800rpm. The power is then put through the front wheels via a conventional 6 speed torque convertor automatic gearbox.

Aside from this major drivetrain difference, the Polo 1.6 Hatchback has the same amount of creature comforts as the imported Polo 1.2TSI variants but without the technologically advanced turbocharged TSI engine and a Double Clutch type gearbox which can be slightly problematic for some unlucky owners sometimes. So it is because of this simple, albeit slightly down on power and torque drivetrain that the Polo 1.6 Hatchback is something one should keep in mind when looking at a slightly premium supermini to purchase. Read on and find out.
The interior

The interior is typically Volkswagen. This means that is has been thought out thoroughly. The switchgear are laid out logically and within reach of most fingers and hands. There is good tactile feel on all the knobs and buttons. The perceived quality at a glance is very good even if it looks a little plain in terms of stying and design. The instrumentation is very legible during all times of the day with clear and standardized fonts throughout the car.
When it comes to equipment, the Polo 1.6 Hatchback gets ‘Climatronic’ automatic air-conditioning – very impressive for a small car even though it isn’t dual zone in its controls. The reason for this is that the car isn’t that large to need a more complex system. This brings up the size of the Polo; it is actually well designed in terms of space utilization. It feels large and spacious up front due to the sloping dashboard. You have good headroom up front even though the seats can be adjusted high up and in the rear, legroom and head room is good even if a driver is about 177cm tall.
The seats as well as the steering wheel which telescopically adjusts for reach as well as the usual rake (or tilt). It makes searching for a driving position quite easy in this car. Aside from that the boot is pretty large too. It is slightly larger than a Perodua Myvi (which beats it for interior space) and it is also miles larger than the one in the Suzuki Swift too (the Swift’s boot is akin to a drawer), as well as interior space.
Material quality is good where you touch. The steering wheel and the gear knob is leather wrapped and very nice to hold and fondle (especially the gearknob). The armrests on the doors are lined by cloth. The only issue is that Volkswagen has cut some cost by making the whole dashboard in hard plastic. This actually differs if you sat in the Polo GTI. That gets a proper soft touch material so that everything feels slightly more luxurious. Of course, this IS the entry level Volkswagen here in Malaysia. That being said, the plastics are thick and not flimsy. The glovebox is a nice piece to play with and opens and closes well. And there are tons of space to put water bottles, wallets, cards and so on.
The audio system looks good and sounds good. It may not have ‘Arkamys’ like in the Peugeot 208 but I think it sounds better. And it has all the usual Bluetooth and USB support. It isn’t one of those GPS equipped systems but it looks premium.
The four drawbacks to the interior. Firstly, the seats are a little too hard in its padding. I believe this is due to the fact that this being a small car Volkswagen designed the foam to be hard to compensate for the thinness and smallness that is required in a car of this size. It isn’t uncomfortable, and actually makes travelling in the Polo bearable over longer trips. I suppose it is just the initial feel of the seats when you use the car on shorter trips. 

Secondy, some secondary switches like the cruise control and control for the information display on the meter cluster is a tad bit tiny. And since this is a base model, there are many, many, many empty slots for buttons in the middle of the dashboard underneath the air-vents. Of course, you still get tons of kit so I suppose those must be buttons for traction control ‘off’, sunroof controls, rocket launchers, ejector seat controls and so on. Not items you really need in your daily commute of course. 

Thirdly, the rear seats don’t fold as flat as you would want them to. But unless you really need them really, really flat, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to those using it for regular commutes.

And finally, like some modern small cars (the Toyota Vios comes to mind), it does not have a water temperature gauge. This means, like the Vios you would only know you’re in trouble when you’re in trouble…i.e, when the red warning light comes on. For people like Yours Truly, this warning may be too late. But one must note that most small cars omit this gauge this days. Volkswagen isn’t alone in this not so tiny detail.

The overall look and quality of the interior is up by at least half a notch against the Suzuki Swift if one were to compare. It however feels a little less luxurious compared to the Peugeot 208 though. Only slightly. The Myvi is nowhere close to this and looks like it came from the same factory that builds the pails you buy to store water in times of water crisis. The bottom-line is that you do feel quite good sitting inside of the Polo 1.6 Hatchback.

