REVIEW-THE NEW POLO GT TSI

2009 was when the 1st Volkswagen Polo came to our shores. Its 10 years now since then, but the loyalty and love the VW Polo shares amongst buyers and enthusiasts remains unchanged. That’s why it’s no surprise that the VW Polo has the distinction of being ranked no 1. for three years in a row according to the J.D. Power 2018 India Initial Study.Snapseed_2Down the years I have been fortunate to drive various models of the Polo during reviews. Every single time I have come back impressed. Last week I spent a few days with the 2019 Volkswagen POLO GT TSI the top variant in the Polo lineup.IMG_2649The 2019 model comes with quite a few exterior changes while retaining the timeless quality and appeal its known for. The new Polo comes in a brand new colour “Sunset Red” which gives the car a striking and sporty appearance. One gets new sporty side skirts, new smoked oil lamps, restyled tail lamps with LED elements, GTI inspired honeycomb front grille and bumpers, 16 inch alloys, rear bumpers with a faux diffuser-like black plastic.IMG_2647Step inside and you get a sporty looking flat-bottomed steering wheel that has controls on both sides of the wheel for audio, phone and multi-information display. The centre console has a silver finish on the exterior edges. The dual-tone interiors are very premium in finish. Chrome is prevalent even in the outlining around the air vents. The door mounted armrests have a fabric finish, seats are very comfortable and offer excellent under thigh support. Shoulder and headroom on offer is very good too. The legroom in the back seats is ideal for someone of average height. The Polo is a comfortable car for 4 passengers for long trips. The 5th person may find it a little discomforting courtesy the high tunnel height in the rear.IMG_2648The Polo I reviewed was the GT TSI that comes with a 1.2 litre engine that puts out 105PS horsepower and 175Nm of Torque. The transmission doing duty on this model is the legendary 7-speed DSG.

Start the engine, give it a rev, immediately you can sense the power under the hood. Put it into gear, step on the pedal and you get to experience the insane power the GT TSI offers. There’s zero lag going through the gears and before you know it, the car zooms away. The basic architecture of the engine is the same from the previous model, with a variable geometry turbocharger which force feeds air into the combustion chamber. The cabin is well insulated from engine sound, even while accelerating courtesy good NVH levels. The gear ratio is spread out specifically to help with the fuel efficiency figures the Polo returns.Snapseed 7Driving the Polo is something I have always come to enjoy. I enjoy driving hatchbacks that are complete in every sense of the word. In traffic the Polo is very easy to manoeuvre, overtaking is a breeze. Finding parking is effortless courtesy the size of the Polo. Safety in the Polo as with all Volkswagen cars is of the highest standards. ABS and front-dual airbags are standard across its range. An industry first in its segment.Snapseed 6Driving out of town on the weekend in the Polo was when I got to experience the full refinement and power of this 1.2 litre petrol engine. This is a car that remains planted even at high speeds.

The Polo handles all types of roads with ease, something that is a trademark of all VW cars. The suspension is soft enough to assure a comfortable ride quality over long distances. Braking is sharp, which is extremely confidence assuring when pushing the car hard into corners.Snapseed 4The Polo GT TSI is the ultimate hot hatchback for the enthusiasts.  The price for the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is Rs 9.76 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai.Snapseed_1

SKODA KODIAQ SCOUT-FIRST DRIVE

In a departure from tradition Skoda India organised the media drive for the Kodiaq Scout from Nagpur to Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

The Kodiaq is a premium SUV that has been around for the last few years. Just recently Skoda launched the Kodiaq Scout which is an updated version of the Kodiaq. The Kodiaq’s off roading abilities see an improvement with the Scout.

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The front of the Kodiaq Scout gets an all-black grille and largish silver scuff plate on the bumper.  Walk around to the side of the SUV and you see black plastic cladding, new dual-tone 18-inch alloy wheels. The Scout badge is prominently displayed on each of the front fenders, the OVRMS get a silver finish. The rear bumpers get a new silver diffuser. The Skoda symbol has been replaced with the brand name spelt in chrome lettering.

