In this day and age when most automobile companies in India are coming out with low-priced offerings of their existing models to attract more customers—the Indian car market is still going through a sharp slowdown—Volkswagen is taking a slightly different route by adding value, and power, to its cars. When a few months ago the German manufacturer launched the more powerful Polo GT TSI in the Indian market, we knew that soon the diesel Polo will get a similar treatment. So here is the new Polo GT TDI.
First, a few facts. Powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces a maximum power of 105PS@4400rpm and a maximum torque of 250Nm@1500-2500rpm, the Polo GT TDI is the most powerful diesel hatchback in its segment. But, unlike its petrol sibling, the GT TDI doesn’t get the famed 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, rather it continues with the 5-speed manual gearbox. The company claims the TDI also has been engineered for better fuel economy—it offers an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 19.78 kmpl.
So, to find out if the TDI can be as much fun as the TSI, we headed to the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), the Formula 1 track near Delhi. Now, as far as changes to the body are concerned, aside from the GT badging on the chrome front grille, the Estrada 185/60 R15 alloy wheels and halogen headlamps with black finish, it doesn’t look much different from the regular Polo. But sit inside, fire the engine, feel the revs, and the difference is apparent. First, the engine is relatively quiet. Shift into the first gear, let go of the clutch, and you will be surprised how eager the motor is. Press the accelerator, shift into the second and then the third, and by the time you are planning to hit the fourth gear, the car is already in three-figure speeds. You will also notice the smooth flow of the torque—it comes in early and in a linear fashion. The engine loves to be revved and easily touches 5,000 rpm. In fact, on the BIC straight, we reached speeds of up to 165 kmph (indicative). Although having already driven the GT TSI, I did miss the effortlessness of the the DSG gearbox, the nice part was that the GT TDI manual gearbox didn’t demand regular downshifts, which means that the car would be easy to drive in the stop-and-go traffic conditions. Then, the gear shifting is smooth too, as was the feedback from the electronic power steering.
Volkswagen has also carried out minor changes inside the cabin. For instance, there is a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped gearshift knob and handbrake lever handle. Then you have the aluminium pedal cluster and a sunglass holder inside the glovebox.
The question is, would consumers go in for, say, the diesel Hyundai i20 (its only real competition) or will they want to up their style quotient by considering the most powerful diesel car in its class. At R8.08 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the GT TDI isn’t really cheap, but it nevertheless is a value offering. But, as a consumer, would I like to buy one? Yes, only if close to the same price I could have had the GT TDI equipped with a DSG gearbox. You see, the consumers are always a step ahead of the car-makers.
VW Vento TSI
This week, Volkswagen also launched the more powerful version of its Vento sedan, called the Vento TSI. It is powered by a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces 105PS of power and 175Nm of torque. The good news is that like the Polo GT TSI, the Vento TSI also gets the 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The forced-induction TSI engines are compact, powerful and use less fuel when compared to bigger, normally-aspirated engines. In addition, TSI engines deliver higher torque output at relatively lower engine speeds, which makes these engines responsive as well as fuel-efficient in a wide range of operating conditions. The Vento TSI delivers an ARAI-certified fuel economy of 16.93 kmpl and is priced at R9.99 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi.