There are good days and then there are great days. A typical good day in the life of an auto journalist would involve driving a luxury car or riding a superbike. However, a great day in the life an auto journalist is almost always at a race track. We recently got a chance to travel to one of the most iconic racetracks in India to get a taste of the venerable Volkswagen Polo and its many avatars.
We’re taken to the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) bright and early before the 2019 Indian National Car Racing Championship was due to start. Once we reached the pits, we got our first glimpse of the glistening Polo cars. There was the stock Volkswagen Polo in three different variants – the 1.2-litre MPI petrol engine, 1.5-litre TDI diesel engine and the 1.2-litre TSI petrol automatic. Then we had the completely rear-engined Polo RX and finally the Polo Cup cars.
First up, we got our hands on the stock Polo with the TDI engine. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see just why the Polo has been chosen to have some many race-bred versions. It’s got a stiff chassis that allows for greater handling but the added weight does seem it at some level. However, personally speaking, I never had a problem with the weight of the car. That’s because I own a Polo and I know that added weight ensures a certain level of safety for the passenger. That aside, the TDI engine is a delightful one, which is both frugal and fun at the same time. However, at MMRT, we felt more at home with the Polo GT TSI. We drove the GT next and it felt a lot more at home thanks to the 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox and the petrol engine.
Next up, we got a taxi ride in the Polo RX. For the uninitiated, the Polo RX is an extreme version of the original car which produces 205 hp of power and 320 Nm of torque and is rear-engined. It gets 1.8-litre TSI petrol engine mated to a 6-speed sequential gearbox. We were taken around the track by a professional race car driver from the Volkswagen Motorsport division. It goes without saying that the RX was a hoot, even though we weren’t in the driving seat!
Since the RX was running on slicks, we didn’t really see what it can do in the corners but from what we did witness, let’s just say its very capable. It also makes quite a racket, but its the good kind of racket. The kind where you look to a fellow petrolhead and just nod in agreement.
Lastly, we got behind the wheel of the Polo Cup cars. There were two versions present at the racetrack – the Polo TDI Cup and the Polo TSI Cup. We first had a go in the TDI Cup which gets a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine which produces 130 hp of power and 250 Nm of torque. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, which for like a novice like myself, can be a little challenging on a race track. However, the more than ample power and no driving aids make this Polo particularly difficult to handle. However, it does show that not all diesel engines are meant to be noisy and slow.
Things were a little different in the Polo TSI Cup. By different, we mean a little easier. Since the Race Polo TSI came with 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The 1.4-litre TSI super-charged petrol engine produces 177 hp of power and 250 Nm of torque. The power delivery felt a lot more potent and cornering also felt a bit easier thanks to the paddle shifters on the steering column.
However, one aspect which was common amongst all cars was the fun factor. All the Polos exuded a sense of ever-lasting solidity which seemed like it could last forever. All-in-all, a fun day at the track, thanks to folks at Volkswagen India. Both Volkswagen India and Volkswagen Motorsport India will soon be celebrating their 10 years in India. And yes, we’ll be sure to bring you all the updates from the celebrations. Until then, this particular experience served as a precursor for the events to follow soon.