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The cabin of the Scout sees a change in the upholstery from the Kodiaq. The interiors are all- black, one gets dark polished wood trims on the dashboard and door pads. The dashboard also gets the Scout badge featured on it. The seat materials are a blend of Alcantara and leather with white contrast stitching. The Scout badge is stitched on the back of each seat.The seats and cabin are very premium, plush looking and very comfortable. Under thigh and legroom is good in all rows of the Kodiaq Scout.

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There is a large array of equipment and features on offer in the Kodiaq Scout. The Scout comes with a 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple and Android connectivity, three-zone climate control, a reverse camera along with front and rear sensors and nine airbags. A new addition to the Scout is theTPMS (tyre pressure monitoring sensors). There’s a huge panoramic sunroof, large windows, manual sun blinds for the rear windows. The rear seats come with the Nap Package which gives you neck restraints integrated in the headrests along with blankets.

The Scout gets a 2.0 litre TDI engine which puts out 150HP mated to a 7 speed DSG transmission, all-wheel drive system. There’s a new off-road mode in the Kodiaq Scout where the SUV works in sync with the electronic assists which help the driver while off-roading. It also works as a hill descent control system which is very useful while descending steep hill slopes. All the driver must do is give the required steering input while the Scout slowly drives down such a slope. The Kodiaq Scout comes with the Rough Road Package that gives underbody protection to the oil sump, engine bay, gearbox and suspension.

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We started from Le Meriden in Nagpur towards Pench National Park in the morning. Large four lane highways, barely any traffic made driving the Kodiaq on these fantastic roads a breeze. Going up and down the gears is done smoothly enough without any lag. Braking is sharp, getting to 3-digit speeds is done fast enough. The Kodiaq Scout is the perfect highway companion to drive cross country.  The suspension setup is ideal for our Indian roads, it absorbs bumps and bad roads with ease. Visibility from the driver’s side is excellent courtesy the large windscreen and design of the SUV. We covered the distance to Pench National Park in under 3 hours.

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Pench National Park is in Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh in India and includes Pench Tiger reserve. It derives its name from the Pench River that flows through the park from north to south dividing the park into almost equal western and eastern halves, the well-forested areas of Seoni and Chhindwara districts respectively. The national park consists of dry deciduous forests and much fauna and flora including tigers, various types of deer and birds. The Pench National Park legend says was the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. As we drove through the reserve area lots of retreats are named after Jungle Book Characters. We even saw a poster of a local event named after Mowgli!

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Post a sumptuous lunch at Baghvan Taj Safari Lodge, we experienced a small stretch of off-road terrain on our way to a picturesque lake. This small lake is one of the watering holes where one can sight tigers and other wild animals early in the morning.

The Kodiaq Scout is a premium SUV that is versatile, fun to drive on long trips, the off-road feature is great when one wants to go off-roading. Prices for the Skoda Kodiaq Scout start at 33.99 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai

MARUTI SUZUKI S-PRESSO FIRST DRIVE

Quirky, conversation starter, different looking is not how usually one describes small cars. Maruti did that with the Ignis a few years back, Now again with the S-Presso.Snapseed(18)The S-Presso is the mini SUV that Maruti has just launched. Priced very competitively and built on Suzuki’s latest next – gen Heartect platform, the S-Presso promises to be a game changer. How was it? Let’s find out.

DESIGN AND STYLINGSnapseed(42).jpgThe S-Presso has the kind of design that starts a conversation. The first thing you notice is that the ground clearance is relatively high. The S-Presso comes with upright pillars and high set bonnet giving it a SUV like appearance. Viewed from the front the S-Presso comes with a prominent grille with angular headlights and LED daytime running lights. The chunky cladding on the bottom portion of the bumper, completes the SUV look.IMG_1713.jpgIMG_1712.jpgThe wheel arches are high and come with standard 14inch wheels. One gets the option of machined alloy wheels as part of the accessories package that Maruti is offering. Walk to the back of the S-Presso and you see simple looking tail lights and lots of cladding on the rear bumper that complete the look.

