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Volkswagen Polo GT TSI vs Polo GT TDI : Hot Hatch shootout

  • Nov 26, 2014
  • 5771 Views
 

[caption id="attachment_14834" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT Volkswagen Polo GT[/caption]

There can be no ignoring the fact that in recent years, India’s road network has improved vastly. In effect, today you can drive across a great part of the country on modern expressways that allow you to cover significant distances seamlessly.

And what we have here is the new GT range of Polo hot hatchbacks, which are perfectly capable of swallowing those long distance expressway kilometers in a very comfortable manner.

The GT badge, short for Grand Tourer (or Gran Turismo in Italian) has been associated with performance vehicles for a long time now. It has to be said that Volkswagen has done absolute justice to the GT badges with the powertrain that these cars come fitted with.

While we loved the previous iteration of these cars, Volkswagen has updated the Polo in India and the cars you see here are refreshed versions of the previous models. Both cars get styling changes, while the GT TDI gets a downsized 1.5 litre engine that develops the same power output as the previous 1.6 litre engine. The GT TSI retains the power train of the previous model.

 

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Exterior

Aside from being grand tourers, the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and GT TDI are also sleeper cars. Both these cars can easily be passed off as standard examples of the Polo hatchback to the undiscerning eye. But look a little closer and you will notice that there is no Polo badge on these cars. What you get instead are subtle GT badges on the grille and hatch. The TSI in addition to the ‘TSI’ badge on the hatch also gets ‘GT TSI’ stickering on the the C-Pillars. The TDI example gets a single TDI badge on the lower right side of the hatch. The GTs also get ‘GT’ branded metal door sill garnish and a slightly different set of alloys compared to the standard car.

This I believe is the perfect styling tweak for these hot hatchbacks, as it is in harmony with the Polo’s otherwise sleek and subtle design nature that gives it a very attractive and mature design.

Take a walk around these cars, and you notice the double barrel headlamps with black interior surrounds, the sleek twin slat grille underlined in chrome and sporting the prominent VW logo in the centre along with GT badges on the right. The front bumper is a curved unit that blends perfectly with the flared wheel archs, the unit has a large plastic lower section incorporating fog lamps on either side, a central air dam and a chrome strip running across it. The bonnet has a subtle power dome, completing the purposeful look of the car.

[caption id="attachment_14855" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT TDI Volkswagen Polo GT TDI[/caption]

The side profile of the Volkswagen Polo GTs looks rather sporty with the steeply raked windscreen, black window line with black ORVM casings and a black rear spoiler. This combined with the bold shoulder line, a recess in the lower section of the doors, wrap around lamps and mildly flared wheelarchs gives the Polo GTs a very unique and appealing stance.

[caption id="attachment_14860" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT TSI Volkswagen Polo GT TSI[/caption]

 

The rear profile of the GTs have a very balanced look, thanks to the well profiled size of the window, hatch with curved lower section, large tail lamps and the bumper that comes with plenty of visual breaks in the form of a large recess for the license plate, underlined by a ridge. Another ridge line right at the bottom incorporates reflectors at either end. The overall rear end design of the Polo again looks sporty, but in a very elegant manner in sync with its design language.

 

Volkswagen-Polo-gt-tsi-inte

Interior

Step inside and you are greeted by a dark cabin with all black plastics and seat upholstery with a light beige centre section. This is in sync with the car’s sporty nature and stays away from the standard Polo’s dual tone beige and black interiors.

Build quality, as always in a Volkswagen, is excellent in this segment with use of quality plastics, switchgear and leather upholstery on the steering wheel rim and gear lever. Volkswagen has updated the cabin of the new Polo with piano black finish on the steering wheel and centre console, along with brushed aluminum. This has really upped the ambiance inside the car, making it feel more premium than earlier.

[caption id="attachment_14868" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT TSI instrument binnacle Volkswagen Polo GT TSI instrument binnacle[/caption]

On the equipment front, both cars offer one touch power windows all around, electrically adjustable ORVMs, day/night interior rear view mirror, climate control, a double DIN stereo with CD, radio, AUX, USB, SD card and Bluetooth connectivity with steering mounted controls. The car also gets front and rear fog lamps, rear defogger and wash wipe, a 12 volt power outlet in the centre console, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, a driver information display system, lane change indicator, height adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopically adjustable steering wheel, new foot well lights, dead pedal, sporty looking aluminum pedals and the TDI gets a gear change indicator while the TSI gets an in-gear display.

[caption id="attachment_14862" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT seats Volkswagen Polo GT seats[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_14861" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT rear seat Volkswagen Polo GT rear seat[/caption]

The seats are supportive and offer the right amount of cushioning for a comfortable posture with good under thigh support and shoulder room for rear seat occupants. While there is a good amount of rear seat space, tall occupants will feel a little tight at the rear.