Driving the darn thing.
As stated above, it is easy to find a nice driving position in the Polo 1.6 Hatchback. The steering wheel adjusts nicely and is of a very nice shape to hold. It isn’t overly chunky like in a BMW (especially those with the M Sport wheel) or too thin like the one on, say a Proton Suprima S. Once you are seated, you fire up the Polo with a traditional key. None of those start button nonsense here. You just twist and it starts.
Once on the move you would find that the car is very easy to drive. The car has more than enough power to keep up with normal traffic at the traffic lights and on highways it would easily cruise at the legal speed limits. The steering is a speed sensitive electronic power steering so parking is easy and light with rear parking sensors. At speed the steering gets weighted up a little. It is accurate and allows one to place the Polo where it should be in a corner. It isn’t vague and does not feel over assisted like some electrically assisted helms.
The ABS and brake assist equipped brakes are good in their feel and easy to modulate if you’re really hustling the car. They do not have an overly servoed feel like some Volkswagen/ Audis of yore. The 6 speed gearbox with its Tiptronic function is rather smooth in traffic and seems to be in the right gear most of the time. It can actually change down two gears when needed. Even when belting the car on some mountainside road the transmission copes with repeated and rapid gearchanges well.

The ride comfort of the Polo 1.6 is good. It actually smothers bumps and undulations quite well. It does not bounce over them like the Peugeot 208. It is better than the Suzuki Swift 1.4 which is sportier in its setup. It is slightly firmer than a Toyota Vios but overall NVH is better in that over speed bumps the car is more compliant. Wind noise is kept under control as is engine noise. According to long time VW fan and friend Ken, it has that typical VW’ish sound when on the move. The engine is less harsh than the Peugeot 208 at most speeds mainly due to having a 6 speed automatic over a 4 speeder in the Pug. In fact that 6 speed makes it quite fun to drive. Road noise is also quite well capped too. Overall the car is refined for a supermini or B segment car.
So how good is the Polo to drive? Quite high up there.
The car, which weighs 1020kg unladen is light and can handle direction changes quite well. The steering is effective in pointing the nose where you want it to be and when you do there is no unwanted movement within its limits. The 185/60/15 sized tyres may not be the last word in grip but is adequate for a car with 105ps. Although I would have to throw some caution to the wind as this tiny Polo came with Apollo tyres – which were made in India (where this base model Polo was designed for and where the CKD kits are imported from). A Polo with Apollo tyres. It rhymes! Now whilst they actually work well in the pouring rain (and flood) unknown tyre brands make me a little nervous in the wet. But throw it into a corner when things are dry and the Polo responds well. It may not be as adjustable as my benchmark favourite supermini in this price range, the Suzuki Swift 1.4 but it is predictable with a nose led neutral to understeer feel. The tail seldom comes into play even though you Good for most Malaysian drivers and acceptable for those willing to have more thrills. However, it is more thrilling to drive than the 4 speed automatic Pug 208 and obviously the local affordable favourite, the Perodua Myvi which is actually the shopping trolley for the masses.
As for performance figures, it is average. It has an 11second 0-100kmh time and a 184kmh top speed. It isn’t a hot hatch of course but if you use it as what it is meant to be, a capable supermini for regular short commutes it performs more than adequately. In fact cruising at 130kmh is quite relaxing in this car with no stress to the driver whatsoever (I.e you don’t need to concentrate too much to drive at these speeds allowing you to drive for a longer stretch without feeling tired). This makes it suitable for the occasional trips back to one’s hometown or on roadtrips throughout Malaysia and more.
So did I find any other faults in the time I had with the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback? Aside from the tiny switchgear, slightly hard padding on the seats, and the lack of a water temperature gauge, the car performed very well in traffic, on long commutes, on the morning school run, on shopping trips and even when belting through some tight hillside roads.