THE CABIN:

First thing one sees stepping into the S-Presso cabin is the instrument cluster bang in the middle. The speedometer sits on the top of the circular centre console. This is funky to look at and doesn’t take too much time getting used to. The speedometer comes with a large font that makes it easy to read.

The infotainment system is placed in the circular centre console. The top end models of all Maruti cars comes with their latest Smart Play Studio system. The UI is very nice looking and responsive, very smartphone inspired in the way it looks and works. The menu is well laid out and it comes with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Below that are the knobs/buttons for the AC and heater.IMG_1711The overall cabin quality is very impressive for the category the S-Presso falls in. The material quality, fit and finish are very good. The dashboard is nice looking, there are body-coloured embellishments around the centre console and air-conditioning vents. The headroom and legroom are super, seats are comfortable, offer good lumbar and under thigh support. The high seat positioning helps with the overall visibility outside when seated in the front cabin.The legroom in the back row is very good. There’s ample knee and headroom for tall occupants on offer. Its’s ideally suited for 2 passengers behind.

There are 2 cupholders, one bottle holder at the rear bottle holder on each of the front doors and a shelf above the glove box as part of the storage package. The boot space available is 240 litres. Folding the rear seat backrest will offer you more space if required.

The safety package in the S-Presso includes ABS, a driver side airbag, speed warning system, seat belt reminder and rear parking sensors. A passenger side airbag is available as a Rs 5000 option on the STD, LXI and VXI trims and is part of the package on top-spec VXI+ versions.

DRIVING THE S-PRESSO

The S-Presso comes with a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine which puts out 68hp and 90Nm figure. Switch on the car and the 1st thing you notice is how quiet this BSVI K10 engine is  while idling and driving. The performance is smooth, power delivery is good and getting to higher speeds is done in a refined fashion. It’s extremely easy and hassle free to drive in heavy traffic which will appeal to customers of the S-Presso.Snapseed(3).jpg The 1st day I drove the manual S-Presso from Jodhpur to Khimsar over 100 kms. It doesn’t take too much effort going through the gears, the clutch is well weighted and light to use. On the highway getting to three digit speeds was done with relative ease. The braking is sharp and smooth enough which we got to experience a few times on this drive.

Next morning, I drove the 5-speed AMT Auto. This is an area in which you see the maximum evolution from the days of the Celerio to now. The gear box is smooth, the shifts are well timed. The typical lag one experiences in an AMT is barely felt here. The moment you shift the AMT to manual mode, the gearshifts are far quicker,  making driving the S-Presso a fun experience.Snapseed(43).jpgSnapseed(45).jpgSteering feedback is good, its light and easy to twirl around. The ride quality overall is good and over the 200 kms we drove the S-Presso none of the passengers in the car experienced any discomfort. The S-Presso while essentially an urban commuter also makes for an able long-distance companion on road trips. The mileage the S-Presso offers is fantastic. On our drive the car returned an average of 20-22 kms per litre.

BUYING THE S-PRESSO

The S-Presso is an interesting looking car that offers good driving experience in terms of efficiency, mileage and comfort. It comes with the assured badge of a Maruti in terms of service efficiency and resale value.4863E1D2-F31A-414E-AEAD-4CBC58CA2A4D.jpgPrices for the S-Presso start from Rs 3.69 Lakhs for the Standard Manual Variant and Rs 4.68 lakhs for the VXi AGS (automatic) Variant. The top end variant of the S-Presso VXi Plus AGS is yours to buy for Rs. 4.91 Lakhs. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi.

#MONSOON TRAILS – VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN

This is the 4th time in the last one year, that I got an opportunity to spend time with one of my all-time favourite SUV’s the Volkswagen Tiguan. This is a car that is universally loved by whoever drives it…Snapseed(1).jpgAs part of our ongoing series #MonsoonTrails, we reviewed the Tiguan this time around. Over the course of 5 days we put it through different kinds of road conditions and terrain. How did it fare? Let’s find out…But before we do that, lets reacquaint ourselves with what the Tiguan is all about.

