As a long time car enthusiast, the search for better, safer, more exciting products never ceases.And so in this case, I felt the need to upgrade from my Nissan Micra CVT, a safe city commuter, that was economical to operate(inspite of being an automatic), but never really had any other pretensions.
The search process took me through various options (petrol only), and I also included the option of switching to a manual car, if it was worth it. The search is documented in the following link- Upgrade From Micra CVT?
Finally, it boiled down to the Baleno RS, Ignis Alpha,the Figo DCT and the Polo GT TSI. I simply couldnt bring myself to try out the Abarth Punto, exciting as it is, because they did not have any cars available that were made in 2016/17. Spending 11 lac on a car lying in the factory yard for over a year was not a good option!
In the ultimate analysis, the Figo DCT was eliminated because of its rather confusing road performance. It simply couldnt find the right gear in the city roads (in my view) and seemed to be constantly fiddling about, especially in the 50-70 kph zone.
The Baleno RS didnt feel terribly exciting for a 10.3 lac price tag, especially over the Ignis Alpha/Baleno Alpha. And in the end, I decided to stick to the original plan of upgrading and automatic with an automatic only, and hence Polo GT TSI remained the default choice. It ticked almost all the build and performance boxes, and contrary to my previous apprehension, was not too bad in terms of cabin space for 4 adults (especially parents at the back). It was the first car I had tested in the buying process, and ultimately became the final choice. Dealership Experience:
I had test driven the Polo GT TSI at both the VW dealers in Pune, and chose to do business with B.U Bhandari VW. The other dealer did not even follow up. OTOH,BU Bhandari, Nexa and Ford (especially) followed up very well and were really keen to get business.
The overall sales and delivery experience was very professional, while not overtly pampering (I like it that way). The only freebie given was the basic accessories and the bumper-to-bumper insurance addition over the regular insurance. The car cost 10.5 lac on road, Pune. I did not opt for any significant accessory other than the bumper/door scratch guards, although now I feel that the driver arm-rest would be a really nice addition.
I didnt have much of a thought about colors, since there are only 3 for this variant anyway.This choice was left to the family and we chose the carbon-steel grey color, which was in stock. Delivery:
With the updated registration process at Pune, the vehicle registration took just 1 business day. On the chosen day of delivery, everything was arranged perfectly, almost in clock-work fashion.All we had to do was to unwrap the car (they put the garland as well in advance!) , perform a small puja and drive off, after the handover of documents, some small goodies like chocolates etc and explanation of features, most of which I was familiar with after mutiple test drives. Driving Experience So Far:
2017 Polo GT TSI- The most significant change of this years model (thus far) is that the car runs on 195/55 R16 size tyres. This is bigger than the earlier 185/60/R15 and increases the ground clearance slightly as well.So the ride quality feels a little 'heavier' and grippier on the road. This is also accentuated by the steering, which feels a tad heavy (or is it because its still new, I dont know). In fact, when kept in its default telescopic state (pushed forward), it feels almost like a hydraulic power steering!. When I adjusted it to pull it towards the chest recently, it felt a bit lighter. Heavy steering is good, in my opinion, because it complements the power and dynamics of this car. In comparision the test drive car (2015 model) felt much lighter.
City Driving-In medium to heavy traffic, the DSG gearbox traverses from D1 to D4 and back, without a fuss. I usually keep the car in N during long traffic stops and try to wait for a significant gap before accelerating from standstill. The ride quality on flat roads is excellent, and it also tackles the speedbreakers and broken patches in a firm manner, without jarring the occupants.
Office Commute:Like many Pune-ITians, my workplace is in Hinjewadi, and there are a couple of semi-urban/rural approaches to that place, apart from the horribly congested highway bypass/Hinjewadi Main Road route. So on these alternate routes, the car gets a chance to stretch its legs a bit, and the engine shows its potential, especially while making quick overtaking manuevers. Here I must mention that the S-mode feels incredibly powerful, and sometimes un-necessary. Most single lane overtakes can be managed in the D-mode if there isnt much oncoming traffic. So far I have used both the S-mode and manual gearshift very sparingly, since its still in the run-in phase.
Highway-Run: I managed to do a small highway excursion on the old Pune-Mumbai highway up to Kamshet, just to get the feel of the car, and here's where the car and its TSI engine really show off their capabilities. The ride quality at speeds of 70-100kph is truly European-quality, heavy yet supple, and the handling is quite precise. I have owned the Linea T-Jet before and the Polo is up there with the Linea on ride and handling front, atleast in the speed regime I have driven it (upto 100kph). I doubt if this will be different at higher speeds too. The Duster which I also own currently, feels less precise on the steering wheel at high speeds.
The braking , so far, has been quite good, although not exceptional (like an all-disc Linea T-Jet). The addition of ESP/TC is also welcome, and gives an added comfort in the mind of the driver.
The airconditioning is good, and seems to be coping with the 38-40 deg weather in Pune so far. In terms of other features, the car has the touchscreen Audio/telephony system, which is par for the course. The BT connectivity works seamlessly. The MirrorLink feature is limited to very few phone makes, so its useless for me as of current.
The car has shown an average of 11-12 kmpl on the MID in the dense city traffic, and around 15 kmpl on the open roads during office commute. Its early days, but seems to be good so far. In any case, this was not the main criteria for purchasing a car like GT TSI.
This is the story so far folks! Will share more pics as the driving experience goes along ! Fellow GT owners are welcome to share their thoughts and tips. Quick Update
: Took the GT TSI for a drive on the Mumbai Pune Expressway till Lonavala. This was on my mind for a long time, just to gauge the highway capabilities of the car.
I have to say I am quite impressed with the high speed performance. The car was ticking at a lazy 2000 rpm at 100kph. The slightest dab of the throttle took it to 115-120 kph easily, and I had to be careful not to indulge too much. Furthermore, the car was rock steady, glued like a leech. I wonder if the 16in tyres are aiding this cause even better than before, not to mention that the steering also felt quite stiff, and not at all light, as has been experienced in the pre-2017 models. I believe that an official review update of this car is in order , purely to describe the improved dynamics.
The icing on the cake was the indicated fuel efficiency for the trip, showing 18 kmpl. It might have shown a higher number had I stayed at 80-90kph throughout.