 It also performed well during the pouring rain except for one tiny leak on the driver’s side window frame when stationary during the rain induced traffic jam when we were travelling on Jalan Duta. It did not leak when we were on the move and it did not leak again after I got home and started meddling with it, pushing and fiddling with the seals on the door as well as trying to replicate it with water from a garden hose. I suppose I must have fixed it. So this must have boiled down to some quality control issues at the factory and is easily sorted out.
Conclusion.
For RM87,888 (without insurance) the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback is indeed a nice car to own. If anyone is looking for a car in this RM90,000 region this is one of the cars you should look at. Of course being Malaysia the tax structure is darn frustrating as you could buy a Proton Inspira which is a larger car and is actually a better buy. The Polo is very well designed and has a certain perceived quality in a car that is not from this price range. If you want this car as a capable second car, one that you could use for outstation trips, this Polo is it. If you are one that does not travel outstation and want a nippy city car. This car would do well too. More than you’d think too.
Aside from the usual fears of Volkswagen being an expensive owner experience I highly doubt that this could happen if you bought this Polo 1.6 Hatchback or even its sedan variant. These cars have very little technology to go wrong and I expect servicing costs to be affordable too. In the time I had the Polo nothing really big went wrong.
Even after taking the car up and down Genting Sempah and using it in ‘manual’ tiptronic mode, flicking it in 2nd and 3rdand revving it almost to the red line, the little VeeDub kept going and performing without a hiccup. This was after a trip to Shah Alam and back before heading up to the highlands. And it had about 12,200km on the clock too.
Again, this Polo 1.6 Hatchback and the Polo 1.6 sedan are the only Volkswagen cars I would seriously recommend my friends (I would recommend my enemies some other model though). As such, the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback gets my seal of approval. IF it means anything these days that is.

Anyway, if you haven’t caught this short video of Yours Truly driving the Polo 1.6 Hatchback, here it is again. 
2014 CKD VOLKSWAGEN POLO 1.6 HATCHBACK SPECIFICATIONS:
Base Price: RM87,888 (w/o insurance)
Body: 5-door Hatchback
Mechanical Orientation: Front Wheel Drive
Engine: 4 cylinder 16 valve fuel injected 1.6-litre normally aspirated
Power: 105PS
Torque: 153 NM
Transmission: 6 speed automatic with Tiptronic
Weight: 1020kg
0-100 km/h: 11 seconds (tested)
Top Speed: 184 km/h (manufacturer’s figures)
Fuel Consumption: I got an average of around 8ltr/100km even with a very heavy right foot. It would easily make 7ltr/100km if someone with a lighter right foot drove it. Very, very economical.
For: Equipment, intelligent design and layout, quality, boot space, comfort, good ride and handling, class leading NVH, economical, basic engine and gearbox ensure lower maintenance costs than TSI and DSG models, decent performance

Against: tiny switchgear, slightly hard padding on the seats, and the lack of a water temperature gauge, some build quality issues on the test car, rear seats don’t fold really flat

More Volkswagen Tales of Woe – Facebook community survey results and some comments

There is a Facebook group that was started by a group of Malaysian Volkswagen owners who are extremely disappointed (to say the least) by the supposedly appalling after-sales service quality over at Volkswagen Malaysia. I am not surprised as I have written a couple or so times as regards how unreliable VW cars have been in recent years. you can have a look at the group here.

As a recap, it would seem that any VW with the DSG transmission and some TSI engines (mainly the smaller turbocharged direct injected 1.2 liter engine and the 1.4liter turbocharged and supercharged engine from the previous Golf TSI are in question). have reliability issues. The DSG suffers from the part that controls gearchanges or the mechanical-electronic (mechatronic) controller and the engine suffers from excessive engine oil consumption, more than a liter every two weeks is expensive if you know what I mean. I personally only recommend Volkswagens to my enemies and it seems appropriate to do so.

And so, I am now pleased to report to you a survey conducted by the chaps running the Facebook page – VW DSG 7 Defects Community. 163 people entered it and this folks, is what came of it:

