Volkswagen Cross Polo : Road Test

  • Feb 18, 2014

The Volkswagen Cross Polo has mostly been considered to be Cross about being a Polo because of being a spruced up version of the regular car with some plastic cladding. But we feel there is a different angle to the Cross Polo, an angle that throws some light about the market for the Cross Polo, as you shall find out later in this review.


The Volkswagen Cross Polo has a nice profile that sets it apart from the regular Polo which in itself is a very good looking car. I myself prefer the sleek looks of the standard Polo, but a number of people in the Gaadi office and outside feel that the Cross Polo has a rather sporty appeal. As you can understand, the Cross Polo has its fair share of a vote bank, atleast on the visual front.

With its plastic clad bumpers featuring silver inserts at the centre, the Cross Polo does have a rugged appeal to it that is further accentuated by the black plastic clad wheel arches, rocker panel and the lower section of the doors. Volkswagen has also given the Cross Polo silver coloured two-tone ORVMs, a new single slat front grille, round fog lamps and roof rails that further aid practicality by allowing you to attach a roof box, cycle rack or surf board rack. So, if you are a bit of an adventurer and fancy the VW Polo, the Cross Polo ought to give you that bit of extra practicality. Completing the exterior makeover, the car gets‘Cross Polo’stickers on the lower section of the rear doors.


There is a crucial difference though with the interiors of the Cross Polo in relation to the standard Volkswagen Polo. VW has done away with the dual tone interiors of the car and the Cross Polo gets all black interiors that means better durability and less of a premium appeal. I say better durability because the hard plastics (especially on the section of the door pads that were once beige) will not stain and can be cleaned easily in the great outdoors.
The lower section of the dashboard is also all black unlike that of the standard Polo. Quality of plastics are good and build quality is top notch as always in a Volkswagen.And since the interiors are all black, the only visual breaks are the bits of chrome on the air vents and switch gear. The seats are trimmed in quality fabrics and add to the upmarket ambiance of the cabin.


The Cross Polo is essentially the Highline trim of the Polo. On the equipment front the Cross Polo comes fitted with a driver information system, climate control, a dual din stereo with USB, SD card, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity, complete with steering mounted controls. The car also gets one touch power windows all around, front and rear fog lamps, rear wash wipe and defogger, remote central locking, a parcel shelf, leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and hand brake lever.


Engine and Gearbox

The Volkswagen Cross Polo is powered by the standard Polo diesel’s three cylinder 1.2 litre turbocharged oil burner that develops 75PS of power and 180Nm of torque. Setting off from standstill, the Cross Polo is feels fairly slow, its only when you touch the 2,000 rpm mark with peak torque kicking in does the hatchback roll ahead with adequate power.
If you are looking for a fast diesel hatchback, this is not the car for you. What the Cross Polo is, is a nice car to drive with moderate power. While there is a lot of diesel clatter inside the cabin (more so under 2,000 rpm), the engine note gets better at higher revs. As you head towards the rev line power continues to come in a linear manner up to 4,500 rpm when the motor starts feeling strained.

The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that is accurate but gearshifts should have been made smoother with some more insulation. The engine and gearbox combination gives the car a very narrow powerband that constantly requires you to shift gears to stay on the power and above 2,000 rpm while accelerating through the gears. The driver information display comes with a gear indicator that lets you know the gear you need to be in, as the engine has very low vibration and harshness which sometimes does not allow you to feel the vibrations of driving in a higher gear at low speeds. So long as you are in the right gear, the Volkswagen Cross Polo has adequate power for linear acceleration up to 160 km/h post which the car requires a little more distance to pick up further speed.

The Cross Polo’s powertrain was never a performance oriented one and I sensed this every time I put my foot down as the car takes its time to respond and acceleration is always linear. The nature of the powertrain is reflected in the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 22 km to the litre for the Cross Polo.

Suspension and Brakes

The Cross Polo comes with McPherson Strut front suspension with stabiliser bar and with semi-independent trailing arm at the rear. While the suspension deals with broken roads very well and remains unsettled by sharp bumps even at higher speeds. There is some amount of horizontal movement that the suspension generates while going fast over broken roads.
Overall though, the ride of the Cross Polo is comfortable and the car irons out minor undulations and potholes without a bother. And when you do run over a sharp pothole the suspension simply dismisses it with a light thud, courtesy its typically solid German build quality.

The steering does not have very good feedback but you get an idea of whats going on and its easy to steer the car out of fast bends without a sweaty brow. High speed stability in the Cross Polo is extremely good with the vehicle tracking straight and true at 175 km/h. The steering does not become overly heavy at high speeds and the 185/60 R15 section tyres combined with the well balance chassis provide adequate traction around bends at fast speeds.

The Cross Polo’s disc brakes upfront and drums at the rear provide effective bite and along with the anti-lock braking system bring the car to a halt in a stable manner.

Now, the Volkswagen Cross Polo has an identical ground clearance of 165mm as that of the standard Polo and its low placed oil sump is still in harms way over uneven surfaces. That said, the Cross Polo’s plastic cladding allows for some light off-roading. Driving fast over dirt roads always results in pebbles and small stones being thrown back by the tyres and hitting the car, the plastic cladding comes into play here and takes the beating instead. And just in case, during some light off-road driving the car makes body contact with the planet, the cladding protects the body work from expensive damage repair.


Volkswagen has armed the Cross Polo with safety features such as dual front airbags, ABS, crumple zones, side impact beams, pinch guard for all four windows, seatbelts for all five passengers, rear parking sensors and an engine immobilizer with floating code.


The Volkswagen Cross Polo then is more suited for poor road conditions and better suited to some mild off-roading compared to the regular Polo. It also offers more practicality with those roof rails and has a unique stance that sets it apart from the standard Polo. Its the aforementioned factors that are out to justify the higher price tag of the Cross Polo, but at Rs. 7.75 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) the car is around Rs 53,000 above the diesel 1.2 Polo Highline, which is a bit steep.

It all boils down to a personal choice then. We recommend that if you are looking to drive around in the urban environs, go for the standard Polo. If you are a bit on the adventurous side or live away from the crowded parts of India and encounter bad roads with some light off-roading on the way to work, go for the Cross Polo as it will offer some peace of mind over poor roads with the cladding.

Volkswagen Cross Polo : Video Review


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