“It’s an all-new vehicle, not a car that started life as a hatchback, and we just stuck a boot on the back of it”. I heard that statement at least three times during the recent VW media drive in Langkawi. I think it’s a good point actually, one worth repeating, hence my using it as the opening of this article. It was created to meet the growing need of first-time car buyers looking for something continental, upmarket, dependable, well-equipped and priced below RM100,000. Enter the VW Polo Sedan. While it bears the familiar / typical new VW front ‘face’ of the regular Polo hatch, this Sedan variant was developed as a stand-alone model.
It’s still very much a VW though despite the first one being sold under the magical RM100k mark so be assured of top-notch build quality, based on solid and sound foundations. The interior is impressively voluminous for a mid-size sedan, with more than ample room for five adults, even in the back. And yet in spite of the generous amount of legroom in the rear, the engineers have managed to make the luggage area in the boot absolutely huge. Its exterior dimensions belie the fact that once inside, the Polo sedan is a pretty big car.
Passengers will also have the benefit of comfort touches such as one-touch power windows on all four doors, height adjustable front seats, CD-MP3/WMA player mated to a 4-speaker system in the doors. There are also four airbags (two in front, two at the sides) crammed into that interior. Aesthetics wise, there are chrome inserts in the light switchgear, A/C vents, gear-knob, steering wheel and handbrake lever. The steering wheel is also leather wrapped for that more ‘hands-on’ feel of quality. The car also comes equipped with cruise control, steering mounted audio controls and (this is a great feature for our climate) remote controlled power windows. If the car has been parked out in the sun for a while, the windows can be lowered using the remote control, to let some of that hot air out. That’s a pretty neat trick for a car in this segment.
Housed under the bonnet is a fuel-injected, naturally-aspirated, 16-valve, 1.6-litre engine that produces 103bhp and 153Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic / tiptronic gearbox. It may not have the blistering pace as its “TSI” forced-induction / dual-clutch siblings, but still manages a top speed of 183kmh and a 0-100kmh time of 12.3sec. Instead of outright performance, owners will appreciate its frugality for sure, since the engine only burns about 6.5L/100km (combined cycle).
What owners will also greatly appreciate is the Polo sedan’s ride comfort and handling. During the media drive, we subjected the Polo sedan to all sorts of abuse, hard driving, charging around corners, rough surfaces, highways, B-roads, etc. In all those instances, the car seemed totally unfazed. At no time did things start to rattle or come apart at the seams and not once did the car protest in a way that would cause us any concern. It seemed to just lap up the maltreatment it was being subjected to. Light dawned on Marblehead only when we realised that these cars were made in India, and having driven on some roads over there, I know for a fact that a car needs to be built tough-as-nails in order to stop it from becoming scrap metal within a year. It may sound derogatory but it’s not; you just know that cars made for roads over there are going to be able to handle all sorts of ‘violence’, easily. Why do you think TATA trucks simply refuse to die? Those trucks are going to simply go on forever, it’s like the Nissan Sunny of the truck world.
While it may not have a fancy dual-clutch gearbox, the one in the Polo sedan actually does a very good job swapping cogs without a hint of hesitation or shift-shock, and toggling manually through the gears via the gearshift knob is actually quite fun. Shifts are instantaneous and with six speed s to play with, spirited driving on some twisty B-road is a hoot. It was not meant to be really, this car is a ‘safe’ family sedan for want of a better expression, and I reckon it’s just a by-product of sound engineering.
I learned recently that in 1982, that ‘noother’ car I wrote about here was worth more than my house; a new GTV6 2.5 cost RM66,000, big money back in the early 80’s, and that’s putting it mildly. This Polo sedan costs less than RM100k, and in this day and age there’s little one can get by way of a house in that range, but what you can get is a very decent first car. It’s a lot more than a mere alternative to everything else out there in this segment and price range actually; it’s a bona-fide contender. Anyone looking for a first or even second car should seriously consider the Polo sedan, it’s good on gas, cheap on road tax, feels great to drive and being a VW you just know it’s very well put-together. The fact that it costs less than RM100k is just a bonus.
Engine In-line 4-cyl, MPI, DOHC, 16v, 1598cc
Transmission 6-speed tiptronic
Max power 103bhp @ 5250rpm
Max torque 153Nm @ 3800rpm
Acceleration 0-100kmh: 12.3sec
Top speed 183kmh
Safety ABS, EBD, 4 airbags
+ Spec level, ride & handling, comfort
- Still a bit pricey for 1st time car buyers