 

[caption id="attachment_14851" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT engines Volkswagen Polo GT engines[/caption]

Engine and Gearbox

GT TDI

Lets begin with the GT TDI as it is closest to the standard Polo, since it is powered by the same 1.5 litre four cylinder common rail turbo diesel engine. Except in the GT TDI, it gets a different spec turbo that allows it to generate more power - 105PS of power and 250Nm of torque to be precise. While this in itself is enough to give you an idea about this being a powerful car, you truly have to get behind the wheel of the Polo GT TDI to experience the driving pleasure that this car offers.

[caption id="attachment_14846" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT TDI engine Volkswagen Polo GT TDI engine[/caption]

Fire up the engine and you can instantly make out that this is a diesel engined car as there is a fair amount engine noise inside the cabin. Press the clutch pedal and you can feel an intense vibration from it as the engine operates. The pedal is a tad on the heavier side, but you can get used to it very easily and is nothing to complain about. Move the gear lever, and there is some amount vibration here as well. That said, the five-speed gearbox is an easy to use unit and slotting through the accurate unit is easy. That said, shift quality through the gates could be smoother.

From the moment the car rolls ahead you can make out that the powertrain is quite eager to get going. There is a slight turbo lag below 1,500 rpm, but if you are driving with a light foot its something that you will not even notice. Its only when you really want to get going that you will notice the lag. Keep the engine spinning above that mark and the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI feels powerful. And it would, with the healthy 250Nm of maximum torque kicking in at 1,500 rpm and extending up to 2,500 rpm, this car is in a league of its own as the G forces pin you back to your seat and sends the car forward briskly.

[caption id="attachment_14837" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT Volkswagen Polo GT[/caption]

The engine feels fairly rev happy for a diesel and is eager to rev past 4,000 rpm with peak power of 105PS being developed at 4,400 rpm. But once past, the mark, you can feel the motor getting strained and it's best to slot through the gears below the 4,500 rpm mark. While some of the brute force of the earlier 1.6 engine is gone, the GT TDI is still a hooligan of a car and will spin its wheels in second gear for fun. As the needle sweeps past the three digit mark on the speedo, the VW Polo GT TDI continues to offer purposeful acceleration all the way past the 160 km/h mark. Its only as it heads closer to the 180 km/h that the engine starts to feel strained, and requires a fairly long stretch for the GT TDI to go any faster.

The surge of acceleration is addictive and encourages you to enjoy the potential of the engine. This combined with the fact that it has an ARAI rated fuel efficiency figure of 19.91 km/l helps it return commendable real world efficiency for the performance it offers.

[caption id="attachment_14847" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT TSI engine Volkswagen Polo GT TSI engine[/caption]

GT TSI

Moving on to the Polo GT TSI makes a word of a difference. Powered by a modern 1.2 liter four-cylinder turbocharged direct injection petrol engine, the GT TSI right off the mark appears to be a very unique car in the hatchback segment this side of Rs. 20 lakh. And when you factor in the seven-speed double clutch automatic gearbox, it begins to look even more alluring.

Turn the key in the ignition and the engine growls mildly as it comes to life and then settles down into a quiet idling state. Slot the autobox into drive mode and ease off the brake pedal as the car gently rolls forward. Being an automatic, the Polo GT TSI is ofcourse very easy to drive and navigating through tight traffic is nothing short of a breeze, thanks also to good visibility out of the cabin.

As you accelerate, the seven-speed DSG gearbox executes absolutely seamless gear changes which you won’t even notice if you aren’t paying attention and driving with a light foot.

[caption id="attachment_14838" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT Volkswagen Polo GT[/caption]

This being a hot hatch, the real charm of the VW Polo GT TSI ofcourse begins to shine when you go heavier on the throttle. The engine lets out a nice racy roar as the needle in the rev counter shoots towards the 6,000 rpm redline. The 1.2 litre engine develops 105PS of max power @ 5,000 rpm and 175Nm of torque peak torque between a very usable 1,500 rpm and 4,100 rpm. The engine has an ARAI rated efficiency figure of 16.47 km/l, but going heavy on the throttle will result in below average efficiency in its segment.

Unlike the sudden acceleration that kicks in while accelerating in the GT TDI, the GT TSI has much more linear acceleration. The lower torque output of the GT TSI along with minimal turbo lag means that there is less sudden inertia pinning you to your seat. But this is in no way saying that the GT TSI feels slower, because it does not. If anything the GT TSI feels even more exciting, its petrol engine is more rev happy at the higher end of the rev range, this combined with the enticing engine note only takes the hot hatch experience to a whole other level.

