VW Polo: Small & subtle features that you might have overlooked

We are usually familiar with the highlighting features of our cars & chances are, that many of the small elements go unnoticed by us.

BHPian akshye recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Small things! Yes, the small things that matter!

You are warned about all the big things. You notice them in your first meet itself. But nobody tells you about those small things, ahh, those small things.

Now that you notice them, you can’t unsee them.

The cornering lights for example – should glow when you turn the wheel. How else are they termed cornering lights? I confirmed with the brochure, no note/comment says of its absence. Yet, they’re not following the steering. And everyone on the forum says, “Cornering lights work like a charm!”. Well, if you got MT, the cornering lights are not activated by steering, but the indicator!

“You purist (choose adjective of your choice)! You shall use your hands more! Don’t rest it on the lever, use that stick too. Or else – no cornering lights for you tonight.”

And then there is the engine. How highly praised gem of small pots! That’s highly assisted. No, it’s not a purist’s thing. The fly-by-wire dominates all. The engine braking is missing – yes, you read it right. Try releasing the accelerator pedal even in first gear, without depressing the clutch – it’s difficult, I know, as it’s a reflex to depress the clutch; but trust me on this. And you’ll be surprised to find that there is no jerk – engine RPM is maintained for a fraction second and then very smoothly and calmly RPMs start dropping. If you’re in a higher gear, it almost feels like you have selected cruise control – releasing the accelerator pedal doesn’t result in (almost) any RPM drop.

Floor the accelerator on a sharp uphill, when RPM is at or below idle in a higher gear (even 2nd can be higher). Well, nothing happens. The ECU decides not to pump more fuel since the engine can’t build RPM to get into the powerband.

The rev-matching is seamless and spot on though.

Result of all that ECU assistance? You get to boast about the mileage figures. “110 HP dude! 22 km/l! What an engine!”

The 6-speed box is just perfect! I initially felt 5th can be skipped, as it’s neither power-drive nor over-drive. But no. Every gear is perfectly spaced. 6th is true overdrive and 5th is there to maintain the cruising speed driving up the fly-overs. The slotting is satisfying; has a mechanical feel to it, not like a joystick.

When you use the indicator, you hear a switching sound. That’s the relay (electromechanical switch) sound, the indicator light contact make-break. With VW, it’s synthesized audio emitted from the cluster speaker. Interesting! It’s the same speaker that beeps for high-speed warning. Try using the lane change indicator when transitioning to 80 km/h and you’d know. The sound synthesis is spot on; kudos to VW for that!

Then there are trip meters, you find 3 of them. 2 are used to calculate trip time, distance, average speed, mileage over trip distance, etc. But you’re not in charge of your trip. VW tells you when they reset (read the manual and explain to me as well if you understand the trip reset logic). And they reset often. No workaround. Even those drcodemyvw folks can’t help you. The third trip meter obeys you, but the VW statistics engine won’t. “You want to maintain your trip distance, go calculate your statistics yourself! Or you let me do my job. Me Polo, me rulez!”

The lane change indicator blinks 3 times. Who changes lane within 3 blinks? Maybe all Indians who drive like snakes? But when do they get time to slide the stick during all those nasty manoeuvres? Do they even follow lane discipline to indicate change? The ones who indicate, won’t change the lane within 3 blinks sir (or ma’am). So you sincere fellas, count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi) and re-indicate. Attaboy! (Attagal is not a word, sorry ladies).

Yes, the brake lights – fly by wire. Press the brake pedal, lights are turned on, release the pedal, wait, are they broken? Now they are off. Good, the following traffic will keep their brakes pressed longer, even so slightly, but longer. A good way to say, “Stay away when I’m braking”.

Did I tell you about stalling the car? If you do, you can’t just turn the key to restart. It’s a safety feature. But when you stall, especially in traffic, you’d sure look like a rookie, trying to turn the key, all baffled. The key’s starter position is locked once the engine starts; you have to switch the ignition off and on again, to activate the starter position. It’s a good safety feature. I’ve absent-mindedly tried starting an already running engine (don’t give me the look, as you’ve never done any stupid thing in your life) and this feature prevented that from happening.

On the attention to detail side, speedometer numbers are 10 km/h apart till 40 km/h and 20 km/h apart thereafter. Similar is the case with the fuel level meter. The quarter tank mark is split into 4, all above are split in half. It’s very practical. The RPM and speedometer needles are lit all the time. You notice it only in the dark, kinda looks red hot (pun intended)!

When you lift the spare wheel lid in the boot, there is a lining that prevents potential rattling of the lid. It doesn’t cover the entire metal surface, just the contact points – but hey, it’s there in the cost-cutting century.

If you press the door lock button when any of the doors are not closed properly, you don’t get horn feedback and the cabin light remains on, to indicate the car’s not locked. If you leave the headlamp switch on and remove the key, there is an audible warning (the same cluster speaker beeps). The headlights are turned off though, I think.

The blackened B-pillar? That’s real cost-cutting. It’s a plastic piece. I know it’s now first on your list to go and knock on it to confirm. I’m really sorry for exposing them. Not cool VW!

The cabin light is so far ahead that it’s almost useless. The front seat headrest is the boundary, everything behind is in the dark. Good luck finding footwear the rear passenger removed.

When reversing, the sensors keep complaining ‘audibly’, not visually. So you keep guessing where the obstacle would be, behind that bumper. I never get such half pass features; what are you trying to prove? Ah, and my parking is wide enough to accommodate a Fortuner, but these sensors don’t like those side pillars. My son keeps asking, “Why is she complaining? And why don’t you listen to her, to shut her up?” And while we’re on the subject, my 3-year-old son does a better job warning me of obstacles when reversing (standing on rear seats, looking backwards). Also, I would have liked it if the infotainment volume is reduced when in reverse.

The suspension of this car exceeds expectations. Take inspiration from Altroz and maybe in the next review, you’ll be considered for an ‘outstanding’ rating. (I promise this is the only comparison, but you need someone to look up to. BTW, Altroz doesn’t get Outstanding either, we’ll ask her to look into Polo’s engine performance. And don’t list all flaws in a single review, you need to leave out some for the next review. There is always ‘room for improvement’). The Polo’s suspension is very well composed, with a really good balance between ride and handling. The smaller profile tyres cause some hard hits, on broken patches, at speed. But one quickly adapts to such behaviour. I must say, this car does great, especially on the highway.

And before I forget, I just love this car! I’m not the one to pull MG with a donkey. After spending a million and more, I better love my buy, or my better half will bury my less than average ass (again, pun intended) in it, making it a million rupees coffin. You know what, Flash Red is not a colour for a coffin.

P.S. All are my personal views, don’t hold me against your belief.

P.P.S. If I’ve left something out, VW should be glad, or not; anyway, they’re pulling the plug, so what the heck.

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