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HomeDRIVENROAD TESTEDTHE POLO R-LINE

THE POLO R-LINE

Every manufacturer dreams of bringing to market a vehicle with such appeal and overall excellence that buyers will form eager queues around the block to get their hands on such a must-have set of wheels.

Having sold nearly 170,000 Polos since February 2010, ranging from the entry-level Vivo to derivatives featuring 1.4 diesel engines, with some 1.2-litres and even 1.3-litre GTi models in the mix, the time had come for Volkswagen to display its engineering expertise when it comes to wringing maximum horses out of minimum cubic capacity.

In a move away from the conventional four-cylinder engine configuration, the R-Line’s little (999 cc) three-cylinder turned out to be an engineering tour de force, and one of those “why didn’t we think of it earlier” moments.

THE ENGINE

For such a small capacity power source to dust off the 0-100 km/h sprint in under ten seconds (9.3) takes some doing, and is a direct consequence of a power band which kicks in at 2,000 r/min and keeps on delivering right up to 3,500 r/min. Even the top speed of 197 km/h is a marvellous achievement, while the (claimed) fuel consumption figure of 4.4 litres/100 km is even more testimony to technological advances made in recent times by the Volkswagen Group which includes liberal use of such technologies as Stop/Start and battery regeneration. Also, the 7-speed DSG transmission places the R-Line in a prestige bracket where size is secondary.

STANDARD FEATURES

During the test period of seven days, we developed a strong affinity with the car’s build quality, the super-tight turning circle, and the Polo’s ability to zip in and out of tight parking spaces. Having said this, the Polo R-Line is also a competent long-distance tourer that makes full use of its unique features to turn a long distance event into a pleasurable experience. Bluetooth connectivity with iPhone interface was nothing short of marvellous, while sports front seats, front fog lights and fatigue detection elevate the Polo’s stature to a level where the rivals are bigger, heavier and much more expensive.

Other aspects which the test drivers thoroughly appreciated included climatronic air conditioning, optional LED headlights, as well as an optional sunroof.

ROAD MANNERS

With all the requisite safety features such as ABS, stability control, disc brakes on all four wheels and quality rubber on 17″ alloy rims, and four airbags, the Polo R-Line ventured deep into peace-of-mind territory. There are few things scarier than badly designed cars which leave one with white knuckles and perspiration, and I will be eternally grateful to Volkswagen engineers who, seemingly, have put heart and soul into the R-Line project. There was virtually no discernible turbo lag or torque steer, and the ease with which the Polo could be flung around corners was yet another fun factor worth mentioning. Larger bodied cars just won’t be able to compete with the R-Line when it comes to its display or sheer exuberance.

LAST WORD

The 1.0 Turbo R-Line certainly wouldn’t qualify for the title of Budget Car of the Year, but follows in the footsteps of its predecessor which was the South African Car of the Year in 2011. At R290,200 – without all the delectable optional goodies – the R-Line is decent value for money – if then only because of its inherent exclusivity and huge dollops of fun. It’s that kind of car in which to spend as much time as possible. The price includes a 3-year/45,000 km service plan, and a 3-year/120,000 km warranty. It has few rivals – perhaps the Abarth 595 1.4 Turbo (R10,000 more) – but it defies comparison with other vehicles costing as much.

Report by BERNARD HELLBERG SR | Images by VOLKSWAGEN

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