Volkswagen Polo GT TDI : Road Test

  • Dec 20, 2013


The Volkswagen Polo has always been a very pretty car with its sleek and subtle design cues, well profiled looks and commendable fit and finish. Over the years Volkswagen has updated the car with more equipment to bring it on par with its rivals. But one department where the Polo always fell short was under the hood. Its 1.2 litre three cylinder engines, in this context the diesel engine, offers limited performance. Volkswagen has attended to this matter by introducing a Polo badged as the ‘GT TDI’ that packs in the 1.6 litre diesel engine from its sedan counterpart, the Vento.



On the design front, the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI remains identical to its smaller engined siblings apart from the GT badge on the front grille and at the back the Volkswagen badge on the hatch has been replaced by a GT badge while the Polo badge has been removed from the right side of the hatch and replaced with a larger TDI badge. The car also gets GT branded door sills. The Polo GT TDI gets 15 inch 10 spoke alloy wheels  and the headlights get black borders on the top.

With its sleek chrome lined double slat grille that has the VW logo placed prominently at the center, headlights that get a black lining on top, wide air dam in the front bumper that house fog lamps at either end, a nice angular finish at the bottom of the front bumper, nicely raked windscreen, dual tone ORVMs and a restrained power dome on the bonnet, the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI has a very appealing stance when viewed head on.



From the side, the Polo GT TDI’s headlights and fog lamps are designed to appear to be stretching over to the side, the window line has been blacked out with black B-Pillars as well, the mildly flared wheel arches lend a sporty appeal, there a kink at the bottom of the doors is present to lend a visual break,  the roofline is slightly backward sloping and ends with a nice sleek rear spoiler, the rear windscreen has been angled to stretch out towards the mid section of the hatch while the tail lights stretch onto the sides. Completing the look are the 10 spoke Estrada alloy wheels.



At the back, the Polo’s hatch has recesses to accommodate the inside of the tail lights and houses the VW badge in the center. The tail lights themselves are nice to look at with the three layer design that houses the stop lamps at the top, a big center section that thankfully does not have any multi reflector business going on, the left lamp houses the indicator and reverse light bulbs while the right one has a rear fog lamp instead of the reverse light. The rear bumper has a tall design that houses the license plate at the center while the bottom section is designed to protrude out and break the monotony of the other wise plain surface.



Inside, the Polo GT TDI features the same interiors as the top-of-the-line Highline trim of the Polo with the Titanschwarz fabric upholstery for the seats that lend an upmarket feel and compliment the superb build quality and fit and finish of the passenger cabin. The front bucket seats are supportive, the cushioning is just right and provide good under thigh support. The driver’s seat ofcourse has height adjust as well. The rear seats too are comfortable and provide good under thigh support while cushioning for the seats are identical to that of the front units.


The quality of plastics is top notch for its segment while the grade of leather used to wrap steering wheel, gear knob, handbrake lever and door handles is also commendable. Even the chrome lined air vents feel expensive and air flow for each vent can be regulated via an adjacent rotary control.


The door pads get beige fabric inserts, leather wrapped handle and black fabric for the arm rests which I can’t help but wonder for how long would remain in good condition with elbows constantly rubbing against them. The car also gets aluminium pedals to lend a sporty appeal.

In terms of equipment the car gets one touch up/down power windows all around, electrically adjustable ORVMs, climate control, rear defogger and wash wipe, four speakers and a double din stereo with USB, SD card, Bluetooth and AUX connectivity with steering mounted controls for phone calls, volume controls for the stereo and changing tracks. The sound quality from the stereo with four speakers is good.


Engine and Gearbox

The heart of the matter here for the VW Polo GT TDI is its four cylinder 1.6 litre diesel engine develops 105PS of power @ 4,000 rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. The engine is smooth and while engine noise is well insulated inside the cabin the unmistakable diesel clatter is always present right from the moment you fire up the engine. As the revs rise the engine note gets better with a nice growl as you head towards the redline.

The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that is nice to use with its short throw and slotting through the gears is easy, however, shift quality could have been bettered to make gear shifts smoother. The clutch is light and although it has a long travel, the wide torque curve means you don’t have to change gears very often in traffic.


As you roll off from a standing start initial acceleration is good and you won’t notice the turbo lag while driving in traffic as the engine delivers enough power under moderate acceleration even without the turbo charger kicking in. Its only when you push the accelerator pedal harder that turbo lag is evident under 1,500 rpm. Once the turbo comes on song and peak torque delivery kicking in at 1,500 rpm the Polo GT TDI surges ahead with serious grunt. And its broad torque curve means power keeps coming in strong up to 5,000 rpm post which the power tails off.



The engine is rev happy for a diesel and with 105PS of power on tap at 4,000 rpm the Polo GT TDI picks up speed very quickly with a 0-100 km/h time of 10.51 seconds and the car maintains its poise at faster speeds with the power coming in strong even at 160 km/h.  In fact, so eager is the engine that at certain speeds if you slot it into gear and stay away from the throttle the speedometer starts climbing on its own!


As you can now understand acceleration in the Polo GT TDI is brisk and it makes overtaking a breeze. Darting through traffic is a joyful experience with the Polo’s compact dimensions and powerful engine making it a fast car indeed. By being 64 kg lighter than the Vento diesel the Polo GT TDI.

The Polo GT TDI has a claimed fuel efficiency of 19.7 km/pl.


Ride and handling

The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI has an identical chassis and suspension setup as other Polos and has the same sorted road manners with its well balanced chassis. The suspension setup is on the softer side but I would say it’s a perfect setup for our roads as the Polo absorbs bumps and potholes while being unsettled by them even at higher speeds. Pushing the Polo GT TDI around corners causes the car to lean a fair bit due to the soft suspension setup but it’s nothing you can’t handle as the chassis allows you to push the car to its limits. That said, you are constantly aware of the weight of the heavy engine upfront. The wide 185/60 R15 tyres provide good traction at all times.


Road noise is contained and its only the larger bumps that make the suspension noisy. That being said, over patchy sections of tarmac tyre noise does become evident and to my dislike I found the pedals transmitting those vibrations to my feet. Another fact worth mentioning is that the clutch transmits a fair amount of vibrations from the powertrain under partial operation.

The electronic power steering is accurate but is devoid of any real feel and does not weigh up in a consistent manner.



My biggest concern about the Polo GT TDI is about the brakes. They are the same units that do duty in all models of the Polo. But in the GT TDI they don’t have enough bite to deal with all the power and torque that the 1.6 litre common rail diesel engine makes. At faster speeds, you really have to stomp the pedal to bring the car to a halt. The anti-lock brakes work well and the system is not unnecessarily obtrusive.



The Polo GT TDI comes loaded with front airbags, front and rear fog lamps, seatbelts for all five passengers, rear parking sensors, ABS and pinch guard for all four windows. The car also gets crumple zones. Although, I do wish the headlights provided better visibility.



The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is a seriously fast car and is the fastest hot hatchback in its segment. Priced at Rs 8.12 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) the VW Polo GT TDI is bordering on the expensive side, but with the performance it offers combined with great build quality, top notch interior trim and attractive exterior design it is worth its asking price.

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