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REVIEW | Volkswagen Polo R-Line is well worth the premium price

21 July 2022 - 08:54
The Volkswagen Polo R-Line can be loaded with options which increase the price substantially but turn it into a luxurious little hatch.
The Volkswagen Polo R-Line can be loaded with options which increase the price substantially but turn it into a luxurious little hatch.
Image: Phuti Mpyane

If ever there has been a car that has resonated with SA, more so its youth, it’s the Volkswagen Polo. Just because a car is rooted in the bargain sector doesn't mean it can't be a premium one.

The new generation Volkswagen Polo hatch 1.0TSI R-Line is a prime example of this. We had one on test and we were blown away by the sophistication.

The R-Line nestles below the top-tier Polo GTI and is perched on extra-cost 17-inch Bergamo alloy wheels. It was pumped full of optional features which include a tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, IQ. Light LED matrix headlamps that include dynamic light assist and the new front light bar and LED rear lamps. All this including the Ascot Grey colour and a faux quartet of chrome-tip pipes that give it striking looks.

Keyless entry is another option added to gain access to the smart cabin. It's a near-perfect driving position and the interior is top-notch quality. It's easy to get in and out of and is spacious for five passengers with a 350l boot.

Inductive charging and wireless Android and Apple Carplay are part of the optional fitments.
Inductive charging and wireless Android and Apple Carplay are part of the optional fitments.
Image: Supplied

The seats are covered in grey and black upholstery with diamond patterns and they were comfy and offered good adjustability through manual levers. This is where the analogue bits end.

Dominating the dashboard is VW’s digital cockpit and Discover Media infotainment which swathes the interior with sophisticated and blue-lit backgrounds. It also brings navigation which you don’t really need in these days of smartphone integration and which, incidentally, connects wirelessly with Android Auto or Apple car play via Bluetooth. There is also inductive charging and USB-C ports for smartphones.

A starter button brings the 85kW/ 200Nm 1.0l three-cylinder turbo petrol engine to life. It’s a strong little engine that gifts the Polo with excellent low speed tractability and a sprightly sprint up to higher speeds. The standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox generates smooth and precise operation for different driving styles.

It’s no GTI and there’s no drive mode selector but it’s perfectly capable of sportier attacks. Volkswagen rates it with a 0-100km/h time of 11.2 seconds and a top speed of 200km/h. Steering wheel paddles are on hand for this pursuit, as is a chassis that glues the car to the road. 

The recently facelifted Polo is identified with new style tail lamps and the R-Line gets a mock quartet of tailpipes.
The recently facelifted Polo is identified with new style tail lamps and the R-Line gets a mock quartet of tailpipes.
Image: Phuti Mpyane

Stability control saves the day in high-adrenaline driving, but an economic cruise was the preferred gait and encouraged by this Polo’s easy-going ride quality.

It was also optioned with intelligent cruise control and automatic lane keep assist. With the optional IQ Light LED matrix headlamps, which provide maximum illumination without blinding oncoming traffic, this Polo R-Line becomes a trusty night-time pal. The optional Beats six-speaker audio system brought a crisp and banging musical soundtrack during these travels.

The reward for relaxed driving included a 6.1l/100km fuel consumption average, which is impressive and not much higher than its maker's claims of 5.4l100km.

The model costs R432,500 as standard and the options fitted blew the price to well over R500,000. VW offers a variety of Polos for different size pockets and the prospects of day-to-day running costs of big cars with this level of tech are daunting in these days of record high fuel prices.

This Polo R-Line left the impression of a second or even third car choice for the executive who wants a frugal, comfortable and unassuming runaround with all the bells and whistles. I like it very much.

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Three-cylinder turbo petrol

Capacity: 999cc

Power: 85kW

Torque: 200Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Seven-speed automatic

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 200km/h

0-100km/h: 11.3 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 5.4l/100km (claimed), 6.1l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 123g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Electronic Stability Control, ABS brakes, trailer stabilisation, six airbags, front fog lamps and cornering light, park distance control,  electric windows, heated electric mirrors, air conditioning, LED daytime running lights, touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB-C ports, auto on/off lights, rain-sensing wipers, remote central locking, cloth upholstery, multifunction steering wheel controls, digital instrument panel, trip computer

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Three years/120,000km

Service plan: Three years/45,000km

Price: R432,500

Lease: R9,284 a month

*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Volkswagen Polo R-Line 1.0 TSI

WE LIKE: Power, refinement, availability of high-end optional extras

WE DISLIKE: You have to buy an extra cable to use the USB-C ports

VERDICT: Polarising price position, brilliant car nonetheless 

Motor News star rating

Design ****

Performance  ****

Economy ****

Ride ****

Handling ****

Safety ****

Value For Money ****

Overall ****

The competition

Citroën C2 1.2T Shine, 81kW/205Nm — R374,900

Mazda2 1.5 Hazumi, 85kW/148Nm — R395,500

Suzuki Swift Sport, 103kW/230Nm —  R399,900

Hyundai i20 N-Line, 90kW/172Nm — R411,900

Opel Corsa 1.2T Elegance, 96kW/230 — R429,900

Mini One 5 door, 75kW/190Nm — R455,965

Audi A1 Sportback 30 TFSI, 85kW/200Nm — R467,300

Honda Fit Hybrid, 80kW/253Nm — R498,600   

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