Travelling to college in the state-run rickety buses was beginning to become a tedious affair. Even though it was only twice a week (we stay in the college hostel), we were beginning to dread the weekly tryst with God’s-own-country’s KSRTC ordinary bus. Me bringing my Hyundai Getz all the way from Kollam to Trivandrum (a distance of around 60kms one way) was out of the question due to it being a petrol guzzler. I would require atleast Rs. 1500 worth of petrol to complete the round trip. To relieve us of our misery, my girlfriend’s father bought her a brand new Alto (800cc, pre-Alto800) in May 2012 which would help her brush up her driving skills and also serve as our ride to college. She wanted the Swift real bad but since she was not used to driving in India, the Alto was to be her beater car before she graduated onto a more expensive one. 6 months into owning it, the need for a better car got the better of her and she began pestering her dad for a new hatchback Cars considered (in the order the showrooms were visited):
1) Maruti Swift
2) Ford Figo
3) Volkswagen Polo
Only diesel cars were considered because of the low cost of diesel. Filling in diesel is less taxing on the wallet to us college folks (even though it is our dear parents' money) than filling in petrol. How we closed in on the Polo:
1) Maruti Swift
The new Swift was a hit with her the moment she sat in the driver’s seat. The beautiful centre console grabbed her attention like no other and she pestered her dad so much that he almost bought her one. The sales rep (Mr. Vipin) at Indus motors was accommodating and brought a TD vehicle promptly to her house. The TD was long and enjoyable and the rep answered all our queries. If we were settling on the Swift, we would be looking at the VDi which is considerably cheaper than the ZDi.
The only fly in the ointment was the waiting period and the fact that the ZDi variant cost almost Rs. 8.x lakhs OTR.
2) Ford Figo
This option was my choice. My girl’s main requirement was a good looking hatchback and the Figo is as good-looking as a frog. The reason I persuaded her to check it out was the fact that the fully-loaded Titanium version costs Rs. 6.x lakhs OTR and the fact that it is fun to drive (I would be doing majority of the driving after all). A visit to the showroom and the fact that Kairali Ford never seemed to have a Figo around for TD (I visited the showroom thrice) along with the fact that it was ugly pushed the Figo out of the run.
3) Volkswagen Polo
We had checked out the Polo at EVM motors after we went to check the Swift out. The good looks and build quality made the Polo the new No. 1 contender. Back then (October 2012), the Polo Comfortline (pre-refresh model) was quoted at Rs. 7.7 lakhs OTR before discounts and the Highline was around Rs. 8.6 lakhs OTR. We went back once again after I got to know about the refreshed Polo and the new pricing and features made the Comfortline seem VFM
compared to the Swift VDi. The Comfortline had almost all features of the Highline barring ABS
, airbags and alloys. It even came with a built in music system which, though basic, still sounds better than other OEM
stereos. The new Comfortline cost slightly less than Rs. 7.2 lakhs OTR. That was when my girl decided she wanted the Polo instead of the Swift. The tug on the purse strings:
Ex-Showroom – Rs. 654,164
Extended warranty – Rs. 8483
Insurance – Rs. 23490 + Rs. 6148 (for bumper-to-bumper)
Registration and handling charges – Rs. 6450
Road tax – Rs. 52440 Total OTR – Rs. 751,175
Insurance was done FOC by the showroom (they had the free-insurance offer going on then).
Net OTR – Rs. 721,537
What was paid after some slight haggling – Rs. 717,500 Delivery experience:
The decision, booking and buying was done in 7 days flat. We checked out the car on Day 1, booked it on Day 3 and it was delivered on Day 7. The sales executive, Mr. Shafeek, was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. 10/10 to him for customer service.
The delivery was done on the 15th of November, 2012 in a professional manner. All the features of the car were explained to us. Handing the key over to the owner was done in a professional way. They took a couple of pictures, one of which was immediately printed and framed and handed over. They also gave us a box of chocolates, a neat leather folder to keep all important documents, a Volkswagen keychain (not the Rs. 475 alloy one. A leather keychain with the VW insignia on it) and a basket of pot-pourri.
She was also christened "Princess" by my girl at the showroom itself Accessories:
1)Seat covers – Rs. 7475 ( Rs. 6520 + Rs. 955 labour charges)
2)Reverse sensor – Rs. 4000
3)Mats and mudflaps
4)Steering wheel cover – Rs. 300 (the steering feels so much better to hold with the steering cover on. I love chunky steering wheels) OWNERSHIP REPORT The Good:
The car looks beautiful. In the beginning, I did think it looked good but not overly so but now I think otherwise. It just looks so good in my driveway that my love for the Getz has reduced a bit (but she will always be my first love).
