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Made for India

It’s no secret that the global auto market is facing a huge slowdown and emerging markets like India and China are expected to steer the industry’s growth in future. So it’s hardly surprising that the big car majors are seriously looking at India. As is Volkswagen, which has revealed its plans to unveil the new Polo in India.

Yes, it’s the same Polo that the automaker unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last month. With its brand new plant at Chakan near Pune, Volkswagen seems ready to meet the nation’s demand for a fuel-efficient, environment-friendly, safe and value-competent car.

The new Polo exhibits Volkswagen’s trademark design sensibilities, especially in the wide grille and slim headlights. The car’s air intake is located below the grille and bumper, with the fog lamps and daytime running lights fitted on either side.

Volkswagen has added some neat touches like the slight slope in the roof towards the rear and the quarter-glass on the C-pillar. A strong character line runs just below the window line from the headlamps to the tail-lights, giving the car a dynamic stance. The tail-lights continue the notched theme of the headlights and the tailgate extends down to the bumper.

The Polo’s three-spoke steering wheel and rectangular centre console blend well with the interior’s fantastic finish. With the seats up, the Polo has 280 litres of luggage space that can extend to 952 litres once the rear seat folds flat. But boot space is lesser than the 300 litres available on the Skoda Fabia, which is based on the same platform. On rear space too, the Polo comes second to the Fabia as its tapering roofline is lower, eating into the headroom.

The new car is 30mm wider than the earlier model but Volkswagen says that it’s still 7.5 per cent lighter and offers better driving dynamics. The automaker has also moved the front wheels forward to bring about directional stability.

Though Volkswagen will tailor the Polo to Indian standards, it’ll have some of the European Polo’s characteristics. For stability on Indian roads, a MacPherson suspension and a semi-independent layout in the front and rear will be put in, with re-worked springs and dampers for higher ground clearance.

Fuel economy is extremely important in the Indian market. So, Volkswagen has revamped the new Polo’s powertrain, making it up to 19 per cent more fuel efficient than the earlier model.

Apart from improving the Polo’s drive quality, handling and fuel-efficiency, Volkswagen has looked at safety issues too. It claims that possible intrusions into the cabin upon severe impact have been reduced by almost 50 per cent. The car scored five stars on the benchmark Euro NCAP safety tests.

Though Volkswagen hasn’t finalised the Polo’s engine options for India, expect a range of three and four-cylinder engines. A 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 68bhp, similar to the Fabia’s, may power the base version.

Keeping costs in check, the ‘Made-in-India’ 1.2-litre petrol hatchback is expected to start at under Rs 5 lakh, ex-showroom, while the base 1.6-litre petrol could be priced close to the Rs 7 lakh mark.

Given the competition, the Polo won’t come cheap, but Volkswagen seems optimistic. The Polo’s biggest competitor will be the Skoda Fabia. But if Volkswagen’s determined approach towards the Indian market is anything to go by, the Polo will be a great success.

A Polo saloon anyone?

Volkswagen has confirmed that it will get a saloon version of the Polo for India. This version will have a longer wheelbase and substantially more legroom at the rear. The saloon is expected to feature a 1.6-litre TDi (common-rail) diesel and 1.6-litre petrol engine with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearbox as options. It is likely to cost around Rs 8 lakh to Rs 9 lakh. The Polo saloon will probably attempt to dethrone the king of this segment, the almighty Honda City.

spec check

Volkswagen Polo

Price: Rs 5 lakh — Rs 7 lakh (est)

L/W/H: 3952/1682/1454mm

Wheelbase: 2470mm

Kerb weight: 1067-1157kg

Engines: 1.2 MPi/1.2 TDi/1.4MPi/1.6 TDi/1.2 TSI

Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive

Power: 68bhp/NA/83bhp/87bhp/102bhp

Suspension (F/R): Independent, double wishbone, torsion beam/ Non-independent, leaf springs

Gearbox: 5-speed manual/6-speed manual/7-speed DSG

Brakes (F/R): Ventilated discs/ drums

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