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2013 Volkswagen Polo GT TDI India first drive

Alan D'Cruz  /
30 Sep 2013 15:26:49 IST

When Volkswagen launched the Polo GT TSI earlier this year we were all raring to get behind the wheel. Of course Bert pulled rank on all of us and went for the launch drive in Goa coming back very impressed. Today it's in our long term fleet and its keys are much sought after. It certainly has the credentials that may one day make it something of an Indian legend. With 105PS on tap, a turbocharged engine and 7-speed DSG gearbox, it was our first honest hot hatch! With launch of the Polo GT TDI, Volkswagen hope to shift some of the diesel buying public over to the fun side of automobiles. So, we headed to the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) to find if the Polo GT TDI can be as much fun as the TSI.

IMG_1829After driving the Race Polo TDI, the road-going version felt just as powerful and more forgiving on the flowing curves of the BIC

IMG_2014Polo GT TDI is quick, reaching an indicated 160kmph (having just selected 5th gear) at the end of the kilometre-long back straight at BIC

So can an oil burner match the excitement and performance of the petrol? Well it is certainly possible. The Race Polo TDI demonstrated that a small powerful diesel engine could make for a fun and exciting race car in the Polo Cup race series. It seems promising on paper too " 105PS and 250Nm of torque generated from as low as 1500rpm.

But will these numbers translate to excitement and performance? We couldn't have asked for a better place to find the answer to that question, and the GT TDI certainly didn't disappoint. After driving the Race Polo TDI, the road-going version felt just as powerful and more forgiving on the flowing curves of the BIC. And while it certainly can't compare to the race-tuned and setup chassis of the race car, it did handle the quick direction changes of the two chicanes on the circuit well for a car with street-tuned suspension. The feedback from the electronic power steering was fairly good and similar to what we'd expect from the Polo family. We'll have to wait for a proper road test to tell you just how it fares in the real world as the smooth, flat surface of the Indian track are no comparison to our roads.

IMG_2003The steering feedback from the electronic power steering was fairly good and similar to what we'd expect from the Polo family

IMG_2026With the 1.6-litre TDI engine, the first thing that hits you is the smooth flow of torque. It comes quite early and in a linear fashion

With the 1.6-litre TDI engine, the first thing that hits you is the smooth flow of torque. It comes in quite early and in a linear fashion. It's also an engine that is happy to be revved and though max torque is made between 1500-2500rpm, the engine still pulls all the way up to about 4500rpm before it starts to complain. It's quick too, hitting an indicated 160kmph (having just selected 5th gear) at the end of the kilometre long back straight. In comparison, the Race Polo TDIs (with an extra 25PS to play with) were hitting an indicated 175kmph at the same point. Not too bad for a road-going hatch indeed.

So, is it as much fun as the TSI?

It certainly was great fun out on the track with good performance and handling to boot and it could be the ideal choice for those looking for a performance hatch with an 'old school' manual gearbox. Economy is a decent ARAI certified 19.78kmpl so it should also be cheaper to run than the petrol TSI. So the answer to the question is a definite maybe (till a proper road test can be done) for now.

The real question is will you buy one? At Rs. 8.08 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi) it's just Rs9,000 more than the TSI but misses out on a DSG gearbox, ESP and our gripe with the TSI still persists - aside from the GT badging it doesn't look any different from any other Polo.

IMG_2040The TDI is just Rs9,000 more than the TSI, but misses out on a DSG gearbox and ESP

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