2) Driving experience
Love the handling, especially after having driven the Getz, Santro and Alto quite a bit. Love the way the steering responds to inputs (much better than my Getz). It is also a good highway car. Stable at speeds and gives a big car feel while driving.
It is perfect for city drives because it is extremely light. On the highway, in a straight line, it does weigh up but I think the hydraulic unit in my Getz is slightly more confidence inspiring. In the curves, it is in a different league altogether compared to the Getz. Overall, I rate the steering pretty high.
Loud and definitely commands respect. Sounds typically German which I totally love.
The stock headlights along with the fog lamps are pretty effective for me. I have 100/90 bulbs in my Getz and the stock lamps in the Polo are pretty much at par. I haven’t felt the need to upgrade yet.
For a stock system, it sounds pretty good compared to the system in the Marutis and Fords. Not audiophile quality but still good enough. A big negative though is the lack of aux-in/USB. It means that I will have to go back to burning MP3 CDs.
They look and feel premium. The red backlight on the centre console and the white lights in the speedo console look awesome at night.
8) Boot space
The boot is pretty big and spacious. I do miss a boot lamp though.
The front seats are good to sit on and the height adjust for the driver's seat is a useful feature.
I get 16-17 kmpl in heavy traffic in the city and 20-21 kmpl on the highway with a heavy foot and 23-25 kmpl with a light foot (tank-full to tank-full method). I’m pretty impressed considering the mileage I get with the Getz (City - 8-12 kmpl, highway - 13-15 kmpl).
11) Flippy keys
I’m a big fan of flippy keys and I love it. It does look and feel premium.
12) Power windows
The one touch auto-up and auto-down on ALL windows plus the anti-pinch feature is excellent.
It is a chiller. It gets so cold at times that I have to switch it off and my girl carries a blanket in the car to keep herself warm!!! Wish it came with climate control. That might have helped things a bit but I'm not complaining. The Bad:
1) Paint quality
The paint quality is poor compared to my Getz. It does get scratched quite easily and the thickness of the paint is much less than in my Getz.
2) Engine noise
It is nowhere near as refined as the Hyundais’ and the Multijet engine due to it being a 3-pot engine. The clatter at idle is very noticeable though it does reduce while on the move.
3) Door locking mechanism
The doors cannot be locked from inside. Even if we lock it using the lock button on the driver’s side door, the doors can be opened from inside (it cannot be opened from outside though). Also, absence of auto-lock when the car starts moving is a bad thing. I tried getting it activated from EVM motors, Trivandrum but they said they do it only for HL models (whereas in other states, they do it even for CL models)
I’ll be making a deal about it during my next visit to the A.S.S.
4) Ground clearance
It is pretty less compared to my Getz. The car does scrape speed-breakers when there are 4 people in the car though I have a strong feeling that it is the mudguard that is scraping and not the bottom.
5) I sometimes hit my right shin on the front dashboard when I get in. Small ergonomic flaw I guess. The Inbetween (a.k.a nit-pickings):
1) Build quality
Having been inside a friend's 2008 Skoda Fabia 1.4, the Polo and the new Fabia don't hold a candle against the old Fabia built-quality wise (Heck. Even the new Jetta and Laura doesn't have that built-like-a-tank feel that the old Fabia has). It is definitely better than the other cars in the similar price range though. Another grouse is that I’ve got a small squeak coming from the rear seat which I think is because they had to remove it to get the seat covers fitted and they dint tighten some bolt properly. Will get it checked when I take it for the 7500 km check-up.
2) Rear passenger space
It is less spacious than in my Getz but not as bad as in a Swift. Plus the huge transmission tunnel makes the 5th passenger feel slightly un-welcome.
The gearshifts in my Polo are a bit tight (not as smooth as the others seem to find it). But I think this is a one-off problem. The shift quality is good but the feel is not (the gear slots in well but it is tight nevertheless.) Again, will get it checked when I take it for the 7500 km check-up.
The turbo lag is horrible. But once past 2000 rpms, the car does pick up its skirt and run. I wish they bring down a 1.6 TDi with a 7-speed DSG sometime soon. That would be heaven even though it won't do well in the mass market. VW, are you listening? There are a few connoisseurs for such cars in India. VERDICT
A good car overall. For highway runs in Kerala, this car is more than adequate. I do hope that the 1.6 GTD and the 1.2 TSi are released soon though. Mods planned:
I did talk to Vivek from Tune-o-tronics. A very nice chap. He said they are working on a remap for the 1.2 TDi and that it should be out this month. But I’m a bit wary considering Germans are pretty unreliable compared to their Jap counterparts. Let’s see. Wish list:
1) Alloys (I love the different alloys that come with the Polo in the UK)
2) Projector headlamps with DRLs
3) Illuminated door sills (but I’m wary because they said they have to splice a wire for the illumination and I cannot afford to play with the warranty)
4) Blackened roof