11 August 2015

2014 Volkswagen Polo Notchback TDI

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Words and photos by Carlo Sapera

When Volkswagen returned to the country after more than a decade of absence in September 2013, it was reason enough for me to be excited. The dream of being behind the wheel of a modern Veedub is about to materialize.


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Automobile Central Enterprises (ACE), the official distributor of Volkswagen vehicles in the country, included the Polo Notchback (a.k.a. sedan) early last year as their card against popular rivals like the Toyota Vios and Hyundai Accent.  Armed with a diesel engine and German traits, can it go head-to-head with its Japanese and Korean counterparts in our market? Is it worth it?

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Meeting up

This was not my first time to be acquainted with the Polo Notch. My first hand experience with the German sub-compact was during the Car Awards Group testing last year. I was not disappointed with the Polo’s quality. Everything feels solid and well bolted together. The hard plastics on the doors don’t look cheap. They look very sturdy. The dashboard layout is very simple with the absence of touch-screen infotainment system and other toys. The audio system has a CD player and USB/AUX ports, though. But I just wonder why it doesn’t recognize my current-gen Apple iTouch. Thank goodness for the AUX connectivity and was able to enjoy the crisp and clear sound system.

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There’s plenty of head space for tall passengers. Leg room is adequate too. I find the seats very comfortable and supportive. As for the trunk space, the trunk can swallow large suit cases. Perhaps, you can fit in two average-sized adults.
I noticed that there is no rear power window switch for the driver and power side mirror adjuster button. These are features that many small cars have already. Tracing its history, the Polo Notch is meant to be entry-level Euro-spec automobile. I got the point. I won’t die without them, anyway.

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On metal

With the sea of Japanese and Korean sub-compacts on the road, the Polo Notch stands out. If its rivals come with curvy lines and loud exterior aesthetics, the one from Wolfsburg chooses to be low profile. It has rounded tail lights, rectangular head lights, 15-inch multi-spoke alloys, and horizontal chrome grille with the noticeable “VW” emblem. That’s it. But if you park it in a mall, it’s eye catchy. Why? It is German.

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The power beneath

A turbo-diesel engine in a sub-compact car is quite exciting. The Polo Notch’s TDI power block produces 104 hp with a generous serving of 205 Nm of torque. This power plant is paired with a five-speed manual transmission that made it more fun to drive. There is plenty of power for both city and highway drives. You won’t feel short-changed whenever you need to overtake headaches on the road (you know what I mean).

As for the fuel consumption, I was surprised that the needle hasn’t moved even after driving more than a hundred kilometers for three days. It’s very frugal. Volkswagen Philippines claims 28km/l on this sedan.

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On the road

Many sub-compacts these days have a light and numb steering feel. The Polo Notch doesn’t have that. I feel well connected with the road on every turn. On curves and fast-paced drives, the car is stable and behaved.

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One thing I like about the Polo is the quiet cabin. There’s not much road and noise inside. Ride-wise, it is soft even on uneven roads.

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Before judging the Volkswagen Polo expensive at P950,000, take time to examine the car. You won’t be disappointed with its handling and power. With the unstable fuel prices, you’d settle for something thrifty. This is what the Polo Notchback offers. It may not have the high tech toys which many sub-compacts of today have, but the Polo’s simplicity will last up to many years.

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So if you are particular about fuel efficiency and durability, why not consider the Volkswagen Polo Notchback TDI? So far, it’s the cheapest German car in the market.

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