New Volkswagen Polo — Can it beats the rest?



 

The new Polo rolls into Singapore today, and its launch gives Volkswagen a contender in the important sub-S$100,000 segment

  • Sixth-generation Polo now in town
  • Two versions on sale: Comfortline (S$89,900) and beats (S$99,900)
  • Bigger inside and out
  • New standard features, beats version has digital instruments
  • 1.0-litre turbo engine with seven-speed twin-clutch auto

 

SINGAPORE — There’s a new Volkswagen Polo in Singapore, meaning the brand’s model ladder has a new bottom rung here.

It’s priced from S$89,900 with Certificate Of Entitlement, but the money buys more than before: the new VW Polo is bigger, more practical, and better-equipped.

The sixth generation model’s arrival gives the brand a contender in the increasingly important sub-S$100,000 segment in Singapore.

Volkswagen Group Singapore (VGS) launched it at the Alexandra Road showroom with a catwalk-style event, showcasing the car with clothes from homegrown fashion label Amos Ananda.

“We’ve partnered with Amos Ananda because his design is all about individuality. He’s someone who dares to be bold and different, just like the Polo,” Ricky Tay (below), the managing director of VGS said at the launch. He called the Polo “a giant among small cars” and said the model has grossed more than 14 million in unit sales for Volkswagen worldwide.

Two versions of the new Polo go on sale today, both powered by the same 1.0-litre TSI engine paired with a seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic. The drivetrain is good for 115 horsepower and 200 Newton-metres of peak torque (delivered at 2,000rpm). That’s good for peppy performance — 0 to 100km/h takes 9.5 seconds, and top speed is a heroic 200km/h.

Six airbags are standard with the Polo, as are a driver fatigue detection system and the post-collision automatic brake system that helps keep a single car accident from turning into a  multiple collision.

The base Comfortline model comes with two-zone climate control, and keyless entry and engine starting (a new feature for the Polo). An eight-inch touchscreen Composition Media infotainment system handles the media duties. It’ll read files off a USB stick, but also has Bluetooth connectivity.

It’s also mounted on the dash behind a slick-looking glass panel, which is one of the things that helps the new Polo look more upmarket than the previous one.

None of the Polos come with GPS navigation, but your smartphone will be able to power that for you, via Apple CarPlay or VW’s App-Connect system.

If you’re willing to spend S$99,900, there’s the more upmarket beats model. VW licences the name from the Beats by Dre headphones label that Apple now owns, so naturally it comes with a more powerful, 300-watt sound system with an eight-channel amplifier, six speakers and subwoofer.

Apart from beats logos on the car’s b-pillars and on the front seat upholstery, you can identify the more expensive version by its glass sunroof, black wing mirror caps and a different alloy wheel design (albeit in the same 16-inch size).

It’s worth pointing out, too, that the beats version is sold here in only three colour choices, chosen to match its red dashboard.

Other spec includes a rear view camera and park assist, along with VW’s Active Info Display, the virtual dashboard that replaces physical instruments with digital ones. The Polo actually gets the second generation of the system, which is built around a 10.25-inch screen and sharper new graphics.

The beats variant and its S$10,000 premium is obviously aimed at music lovers or the digitally savvy, but the new Polo is designed to be a more grown-up car in general.

It’s built on Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 architecture. Variations of this underpin larger cars, among them the Golf and the Passat, and even the Tiguan crossover and the posh Arteon grand tourer. Or Audi’s A3, Q2 and Q3, if you really want to talk posh.

The upshot of that is that the new Polo should deliver a noticeable jump in ride quality, while remaining frisky to drive.

The more angular (and less cutesy) styling reflects the more expensive engineering underneath, and the car has new proportions — the wheelbase is longer (by 94mm), and it’s longer and wider than before overall.

In our market, the overall height is a smidgen greater. All of that makes it look a bit sportier, but it’s roomier inside with more headroom in the cabin are rear seats that feel less upright. The longer wheelbase creates noticeably more rear legroom.

Even the boot is bigger, and significantly so — it’s grown by 25 percent, having expanded from 280 to 351 litres.

Yet, space ultimately isn’t a trump card that VW would play for the Polo. For similar money a Kia Cerato offers much more real estate, while Skoda’s Rapid Spaceback truly lives up to the second part of its name.

Other rivals include the excellent Hyundai i30 (another bigger car) and the Honda Jazz, whose fortunes have been revived by the current environment of relatively cheap Certificates Of Entitlement. Then there’s the fun and perky Suzuki Swift.

But perhaps what’s most interesting about the VW Polo’s entry is that it coincides with the deletion of the Golf 1.0 TSI from the Singapore price list. A Volkswagen Group Singapore rep told CarBuyer the cheapest Golf has been sold out and is still technically available on an “indent only” basis.

Yet, in terms of ready stock the next cheapest car up from the Polo is now the Golf Comfortline 1.4 TSI, which is S$105,400 on the latest VW price list. That’s a gap of up to S$15,500 — when the previous Polo entered our market a Golf was only S$2,000 more expensive. For all the rivals the new Polo faces, at least its own larger sibling isn’t one of them.

 

 

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.