Best in the class car
The doors open & shut with a mild thud and via a 3-stage action (a la European cars). Thanks to the lower stance of the car, you don't walk into the Polo as you do with the tallboy hatchbacks; instead you have to "sit down" inside. The elderly as well as those with back problems would do well in making note of this factor. The Polo is well-screwed together. There's not a single uneven panel gap, or anything at all that feels loose on the inside. The interiors feel durable and fully capable of handling abuse. As an example, there's no way you could break the glove box lid, even if you tried! The design is straight-forward in a very German way. It is a no-fuss look and comes across as under-stated (just like the exteriors). The focus is clearly on function rather than form. However, parts are hard to the touch everywhere. There are no real soft touch plastics to speak of, as you would expect in a European car. Considering the price of the base variant though, the quality of parts is good (and better than some competition). Some feel good buttons are present like the one for the cabin light or hazard parking lights - but they are few and far between.
The colour combination of black, beige & chrome accents is sheer class and will keep both camps happy (the ones who like black or those who prefer beige). A generous greenhouse lends an airy ambience to the Polo's interiors. Lateral support from the driver's seat is A+. You sit deep into the front seats, with the bolstering hugging your sides. The seat compound is neither too soft nor too firm, it's just right (though still on the firmer side). The seats are high on support, and felt good even after 150 kms of driving. The three spoke steering wheel is meaty to hold. A big plus point is that rake as well as reach adjustments are standard on every variant, including the base. It's amazing how 5 lakh rupee hatchbacks are now packing the amenities that 10 lakh rupee sedans lacked until just a couple of years ago. Further, on the top variant, the driver's seat is height adjustable too. This multitude of adjustments makes it easy to find your perfect driving position. The driver enjoys a super all-round view. The dashboard itself is set on the higher side, but it is not an issue in the highline variant with a height adjustable seat. However, shorter drivers will have to crane their necks in the lower-end variants (sans height adjustment).
The dashboard looks good overall, with the center panel tilting subtly toward the driver for that cockpit effect. All crucial controls are within an arms length. However, the design of the center dashboard area is terribly uninspiring. Both, the air-vents and air-conditioner controls look rather rudimentary. I have to make a special mention of the stubby gearshift. It's a stylish small gearknob that's great to hold (and to use). Shift quality is sure-slotting and the gearshift amongst the best from this segment. The driving position isn't perfect though. For the taller amongst us, our left knee will keep hitting against the center console (see picture below). Also, I find the clutch pedal position at rest (especially in the petrol) a tad too high for long legs. I have my doubts on how this is going to work in bumper to bumper traffic. The clutch pedal throw also seems fairly long, relative to other B segment hatchbacks. Rehaan didn't face either of these issues, yet rest assured, the taller amongst us most certainly will. While the convex glass ORVMs (outside rear view mirror) do their job well, the internal rear view mirror is taller & narrower than you'd expect. It is pretty useless and doesn't cover the entire of the rear windscreen. Also, the rear seat has full-size headrests that block the view out that much more. Another negative is in the Euro-style control stalks (indicator on the left, wipers on the right).
Room at the front is good, and the large glass area adds to the feeling of space. Good thing about a wide hatch like the Polo is, shoulder room is sedan like. You won't be elbowing the front passenger when shifting gears (as I did in the Punto and the Beat). Long travel front seats classic German trait mean even a 6 footer can stretch his legs completely. Either footwell is large enough for size 10 shoes. Rear space, however, isn't the Polo's selling point. Legroom can best be termed as adequate and is similar to a Maruti Ritz (cars like the Jazz or Vista are far roomier). With Rehaan (height 5'8") driving the Polo, I (5'10") can sit on the back seat and have inch space between my knees and the front seat. Taller passengers can probably get away with burying their knees into the soft compound seatback. While on taller passengers, I must add that rear headroom is at a premium. The Polo's wide berth allows for a wide rear seat. If and when you need to, a 3rd passenger can easily fit in. The 5th passenger seatback is soft & spongy too. However, the transmission tunnel is high and the 5th occupant hopefully remains an exception rather than the rule in your usage patterns. The rear bench is fairly large, thus the back & under-thigh support are sufficient. The car's waistline is not too high, thus allowing for a generous greenhouse at the back too, only helped further by the rear quarter glass. A good amount of light makes its way into the Polo's rear confines. The rear windows roll down about 70% of the way, while the rear headrests are height-adjustable units.
The Polo has first-class storage space. The glovebox is the largest amongst hatchbacks. It's wide, tall and sufficiently deep. There are also cut-outs for your sunglasses and coins within the glovebox itself. A pair of innovatively placed bag hooks on the B pillars are cool. Door pockets on all 4 doors, while the front door bottle holders can hold 1.5L water bottles. The door pockets are medium sized and can easily carry oddities. There are a couple of cubby holes around the handbrake area, and two well sized cup-holders right ahead of the gearshift. No seat-back pockets on the version that we were driving though. Boot space at 280 liters is amongst the largest from this segment. The boot is nearly identical to that of the Figo (284 liters), yet substantially larger than the Swift (232 liters), i10 (225 liters) and even the Indica Vista (236 liters). The rear seat of the Comfortline / Highline variants splits into a 60:40, or can entirely fold away for added load flexibility. No 60:40 split on the base variant though.
Allow me to dedicate a paragraph to the poorly thought out door locking mechanism. Firstly, the doors don't auto-lock when you start driving. To add to it, there isn't a visible lock / unlock knob sticking out of the door panels, reminding you to lock the doors (some cars have an orange marking on each door lock / unlock latch, others have a lock / unlock stalk that sticks out at the top). In the Polo, the only way to lock all doors is from the driver's control panel (passengers cannot lock their doors independently). So you'll have to be mindful of these facts and remember to lock the doors each time that you drive off. Then, if you open any of the doors (after manually pressing the lock button), the rest of the doors still remain locked. I lost count of the number of times I opened the driver's door, went to the back door only to discover that it's still locked, and then had to walk back to the driver's door to manually press the unlock button (to unlock all doors). I also lost count of the numerous times that I drove the Polo with all doors unlocked (with a laptop on the back seat), thanks to the lack of auto-locking & any visible "doors unlocked" warning. The lock sign (driver's door) has a subtle but fairly noticeable light on it. It's well-illuminated. However, only the lock icon is illuminated, not the unlock one. A Maruti 800 with a 1,500 rupee central locking kit offers a more practical lock / unlock solution.
The Polo's air-conditioner is extremely chilly, even on the petrol variant. I was sitting on the backseat and, with the blower setting only on position 2, the ice cold air was hitting my face. Further, the interiors are well insulated from external sounds. The minute you roll up the windows, the outside world stays outside.
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