The hallmark of VW cars is how simple and clean the design always is. The Tiguan follows the same design language. Starting with the front you have the 3-slat chrome grille on which sits the VW badge. Accompanying that are the LED headlights and LED DRL’s which complete the look.Snapseed(3).jpgSnapseed(2).jpgWalk to the side and you see the silver finish 18-inch alloy wheels which offer a ground clearance of about 200mm. The shoulder line that runs from the front right to the rear reflect  the elegant design of the Tiguan along with LED tail lamps in the rear.IMG_5954.jpgThe Tiguan comes with a 2.0 litre TDI turbocharged diesel engine with a peak power output of 143 hp and 340 Nm of torque. This is based on Volkswagen’s MQB modular platform, making it lighter than other SUVs in that price range.

The all black interiors are rich and premium in feel and finish. The centre console comes with a host of features, colour touch screen, Apple car play and Android auto. The seats in the front offer good support and the cushioning is high quality. The Tiguan comes with a huge and panoramic sunroof which when fully opened offers a great view. The legroom and shoulder room in the rear is terrific. The headroom is good courtesy the design of the roof. The rear seats have a reclining feature with a 60:40 split.  There is 615 litres of boot space on offer in the Tiguan.IMG_5952.jpgIMG_5953.jpgThe 7 speed DSG transmission in the Tiguan is extremely refined in terms of upshifts and downshifts. Paddle shifters usually come into play mainly, when driving on the highway. The four driving modes available are Snow, Normal, Off road and Individual. The mode I started with in the city was Eco. In this mode the engine is tuned to deliver optimum efficiency in terms of overall engine performance. Once on the highway I switched between Normal and Sports depending on the traffic conditions there.Snapseed(6).jpgThere are 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent and Auto hold available as part of the safety package. The Tiguan comes with a feature called the “active hood” which raises itself automatically by 3 inches, in the case of a collision with a pedestrian. This is to ensure the pedestrian doesn’t hit the hard parts of the vehicle in such an accident, minimising the level of injury.

The whole of last month Maharashtra has seen the kind of monsoons that haven’t been experienced in a long time. The roads are in pathetic shape, highways have huge craters in place of paved roads… All this can make driving on such roads a pathetic experience.Snapseed(5).jpgBut did this matter to the Tiguan? Not at all. It handled every kind of road thrown at it with the utmost ease. I was travelling with 3 other passengers in the car, not once did anyone complain about any discomfort. The handling of the Tiguan in and out of corners is very sharp, steering feedback is good. Overall visibility from the front cabin is impressive. The fuel efficiency numbers the Tiguan returned during this review were very good.Snapseed.jpgThe Tiguan is a SUV that offers comfort, safety, has excellent suspension, very good fuel efficiency and is fun to drive.

The Tiguan is available for 28 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the Comfortline(base) variant and 31 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai for the Highline variant.

 

Style & Luxury – The TIGUAN way…

2017 marked the re-entry of the Volkswagen India group into the SUV market with the launch of the Tiguan. A SUV that has the trademark design lines of Volkswagen. Elegant and sophisticated are the words that came to mind when I first saw the Tiguan.

COLLAGE 6.jpgCOLLAGE 8.jpgThe hallmark of VW cars is how simple and clean the design always is. Starting with the front you have the 3-slat chrome grille on which sits the VW badge. Accompanying that are the LED headlights and LED DRL’s which complete the look.

Walk to the side and one notices the silver finish 18-inch alloy wheels with a high ground clearance of about 200mm. The shoulder line that runs from the front right to the rear reflects the elegant design of the Tiguan along with LED tail lamps in the rear.

COLLAGE 5.jpgCOLLAGE 2.jpgVW is targeting the upmarket, premium and sophisticated customer for the Tiguan who pays more attention to the finer details of a car… This is not a SUV for someone who likes to be loud and aggressive in their car choices.