[caption id="attachment_14836" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT rear tracking Volkswagen Polo GT rear tracking[/caption]

While gear changes are seamless, when going faster it’s best to engage Sport mode as it holds onto revs longer and makes the engine more responsive. And if you still want a more connected drive experience, there is the tiptronic mode that allows you to change gears manually using the gear lever. This was my perfect driving mode when away from traffic as it gave me the benefit of a manual gearbox, although I do wish gear changes were still a bit faster in this mode for absolute immediate power delivery when you need it.

Still, push the Volkswagen GT TSI as hard as you can and it is very happy to stretch its legs with the speedo needle climbing rapidly across the clock face. I also have to say that the GT TSI feels very lively at the top end with the 180 km/h mark breached easily and the engine willing for more.

The GT TSI is a proper hot hatch, there are no two ways about it.

 

[caption id="attachment_14844" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GTs cornering Volkswagen Polo GTs cornering[/caption]

Ride and Handling

Both the Polo GT TDI and GT TSI are underpinned by McPherson Strut front suspension, along with a stabiliser bar and semi-independent trailing arm rear suspension with coil springs all around. Both cars have a very supple ride with excellent cushioning and ride comfort in their segment. Suspension noise is also fairly muted and the cars iron out road imperfections well, something that gives them good credential as GT cars.

The difference in the two cars can be made out under spirited driving. Where the heavier diesel engine results in a front heavy nature and more body roll around bends in the GT TDI, the GT TSI feels better balanced, more taut and agile. That said, the new GT TDI feels much better balanced than the earlier 1.6 model and feels less front heavy even though it is 2 kg heavier than the previous car.

String together a couple of bends and the GT TSI with its better handling traits emerges to be a faster car, its electronic stability programme also playing part to keep wheel slippage in check.

[caption id="attachment_14842" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT cornering Volkswagen Polo GT cornering[/caption]

Thankfully, though when you are in the mood for some fun, you can turn the system off to get the car sideways. Doing this lets you know that the chassis of the Polo is a really sorted one with positive drive dynamics that allows you to push the car and be aware of what it is doing at all times. Although, as hot hatchbacks they could have done with stiffer suspension for lesser body roll and a more connected feel, but that would result for a jittery ride on our pothole specked roads.

As was the case with the earlier model, both the GT TDI and the GT TSI come with electronic power steering. The unit is light and convenient at parking speeds and weighs up well at higher speeds, but lacks enough feedback. While it is accurate and well balanced, some more communication between it and the front wheels would make these cars even more fun to drive.

[caption id="attachment_14843" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT rear cornering Volkswagen Polo GT rear cornering[/caption]

Both cars come with front disc brakes and rear drum brakes. The brakes provide good bite and bring these powerful cars to a halt without much drama. It’s also worth mentioning that the new GT TDI has more responsive brakes than the earlier 1.6 model. The threshold for the wheels to lock up is high, keeping ABS operation to a minimum.

 

[caption id="attachment_14835" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT side profile Volkswagen Polo GT side profile[/caption]

Safety

Both the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI and the GT TDI come with four star Global NCAP safety rating that makes them some of the safest cars in their segment. Both cars come with impact beams, crumple zones, anti-lock braking system, dual front airbags. But the GT TSI offers more in terms of its electronic stability programme and hill hold function, making it a safer car on the streets.

 

[caption id="attachment_14849" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT low angle Volkswagen Polo GT low angle[/caption]

Verdict

Both the Volkswagen Polo GT TDI and GT TSI are worthy of their GT badges in every sense of the term. They can cover ground rather rapidly and with their comfortable ride, dismiss road imperfections with ease.

As hot hatchbacks, they have absolutely no competition in the market and hence hold a niche for themselves. Their solid build quality, safe crash worthiness, safety features, attractive appearance inside out, decent equipment list, combined with premium appeal make them extremely desirable.

[caption id="attachment_14841" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Volkswagen Polo GT rear Volkswagen Polo GT rear[/caption]

Which one should you buy?

While both cars are priced identically at Rs. 8.18 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), due to their varied powertrain these hot hatchbacks cater to two different types of hot hatch enthusiasts.

If fuel efficiency is a concern, then the GT TDI makes more sense as it considerably more efficient than the petrol model, and this also means fewer visits to the pumps. Not to forget the more involving drive experience, thanks to its manual gearbox.

If the sinful pleasure of a cutting edge rev happy engine racing to the redline with super slick gear changes from the equally impressive seven-speed DSG autobox, along with more taut handling are things that tingle your senses more, the GT TSI is the one for you.

As for me, Turbo Stratified Injection it is!

 

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Photography by : Siddharth
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