About 163 people took part in the survey. Incidently the Facebook group mentioned herein had over that 1,200 Likes, so close to 15% took part in the survey. Most of them who took part were cars 2010 or younger and a majority were the Golf 1.4TSI and Polo 1.2TSI owners. More than half suffered DSG issues and about 11% suffered engine issues. Holy Crap. 
(Actual findings will be shown at a later date, after an event stated below)
On a personal note, I know of only two reliable VW owners. Both Polo owners, one a 1.2TSI and the other an earlier, very reliable manual, non-TSI Polo GTI  1.8 (which is in and out of the workshop due to the owner’s ambition of making it into an extremely fast hatchback – and failing). I know of a two year old Passat owner who has has three batteries installed in his Passat – luckily under warranty as a Varta battery costs over RM1,500 from the dealer and has a serial number that HAS TO BE KEYED IN after the change. He also suffered initial DSG software issues and is contemplating of going back to his old Mercedes C-Class. I have driven a friend’s Golf 1.4TSI with DSG issues, which makes the car seriously bad in traffic. I have a friend who is close to a VW-Audi specialist workshop and he states that every week at least two VWs go in for a mechatronic controller change, that costs thousands. So, personally, my ratio of satisfied VW customers and those that are suffering (to some extent) is at 50:50. This is actually quite bad as Proton has less issues than this.
Speaking about Proton, Volkswagen is actually the Proton of Germany. I have said time and time again that if you bought a Volkswagen, translated from German as ‘People’s Car’, is actually the entry level German car. Yes, you get better material quality, the dashboard and controls are all nice but in reality the company will treat you as buying a bread and butter car. You are not buying actual designer products here. You are buying highstreet fashion here at the very most. 
What some of the insiders have told me is that the people over in VW (aside from being filled with corporate bureaucracy that is slow to react to change) is that they actually treat the car as basic or entry level. And with entry level this would mean entry level quality of servicing, parts and so on. You must tell yourself that YOU ARE NOT BUYING AN AUDI. You are buying the Proton of Germany. 
Like Proton, some of their products are indeed performance bargains (Golf GTI, CC, Scirocco) at the price offered and are very, very, very good to drive, but…. that is all fine and dandy IF they all work as they supposed to most of the time instead of checking in and out of the service center most of the time. Oh, and to rub it in even a defective Proton Preve is more reliable than a Golf TSI these days. Volkswagen seems to be worse that owning an Alfa Romeo. It’s like participating in an unlucky draw instead of a lucky draw with VW these days. 
Furthermore, note that VW Malaysia do not actually give 5 years of warranty. The last few years of their warranty is covered under an insurance company. If you suffer a warranty issue after the first two or three years, you send your ailing VW to the service center and you wait till they send over an insurance adjuster to decide whether the issue is covered under your warranty. I imagine an accident claims adjuster coming in and deciding whether a faulty part is faulty or otherwise. There is inexperience and there is the fact that the claim may take longer than usual because it relies on an external party. Yes, honestly, what the heck is this? 
Do you see Mercedes Benz doing that? Do you even see Honda Malaysia doing that? Both companies give 5 years MANUFACTURER WARRANTY. I do suggest you folks out there pay attention to warranty these days as cars nowadays are incredibly complex pieces of metal. Too complicated in fact. Do you know that any car made today may have more computing power and computers than the space shuttle? 
And as a conclusion, some VW owners in Malaysia are suffering. On two faults. One, because of really shitty service protocols and a don’t really care too much attitude and secondly, buying a highly priced Proton just because its German. If you went and bought a Proton Inspira 2.0P none of this shit would happen. It is as Malaysian as sushi underneath. 
Oh, by the way, the group intends to give a memorandum of demand to the MD of VW Malaysia next Thursday 13th March 2014 at around 12.00pm-1.00pm at the VW Malaysia HQ in Bangsar. I hope things happen after this. Good things. Nothing bad okay. 

Volkswagen Polo BlueGT – Economy and Power equals to some fascination on my part

Hello chaps. I am just too lazy to type this out in my own words so let’s just let VW say it for me.

“The new Polo BlueGT stands out in its ability to combine superior dynamic performance with extreme fuel-efficiency. The technical highlight of the progressive compact car is the cylinder deactivation system, which is being introduced for the first time in a Volkswagen – also known as active cylinder management or ACT. The system was realised with the new 1.4-litre TSI of the Polo BlueGT. The torque-strong TSI develops a power output of 103 kW / 140 PS, yet has a combined fuel consumption of just 4.7 l/100 km* (equivalent to 108 g/km* CO2). If the Polo BlueGT is ordered with the optional 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), fuel consumption drops further to 4.5 l/100 km* – and, bear in mind, this is a petrol, not a diesel (105 g/km* CO2). Nonetheless, this car, with a top speed of 210 km/h, accelerates to 100 km/h in just 7.9 seconds. This uncommon coexistence of efficiency and dynamic performance is enabled by the systematic interplay of ACT, downsizing (reduced engine displacement plus direct injection and charging) and BlueMotion Technology (Stop/Start system, battery regeneration). As such, the Polo BlueGT closes the gap between the Polo 1.2 TSI (77 kW / 105 PS) and the Polo GTI (132 kW / 180 PS). The new car will already on the market in July.”