Step into the cabin and the all black interiors welcome you. They are rich and premium in feel and finish. The centre console comes with a host of features, colour touch screen, Apple car play and Android auto.

The seats in the front offer good support and the cushioning is high quality, something that makes long road trips very comfortable. The materials used reflect the luxury that VW is going for in the Tiguan. Now let’s come to the huge and panoramic sunroof which is probably the most opulent in this category. Its huge and when fully opened gives you a great view on clear cloudless nights.

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The legroom and shoulder room in the rear is fantastic. The headroom is good courtesy the design of the roof. The rear seats have a reclining feature with a 60:40 split. Something the passengers over long trips came to appreciate. In a SUV such as the Tiguan, can impressive boot space be far behind?. Not at all. There’s lots of room there and the foot gesture opening feature adds a unique touch to the regular standard. Makes it fun to open the boot without using one’s hands!

The Tiguan comes with a 2.0 litre TDI turbocharged diesel engine with a peak power output of 143 hp and 340 Nm of torque. Based on Volkswagen’s legendary MQB modular platform, the Tiguan is lighter than most SUVs in its price bracket. The result of this was very evident when I drove it in the city and highways. It moved about very effortlessly and smoothly. The 7 speed DSG transmission the Tiguan comes with is amongst the best in the business. The upshifts and downshifts are quick, efficient and smooth. The Tiguan comes with paddle shifters which makes driving a fun exercise on empty highways.

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

I spent the first 3 days with the Tiguan in the city. Driving it in all sorts of traffic conditions was an easy and effortless exercise. Like most people living in Mumbai, I don’t like the experience of driving in the city most times because of  bad traffic. Somehow, I forgot that feeling when I drove the Tiguan.

Over the weekend, I had planned a trip to Sula Vineyards, one of India’s oldest and most well-known vineyards in Nashik, Maharashtra.

Sula Vineyards was established in 1999 by Rajeev Samant the first winery in Nashik. This has now paved the way for the emergence of Nashik to become India’s Wine Capital, with almost 35 other wineries setting up base there. Sula is one of the most Eco-friendly companies in India, with a significant amount of its resources committed to sustainable wine-making practices and ensuring fair livelihoods for Sula’s community of farmers across Maharashtra and Karnataka. Many Sula’s workers come from disadvantaged communities and have seen a significant change in their standard of living through their employment with the company.

COLLAGE 3.jpgCOLLAGE 4.jpgOn Saturday at the crack of dawn we set off for Sula. The moment we got onto the Eastern Express Highway towards Thane, the Tiguan came into its own. It also helps that the Mumbai – Nashik Expressway is very good and generally devoid of heavy traffic early in the morning.

The acceleration was very brisk and refined. I got to three-digit speeds very easily without any stress. The Tiguan is extremely planted at these speeds. The experience in the cabin was quiet, courtesy the well contained NVH levels.

The Tiguan comes with four driving modes – Snow, Normal, Off road and Individual. These modes alter the engine and gearbox response to handle different road conditions and terrain accordingly.

When you talk of Volkswagen, safety can’t be far behind. Their cars are known for being one of the safest in the world. The Tiguan is no different. It scores extremely high in that department. Starting with an active hood that automatically raises by 3 inches in the case of an accident with a pedestrian. This helps prevent the pedestrian from hitting the hard parts of the vehicle, minimising the level of injury. For people within the car the SUV comes with 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent Control and Auto Hold. Auto hold helps hold the car indefinitely until the driver presses the accelerator.  The Tiguan also warns the driver every time a pedestrian/car/motorcycle is too close for comfort by beeping loudly.

Driving on the highways, on small village roads, in the city wherever I went with the Tiguan, I came back impressed. This is a SUV that you want to drive all the time. Efficient, smooth and refined is the Tiguan.  I spent a whole week with the car. It still didn’t feel enough!

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Priced a 27.98 for the Comfortline and 31.38 for the Highline, the Tiguan is for the customer who wants luxury combined with the practicality that a VW car comes with.

Would I buy this? Definitely!