LONG-TERM UPDATE 2 | Captivity is not the best shade on a Polo GTI

20 May 2020 - 14:27
Brenwin Naidu's long-term Volkswagen Polo GTI.
Brenwin Naidu's long-term Volkswagen Polo GTI.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

As lockdown regulations have gradually begun to ease, dealerships are now permitted to trade under certain guidelines. Welcome news for the industry, particularly on the new vehicle retail side, where expectedly devastating figures were recorded during April.

Now, even though the doors are open, consumer appetite for cars is unlikely to be voracious in a fragile economy. Some have speculated that pent-up demand would compel masked shoppers into showrooms ... Maybe, but with livelihoods severely affected and disposable income non-existent for most, demand could struggle to translate into actual purchases.

We can resume the discussion in July, after a full month of semi-normal trading, assuming we continue to move further down the respective levels.

That moment when the Polo went all 'crazy eights' on us.
That moment when the Polo went all 'crazy eights' on us.
Image: Supplied

On the subject of scaling down, when we took delivery of our long-term Volkswagen Polo GTI in March, we said it represented a neat way for a Golf 7 GTI admirer to get most of the thrills associated with the badge, for less. There are many South Africans for whom attainment of those three letters remains an enticing prospect. After a month and a bit with the plucky Polo, we have mostly good to report, in addition to some gripes.

As it stands parked, the trip meter indicates exactly 888km since collection on March 24. It already had just under 1,000km when we took the keys. Coincidentally, the average consumption reads 8.8l/100km. Consider for further amusement that in Volkswagen parlance, the engine featuring here wears the internal designation of EA888. According to a Google search on numerology, 8 represents good things: confidence and power. So that is quite nice. I was far happier to see the number 6, however, as in 6.2l/100km on the open road.

Of course, tasks for the Polo so far were limited to work-related commutes as well as grocery-getting activities. Driven sedately, one expected the six-speed DSG to shift up sooner than it does, even in its meekest Eco setting. Milling at pedestrian speeds amplifies certain compromises: like the hard ride, courtesy of those 18-inch rollers. It gets good marks for quietness and insulation. Too good, perhaps, since a noticeable squeak from the rear of the cabin began making its presence known.

Red accents help lift an otherwise sombre interior.
Red accents help lift an otherwise sombre interior.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Driving with the audio system off attunes ears to the promising acoustic by-products of the turbocharger and exhaust. Though you will be disappointed if you were expecting it to sound as flatulent as the Golf GTI, with which it shares that 2.0-litre EA888 motor.

Still, the Polo is more than acceptably rapid. And the idea of getting better acquainted with its performance credentials – in the appropriate conditions – is something we look forward to exploring. For now, it is due for its second handwash by me. An act that may affirm, to my neighbours anyway, certain clichés about the youngish and doting GTI driver who cherishes his wheels a bit too dearly. It really does look fantastic when clean.


MONTH TWO PRAISES: Quiet cabin, heated seats effective

GRIPES: Firm suspension and low-profile combination gets shook by subpar surfaces, rear squeak to be investigated

ODOMETER: 1,900km



OPTIONS FITTED: 18-inch “Brescia” wheels (R6,000); leather upholstery (R9,950); sunroof (R11,900); park distance control (R3,350); dual-zone climate control (R3,950); LED headlamps (R13,200); lighter and ashtray (R300)