If you took the trouble in reading the above, it basically means that this ‘Green’ Polo BlueGT has more power than the basic Polo 1.2TSI and less power than the Polo GTI. It however is more economical than the 1.2TSI which only makes a combined 5.3l/100km against the BlueGT’s 4.5l/100km.

Imagine if you decide to boost the turbocharged engine with one of those aftermarket tuning options (ABT, REVO, Superchips) when such an option is available the BlueGT may even get you the same horsepower as the Polo GTI. And it should still be pretty economical too.

The only problem with the Polo is that …it is a Polo. That slightly too narrow a chassis would basically mean a  slightly twitchy car and very high speeds. But then again, as if most of you VW Polo 1.2TSI owners out there actually get out of town and hit the B-roads anyways.

Another question would be whether I really care about saving so much fuel in the first place until I would end up buying one over say, a Ford Focus TDCi or a 140bhp Mazda 3 hatchback or that sort. If the VW Polo 1.2TSI costs about RM113K and the Polo GTI costs RM145K, it would mean that the BlueGT may cost RM130K or thereabouts IF VW Malaysia decides to bring it over here. Such a small car for so much money – As is the Polo GTI, which in my opinion would struggle for sales as it VW sells the same engine in the larger, albeit much softer Golf TSI.

Volkswagen Polo BlueGT – Economy and Power equals to some fascination on my part

Hello chaps. I am just too lazy to type this out in my own words so let’s just let VW say it for me.

“The new Polo BlueGT stands out in its ability to combine superior dynamic performance with extreme fuel-efficiency. The technical highlight of the progressive compact car is the cylinder deactivation system, which is being introduced for the first time in a Volkswagen – also known as active cylinder management or ACT. The system was realised with the new 1.4-litre TSI of the Polo BlueGT. The torque-strong TSI develops a power output of 103 kW / 140 PS, yet has a combined fuel consumption of just 4.7 l/100 km* (equivalent to 108 g/km* CO2). If the Polo BlueGT is ordered with the optional 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), fuel consumption drops further to 4.5 l/100 km* – and, bear in mind, this is a petrol, not a diesel (105 g/km* CO2). Nonetheless, this car, with a top speed of 210 km/h, accelerates to 100 km/h in just 7.9 seconds. This uncommon coexistence of efficiency and dynamic performance is enabled by the systematic interplay of ACT, downsizing (reduced engine displacement plus direct injection and charging) and BlueMotion Technology (Stop/Start system, battery regeneration). As such, the Polo BlueGT closes the gap between the Polo 1.2 TSI (77 kW / 105 PS) and the Polo GTI (132 kW / 180 PS). The new car will already on the market in July.”



If you took the trouble in reading the above, it basically means that this ‘Green’ Polo BlueGT has more power than the basic Polo 1.2TSI and less power than the Polo GTI. It however is more economical than the 1.2TSI which only makes a combined 5.3l/100km against the BlueGT’s 4.5l/100km.

Imagine if you decide to boost the turbocharged engine with one of those aftermarket tuning options (ABT, REVO, Superchips) when such an option is available the BlueGT may even get you the same horsepower as the Polo GTI. And it should still be pretty economical too.

The only problem with the Polo is that …it is a Polo. That slightly too narrow a chassis would basically mean a  slightly twitchy car and very high speeds. But then again, as if most of you VW Polo 1.2TSI owners out there actually get out of town and hit the B-roads anyways.

Another question would be whether I really care about saving so much fuel in the first place until I would end up buying one over say, a Ford Focus TDCi or a 140bhp Mazda 3 hatchback or that sort. If the VW Polo 1.2TSI costs about RM113K and the Polo GTI costs RM145K, it would mean that the BlueGT may cost RM130K or thereabouts IF VW Malaysia decides to bring it over here. Such a small car for so much money – As is the Polo GTI, which in my opinion would struggle for sales as it VW sells the same engine in the larger, albeit much softer Golf TSI.