Hello again folks, now's the time for one of those longer than usual reviews that hopefully would assist you in your quest to purchase the correct car for the time being. Of course this is only for the time being as people change and tastes change along the way. Especially if you suddenly get that promotion and start thinking of cars bigger than the one you're driving at the moment. It happens. And before I start going on and on and on, I've just got my hands on the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 Hatchback and this is what I think about it. Do read on.
The interior is typically Volkswagen. This means that is has been thought out thoroughly. The switchgear are laid out logically and within reach of most fingers and hands. There is good tactile feel on all the knobs and buttons. The perceived quality at a glance is very good even if it looks a little plain in terms of stying and design. The instrumentation is very legible during all times of the day with clear and standardized fonts throughout the car.
Secondy, some secondary switches like the cruise control and control for the information display on the meter cluster is a tad bit tiny. And since this is a base model, there are many, many, many empty slots for buttons in the middle of the dashboard underneath the air-vents. Of course, you still get tons of kit so I suppose those must be buttons for traction control 'off', sunroof controls, rocket launchers, ejector seat controls and so on. Not items you really need in your daily commute of course.
Thirdly, the rear seats don't fold as flat as you would want them to. But unless you really need them really, really flat, it shouldn't be too much of an issue to those using it for regular commutes.
And finally, like some modern small cars (the Toyota Vios comes to mind), it does not have a water temperature gauge. This means, like the Vios you would only know you're in trouble when you're in trouble...i.e, when the red warning light comes on. For people like Yours Truly, this warning may be too late. But one must note that most small cars omit this gauge this days. Volkswagen isn't alone in this not so tiny detail.
The ride comfort of the Polo 1.6 is good. It actually smothers bumps and undulations quite well. It does not bounce over them like the Peugeot 208. It is better than the Suzuki Swift 1.4 which is sportier in its setup. It is slightly firmer than a Toyota Vios but overall NVH is better in that over speed bumps the car is more compliant. Wind noise is kept under control as is engine noise. According to long time VW fan and friend Ken, it has that typical VW'ish sound when on the move. The engine is less harsh than the Peugeot 208 at most speeds mainly due to having a 6 speed automatic over a 4 speeder in the Pug. In fact that 6 speed makes it quite fun to drive. Road noise is also quite well capped too. Overall the car is refined for a supermini or B segment car.
It also performed well during the pouring rain except for one tiny leak on the driver's side window frame when stationary during the rain induced traffic jam when we were travelling on Jalan Duta. It did not leak when we were on the move and it did not leak again after I got home and started meddling with it, pushing and fiddling with the seals on the door as well as trying to replicate it with water from a garden hose. I suppose I must have fixed it. So this must have boiled down to some quality control issues at the factory and is easily sorted out.
Mechanical Orientation: Front Wheel Drive
Torque: 153 NM
Transmission: 6 speed automatic with Tiptronic
Top Speed: 184 km/h (manufacturer's figures)
Against: tiny switchgear, slightly hard padding on the seats, and the lack of a water temperature gauge, some build quality issues on the test car, rear seats don't fold really flat