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Volkswagen Polo GT TSI vs Polo GT TDI

Alan D'Cruz  /
21 Nov 2013 23:15:56 IST

We thrashed these two beauties around the streets of Mumbai to see which we liked moreWe thrashed these two beauties around the streets of Mumbai to see which we liked more

When you chance upon a set of hot twins you know there's some fun to be had around the corner, but the experience is also bittersweet because you know that your are going to be forced to choose one over the other in the end. I mean there's not enough space in any garage for both. The twins in question are the two red Polos - the GT TSI and Polo GT TDI - you see here. Yes, that's right. With the launch of the GT TDI, Volkswagen has now given us not just one but two hot hatches to choose from. They both make an identical 105PS and promise a good turn of speed, while the familiar spirited handling of the Polo family is retained as there have been no changes to the underpinnings of both cars. We took both cars out on the streets of Mumbai to see which one could get a bigger shot of adrenalin flowing through our blood streams.

Which one will get a bigger shot of adrenalin flowing through our blood streams?Which one will get a bigger shot of adrenalin flowing through our blood streams?

Look and feel

Both cars look identical to their three-cylinder siblings with only the GT badging on the front grille and boot giving away what lurks under their hoods. The Polo GT TSI has a further set of GT TSI badges on both C-pillars that are missing on the TDI. This inconspicuous nature makes these twins a perfect set of 'sleepers' and it's great that Volkswagen hasn't gone overboard with a silly stickering job or loud colours. But we still feel that something like a sporty set of alloys or the SR body kit wouldn't have hurt their looks and only helped in the appeal department. At the moment, they are only as visually appealing as their slower siblings.

The Interiors are identical save for the shift leversThe Interiors are identical save for the shift levers

On the inside too little has changed with both cars receiving the same kit as the Polo Highline trim. So, they both get a leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever. Volkswagen have also resisted the urge to equip the cars with leather seats and both cars feature Titanschwartz fabric upholstery. The two-tone fabric is comfortable and so longer stints behind the wheel shouldn't be a problem. When you're sitting in the driver seat with the cars still switched off, only two features differentiate the TSI from the TDI. The first is the gear levers - the TDI's manual gear knob contrasts with the automatic shift unit in the TSI. The second is the ESP (electronic stabilisation program) buttonon the central console, a feature that is only present in the petrol.

The Interiors are identical save for the shift leversThe Interiors are identical save for the shift levers

On paper and on the road

The Polo GT TSI is powered by a 1.2-litre turbo petrol that makes 105PS and 175Nm of torque. The Polo GT TDI on the other hand features a 1.6-litre turbo diesel making an identical 105PS, but it's the stronger puller with 250Nm of torque. Aside from the healthy dose of torque in the diesel's favour, the other differentiating factor is the gearbox. The TSI gets a sweet shifting, 7-speed dual clutch automatic unit compared to the 5-speed manual in the TDI. The manual box is also not as slick as we'd like and it takes more effort than should be necessary to shift through the ratios.

Subtle exterior bagding distinguish the GT twins from the rest of the Polo familySubtle exterior bagding distinguish the GT twins from the rest of the Polo family

It's when you start up the two cars that you can really tell which one is the oil burner, and as expected there is more engine drone inside the TDI's cabin. While both engines are powerful, once on the move, it's the better refinement of the TSI engine that you tend to gravitate towards. The TDI engine is quite raw and has lots of grunt, and though it does rev cleanly to and past it's redline, it is accompanied with a lot of vibration and cabin noise.

Subtle exterior bagding distinguish the GT twins from the rest of the Polo familySubtle exterior bagding distinguish the GT twins from the rest of the Polo family

We drove them through the light afternoon traffic, weaving between taxis and slower cars and then headed out to the open highway where some more spirited driving was possible. When it comes down to how they perform, these two siblings differ from the crowd and both the diesel and the petrol post quick and near identical sprint figures. In fact, by a fraction of a second it's the torquier TDI that's quicker to the ton, reaching there in 10.2s compared to the 10.4s of the petrol. This is down not just to the better torque of the diesel but also because the TSI engine electronics doesn't let one launch the car from above 2000rpm from a standstill. The petrol feels lighter to steer though, and changes direction better while the diesel thrills you with a big shove of torque every time you step on the throttle anywhere upwards of 1800rpm. But it's the automatic gearbox that makes the petrol the easier one to drive - both when the going is fast and also when you're trudging back to office through a traffic jam.

While both engines are powerful, once on the move, it's the better refinement of the TSI engine that you tend to gravitate towardsWhile both engines are powerful, once on the move, it's the better refinement of the TSI engine that you tend to gravitate towards

Only the TSI comes equipped with ESP adding an additional safety net but at this grip to power ratio, it would only be really called upon over wet roads or gravel. The diesel does have its own unique asset too - mileage. It's quite efficient when the going is steady, returning a very respectable 18.2kmpl in the city and 25.1kmpl on the highway. Quite the party trick when it has performance on its side as well. In comparison, the TSI's figures are 15.2kmpl in the city and 19.3kmpl on the highway.

Making a choice between these two sure was hardMaking a choice between these two sure was hard

Decision time

The diesel is easily the twin you'd want to take home to your parents, so to speak. It's marginally faster and will definitely appeal to your sensibilities with its great mileage and performance. It's also just Rs 9,000 dearer than the petrol, an amount quickly recovered with the cheaper running costs of diesel. But if you're looking for a car that is kind on your pocket, then there are a number of choices out there to spend the Rs 8.08 lakh (ex-Mumbai) you'll end up paying for the diesel. The petrol with its better refined engine and great DSG gearbox is much easier to drive and just as fast. The seven ratios make it easier to exploit all 105 horses most of the time and when brake lights start to turn the road home into a sea of red, you just need to crank up the stereo and let the gearbox take all the stress. For us, a hot hatch has to make us feel good and offer the better driving experience, and by the slightest of margins, it's the Polo GT TSI we'd pick out of these near identical twins. Meet the parents? Hell no, I'm taking this one out for another spin.

By the slightest of margins, it's the Polo GT TSI we'd pickBy the slightest of margins, it's the Polo GT TSI we'd pick

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