Performance, ride and handling

The turbocharged four-pot motor in the 1.2 TSI is basically a detuned version of the 105bhp unit found in the Sport as well as the Golf 1.2 TSI. In the base Polo, the 1197cc engine makes 90bhp at 4500rpm, 15bhp less than in its Sport sibling. Correspondingly, peak torque output is down from the Sport unit’s 175Nm to 160Nm, available between 1550rpm to 3500rpm. To put things in perspective, the old naturally aspirated 1.4 MPI makes 85bhp and just 132Nm, numbers that are significantly lower.  

The performance numbers are fairly good for an entry-level supermini with such a tiny motor – 0-100km/h comes up in a reasonable 10.9 seconds, with top speed rated at 182km/h which makes the new base Polo a second quicker to three figure speeds from rest when compared to the 1.4 MPI it replaces and just 1.2 seconds off the Polo Sport’s 9.7 seconds 0-100km/h time.

Thanks to its strong mid-range torque, the 1.2 TSI feels much sprightlier on the road than the 1.4 MPI it replaces, making the latter feel rather gutless at any given speed in comparison. When compared to the more powerful Sport, the new base model also doesn’t feel significantly slower or lesser performing despite the performance numbers suggest.

Like the Sport, the puny motor does suffer from slight turbo lag and poor throttle response at very low speeds. Once the turbocharger spools up, performance is sprightly and eager enough for many to consider the base Polo as a warm hatch. 

Another key aspect of the 1.2 TSI is its impressive fuel economy. Volkswagen claims that the new base Polo sips just 5.3 litres of unleaded for every 100km which equates to an almost hybrid rivaling 18.9 km per litre. Compared to the 1.4 MPI, the 1.2 TSI is nine percent more fuel economical overall while CO2 emissions is down to 124g/km from the 1.4’s 135g/km.

Obviously, the 1.2 TSI’s seven-speed DSG twin clutch gearbox plays a major role in the Polo’s strong performance and fuel sipping nature. The box’s hardware is similar to the one in the 1.4 MPI and other Polo models but a recent rethink in the tuning of the box has made it smoother and more responsive in the 1.2 TSI here than in earlier models with the same box.

The Polo’s suspension utilises relatively simple MacPherson struts up front and an even simpler torsion beam at the rear. The suspension feels properly tuned and set-up for the Polo and the little car feels adept enough in taking the twists and turns. The steering is well weighted and inspires confidence with its excellent feedback and feel.

For a small car, the Polo’s suspension offers an exceptionally high degree of comfort in the way it rides over bumps and road blemishes. It provides occupants a comfortable and pliant ride that is more like a much larger car. Its excellent ride, coupled with good noise insulation from the road and engine makes the Polo’s cabin one of the quietest place to be in on long, cruising journeys among its competitors.

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Sylvia Goh - 1 month ago


Engine Capacity 1197cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 90bhp @ 4500rpm
Torque 160Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 82.7 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 182 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed DSG
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3970 x 1682 x 1453) mm
Wheelbase 2470 mm
Turning Circle 10.6 metres
Kerb Weight 1088 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs