To celebrate 10 years of the Polo in India, Volkswagen India had organised an event at the Madras Motor Racetrack, Chennai last weekend. This event was to showcase the driving capabilities of the stock Polo’s on a racetrack followed by the Polo Cup race cars.The Madras Motor Racetrack is a permanent motor racing circuit located in Irungattukottai, Chennai, India. It was built in the late 1980’s and was inaugurated in 1990 and is owned by the Madras Motor Sports Club
The VW Polo ever since its launch a decade ago has quickly gone on to become one of India’s favourite “hot” hatchbacks. This is a category which has seen quite a few players enter in the last while. But no one has remotely seen the success the Polo has got. Reasons are plenty.
The original design of the Polo while being subtle has moved with the times. It has a certain timeless quality and appeal attached to it. That’s why even now when you look at the Polo, one hears comments such as “How the car’s design still looks fresh” “It’s a good-looking car “. I got a lot of such comments on social media the last time one reviewed the Polo.Volkswagen has made changes to the Polo’s exterior design down the years though. The grille, bumper, headlights, integrated fog lamps along with cornering lights were some of the design changes that happened in the last facelift of the car 2 years back. All VW cars have clean straight lines and solid design language. The Polo is no different. There is a chrome line running through the intake grille. The rear bumper along with the tail lamp cluster all add to the premium positioning of the car. Integrating the license plate into the rear bumper gives it a cleaner finish. The Polo comes with 15-inch alloy wheels while the lower spec variants get the 14-inch rims with newer wheel covers.
I had driven the Polo Cup Cars on the same racetrack in March of this yea at an event to celebrate 10 years of Volkswagen Motorsport in India. This was the 1st time I was driving these stock polos on the track. The conditions were overcast, early in the morning. There had been sporadic rainfall during the night. Thus, at the briefing we were told to take it easy and follow the pace car. Overtaking is a complete no-no at such events, as this isn’t a race but an appreciation of enjoying the full capabilities of the cars without taking any undue risks to oneself or the other drivers on track.
Our pace car was driven by Rayomand Banajee, 8-time national racing champion and driver coach at VW Motorsport India. I started with the manual Polo GT TDI Sport. The MMRT is one of my favourite racetracks which over the years has improved by leaps and bounds. Driving in damp conditions was a little challenging, but Rayo was making sure we drove at a pace that gave us enough opportunity to experience the driving capabilities of the Polo on track.The GT TDI Sport is one of the best hot hatch manuals in the business. Carrying speed into corners, touching 3-digit speeds, excellent braking characteristics. Driving a manual on the racetrack has its own charm and appeal.
Next up was the Polo GT TSI Automatic. Volkswagen has amongst the best automatic transmission systems in the business. The delivery of power is linear and smooth, no lag is experienced. This was obvious when one was throwing the car into corners, the acceleration into corners and out was brisk. By now the track had dried up quite a bit, so we are driving faster compared to earlier. The Polo’s setup is ideally suited to the tight and twisty MMRT circuit.Now after a few laps with the stock Polo’s, it was time for a taxi ride in the Polo RX. This is a powerful, rear-engine, rear wheel drive Polo designed for the ultimate adrenaline rush! Built in a Polo body shell, the RX is equipped with Ameo Cup car’s 1.8-litre TSI engine and sequential gear box with paddle shifters. The RX is the perfect car for track days, that’s beyond any limitation of racing regulations. Driving this was Karthik Tharani Singh one of the topmost track drivers in India today. Karthik is also a driver coach for the Ameo Cup Drivers, Polo R Cup winner in 2014 and is presently one of the VW Motorsport factory drivers in the MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Car Racing Championship 2019. In a span of the first few corners, Karthik showcased the full capability of the Polo RX. The noise of the engine, the way the car handles, the fierce acceleration every minute in the Polo RX was of sheer delight and unbridled joy. I can see lots of racing enthusiasts lining up to purchase this fast and furious Polo RX!It was now time to start with the Polo Cup cars. First one I jumped into was Polo TDI Cup Car, the 1st car in India with a diesel power-train. This is a 1.6 litre turbo charged engine that produces 130HP. Quick of the block, without ABS this was racing old school style. I was told that this would be a different experience as all the cars I have driven so far had driving aids. This didn’t. This car was a hoot to drive. Fast, compact with the super handling characteristics that the Polo is known for everything I threw at the car it responded in equal measure. Now the 2 laps were feeling very less, one wanted to drive more! The gearbox is smooth, refined something one come to expect with VW cars. The size and shape of the Polo makes it the perfect hatch to throw around on a track day.Next up was the Polo TSI Cup Car that comes equipped with a more powerful 1.4 litre TSI Engine that produces 180HP and is mated to a 6-speed automatic sequential DQ 250. It comes with a turbo charger and a super charger power unit. This was also the first touring race car to use paddle shifters in Indian Motorsport. Everything about this car being more powerful was obvious past the first few corners. The automatic gearbox, lots more power made driving this a super enjoyable experience. As the track was drying up, we found it easier to follow the racing lines, now one was carrying more speed out of the corners.With driving duties done for the day it was time to head back to Mumbai. Spending time with Volkswagen Polo cars on a racetrack is always exciting and fun. A perfect way to celebrate #10YearsofPolo in India.