By: Charles Molefe
Well, look at it this way, if you are looking for something that will keep you honest and mindful of your pocket, then you are reading the correct article.
It’s not often that I am impressed by minuscule engines with hairdryers, it’s not that exciting anymore. It’s a pattern/trend that has been played out so much, you expect the same configuration from different manufacturers repeated again and again.
The Volkswagen Polo TSI, however, is no ordinary played out car.
When you climb into a car, you expect the same old interior setup, standard gear knob design, steering wheel and instrument clusters across the manufacturers model range. However, the Polo is a different kettle of fish. Not executive – I wasn’t expecting a Rolls Royce – but it was indeed a fresh look with a setup I must admit, slowly grew on me.
With 380km’s of road ahead of us, this promised to be one of those road trips filled with fun, laughter and new friendships.
Bags packed, tires checked and tank filled, we headed for the border. We were taking a weekend trip to Botswana, for a wedding no less. As a country that is known for its vast lands and extremely hot temperatures all one could do is anticipate an exploratory drive and look forward to the excessive use of the air-conditioning.
The Polo TSI is somewhat of a marvel in South Africa, a benchmark of what other manufacturers should be striving to achieve. The interior is where this car really caught my attention, everything is where you need it to be: the satellite controls, climate control system, cup holders, USB and Aux facilities are all within reach. This makes you feel like you are cocooned in an impenetrable work of art.
One stand-out feature must be the brilliant audio system fitted to this car. Pair your Bluetooth device, press play and forget that your device is even there. With the Bluetooth connection, you have the standard telephony controls, a list of the most dialled contacts is also generated, allowing you easy scrolling to the most important contacts you want to get in touch with. The audio is far superior to the competition, namely the Kia Rio, and provides you with crystal clear, high-end quality audio.
The seats are average. I have been in cars that are more supportive of great mass, not that the polo fails, it surely does do well, but trying to compare it to an M5 is unfair and nonsensical. There is ample lumber support and you generally feel comfortable enough to drive more than you should.
One surprising feature is the fatigue monitoring system, after 200kms of continuous driving I was kindly advised by the Polo to take a break to rest. This is a nice feature to have since we as drivers often neglect that we may be drained from the driving.
One little snag of the interior is the deep and dark hole where you store your mobile devices and so forth, a little illumination could help make life a little easier when trying to find smaller items.
A very popular orangutan once said that a rental car is the world’s fastest car. Frankly, the TSI punches well above its weight, a 1.2 turbocharged engine should not be performing the way it does.
For a couple of seconds, the powerband is non-existent, then, suddenly, you get this wave of immense power shoving you back in your seat, asking you if you really want to do this. Unfortunately for the Polo it had a very enthusiastic driver behind the wheel who would stop at nothing but hammering the loud pedal.
This little car will scrabble the tarmac in the 1st and 2nd gears, 3rd is where things head for the illegal territory, jail-time to be exact. Overtaking is but a pleasure. It really doesn’t matter what gear you are in, stomp the loud pedal and wait for the dials to swing to the right and leave your opponent nothing more than a distant memory.
I can’t emphasise how good the engine in this car is. Think about this for a second: we travelled a total of 320km’s to a little town called Zeerust and upon filling up, all the Polo could take was a measly R200 of Mandela’s finest, which doesn’t make sense at all. With all the spirited driving that was taking place I expected to spend at least R400. It just goes to show how technology has advanced over the years, what feels like eons ago, 1.2L cars were cars that were classified for the economic individual who is looking to compromise performance for economy. The TSI is a gamechanger and I see no reason why I shouldn’t have this car in the garage.
It’s difficult to fault and one would really need to use a fine comb to find wrong with it. I for one could not find a thing, granted it was a short stint with the car but if you put things into perspective, when test driving a car you hardly get to spend an hour with it. We had three days and each day got better.
I will admit that I have never been a fan of the Volkswagen Polo in any way, shape or form mainly because it’s not a rare car, but when a car has outsold its competitors and delivers such a great experience, I see no reason why everybody shouldn’t own a Polo. There was never a moment where I had to beg for more power, comfort or even a bigger boot. Nothing – and I mean nothing – has impressed me as much as the Polo TSI and I will forever cherish it in my heart.