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REVIEW: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI DSG is the pick of the bunch

Published Jul 22, 2022

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QUICK REVIEW: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 85kW DSG

Johannesburg – After testing the 70kW manual version of the recently upgraded Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI we concluded that it was a sophisticated package with very little to fault, besides the fact that the market is increasingly gravitating towards gearboxes that do the work for you.

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Although the new Polo is priced well within the segment ballpark, it is getting a little expensive, with the mid-spec manual Life version retailing at R358 900 at the time of writing (July 2022). In that context the 85kW DSG version seems to make a bit more sense as it costs R380 000, which is a premium of just R21 000.

In addition to the dual-clutch automated gearbox, you’re also getting an extra 15kW and 25Nm for that minimal outlay, which means that this model makes a lot of sense on paper. But what’s it like in the real world?

We recently spent a week with the Polo Life 85kW DSG and for the most part it delivered exactly what we were expecting, besides one quirk.

At altitude there is a bit of turbo lag. It’s not severe, and it only lasts for around two or so seconds if you bury the throttle, but it’s also a little annoying when you want to enter a busy road quickly.

Once it’s on the boil, performance is impressive, however. Not exciting necessarily but brisk and effortless. Unless you’ve just stepped out of a GTI, you’ll probably never want more power than what’s on offer here.

The seven-speed DSG gearbox does its job with swiftness and precision, and there’s also a sport mode that brings a sportier and more responsive feel. Although it holds the gears for longer, this sport mode never felt overbearing, but instead made for a more entertaining and vocal driving experience.

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Of course, if you want to be in control the gears can be shifted manually, and a set of steering paddles is now standard since the facelift, but things work so well in auto mode that those flappy paddles are likely to be neglected by most drivers.

The Polo TSI is reasonably economical too, with our test car drinking 8.0 litres per 100km on city streets. Spend more time on the highway and that will of course come down – the 70kW unit we had earlier this year sipped 5.4 l/100km on the freeway.

Like the aforementioned model, the Volkswagen Polo DSG delivers a sophisticated and refined driving experience. It’s quiet, rides comfortably and holds on well through the corners, while the steering offers good feedback.

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The cabin is digital but not too digitised, with an electronic instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment coming standard, but thankfully the ventilation controls remain analogue.

If you really want the fancy stuff, however, you are going to have to pay up. The larger Discover Media infotainment system fitted to our test car, with built-in navigation, costs an extra R20 600, while the nice-to-have IQ.Light matrix LED headlights will set you back a further R15 900.

And just like that you have a R400 000+ Polo. Further to that you can also order a ‘safety package’ for R13 100, which brings semi-autonomous driving features like Adaptive Cruise Control with ‘Stop & Go’ traffic assist, Lane Keeping System, Pedestrian Monitoring and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

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It’s a small hatchback with some big-car features and it’s not impractical either (consider that it’s said to have bigger internal dimensions than the Golf 4). Rear legroom is decent by segment standards – there’s a bit of stretching space but not a considerable amount - and the 351 litre boot should fit most owners’ requirements.

VERDICT

Although hardly cheap at R380 000, the Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 85kW DSG offers arguably the best value within the recently facelifted line-up.

There are a few small niggles, like the lag on pull-off, but other than that it’s a highly sophisticated package with the driving qualities to match and a list of (albeit optional) features that you’d typically only find on much higher-end cars.

FACTS: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 85kW Life DSG

Price: R380 000 (April 2022)

Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, turbopetrol

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch, automated

Drive: Front-wheel drive

Power: 85kW @ 5000-5500rpm

Torque: 200Nm @ 2000-3500rpm

0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 200km/h (claimed)

Fuel use: 5.4 litres per 100km (claimed, mixed use)

Fuel use: 8.0 litres per 100km (tested, town only)

Boot capacity: 351 litres

Kerb weight: 1070kg

Fuel tank capacity: 40 litres

Warranty: 3-year/120 000km

Service plan: 3-year/45 000km

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