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Future models - Volkswagen - Polo - Three-door hatch range

First drive: Three-door VW Polo gets fun factor

Turbo too: The three-door VW Polo will get the small but punchy 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine when it arrives in about April 2010.

Volkswagen confirms three-engine line-up – including 1.2 turbo – for three-door Polo

25 Sep 2009

By JAMES STANFORD in GERMANY

VOLKSWAGEN Australia has confirmed it will offer its cracking 1.2-litre turbo petrol TSI engine in the fifth-generation three-door Polo when it goes on sale alongside the five-door hatch in Australia about April next year.

Three-door Polo customers will also get to pick from a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG) gearbox or regular manual transmission.

The entry-level three-door will be offered with the same three engines – two petrol and one diesel – and transmission options as the five-door hatch, starting with a 1.4-litre petrol unit generating 63kW at 5000rpm and 132Nm at 3800rpm.

The base engine will be available only with a five-speed manual gearbox.

Economy figures are not available for the three-door variant, but in the five-door, this engines uses 5.9 litres per 100km.

The premium petrol engine will be the turbocharged, direct-injection 1.2-litre TSI unit generating 77kW at 5000rpm and 175Nm from just 1500rpm through to 3500rpm.

When fitted to the five-door model, this engine returns an official fuel consumption figure of just 5.5L/100km.

3 center imageThe boosted 1.2-litre petrol engine will be the most powerful engine in the Polo range until the three-door GTI version, which is yet to be revealed, arrives next year.

The three-door Polo will also have a turbo diesel engine variant from launch.

The engine capacity has not been spelled out, but it is most likely to be the mid-range 66kW/230Nm 1.6-litre common rail unit that uses 4.2 L/100km.

Pricing is also still under wraps, but the current Polo range starts with the $16,990 1.4-litre manual three-door.

Volkswagen rolled out the new three-door Polo at the Frankfurt motor show, which takes on the same crisp styling as it five-door brother presented at the Geneva motor show in March.

The three-door has a sleeker look, thanks to its longer doors and uncluttered glass area with ‘virtually invisible’ B-pillars and a more slender C-Pillar.

The three-door and five-door Polos are the same size – 3970mm long, 1682mm wide and 1485mm tall. The 280-litre boot space is also unchanged.

VW says the fifth-generation Polo will be one of the stiffest cars in its class, with a static torsional rigidity of 180,000Nm per degree, benefits flow through to improved ride and handling as well as improved tyre, engine and road noise suppression.

Body enhancements have also helped to reduce footwell intrusion in a frontal crash by 50 per cent and side intrusion by 20 per cent.

Volkswagen says it expects the new Polo to be the first light-car to meet the tougher new five-star Euro NCAP crash safety standard.

In Europe, the Polo comes standard with electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, twin front airbags, five adjustable head restraints and five three-point seatbelts.

The new Polo runs a similar basic suspension of MacPherson struts at the front and torsion beam rear as the model it replaces, but with revisions for improved agility.

Like the five-door, the three-door Polo will be built at Volkswagen’s Pamplona plant in Spain.

Drive impressions:

JUST because someone is buying a small car does not mean they are disinterested in the latest and greatest technology.

Luckily, Volkswagen understands this and has thrown some of its best gear at the Polo, even the entry level three-door.

This means the attractive three-door Polo can be had with a 1.2-litre turbo direct-injection engine with the excellent dual-clutch (DSG) automatic gearbox in Europe – and soon in Australia.

Of course, we will have to wait until next year’s launch to see if this variant of VW’s new-generation light-car range gets a sensible price tag.

The 1.2-litre turbo petrol with manual transmission is a chance to arrive at under $20,000, but select one with the DSG automatic it will almost certainly break through that price point. And still be worth it.

In a drive near VW’s world headquarters at Wolfsburg, Germany, we only tested the 1.2-litre turbo – one of the three engine choices for the Australian range when it arrives next year.

It takes a while to get your head around the fact that the 1.2-litre engine is supposed to be better than the larger 1.4-litre unit, after only a few kilometers it became clear that the 1.2 TSI is a sweet engine indeed. Not in the GTI class, but torquey and swift – without wringing its neck.

The only minor issue was a slight lag before the turbo gets up a head of steam. It was unclear if this was an engine-related issue or the fault of the dual-clutch DSG automatic, as we did not get a chance to test the manual.

Stretching the Polo’s legs in the autobahn, 1.2-litre unit propelled the Polo past an indicated 160km/h – when the transmission shifted into top gear (seventh).

Under spirited driving, the test car returned a fuel consumption figure of 8.3L/100km, but expect to get far better than this in normal use.

VW highly regarded DSG automatic gearbox works a treat in the 1.2-litre engine in Polo, the low-speed torque obviating the need for the transmission to hunt for gears, as in many small cars.

The Polo is by no means a rally car, but still nimble, holding the road well.

Perhaps more important for owners is the spacious interior that belies the Polo’s diminutive external dimensions.

An average adult will have no problems getting comfortable in the back. Seated in the beck seat with the driver’s seat in its regular position, we had about 5cm of space between the seatback and knee. Headroom was ample.

Technically, the Polo has three rear seats, but fitting more than two people of any size would be a squeeze.

Our test car was fully loaded with Alcantara sports seats, with heating function, satellite navigation and pretty much every other option known to man, so we will have to wait until the Australian launch to see what the normal cars will look like.

But going on past experience, VW is likely to endow the Polo with a general feeling of quality and neatness, even in the base car.

From the outside, the attractive three-door Polo is less adventurous than, say, the Ford Fiesta, but maybe less polarising. Compared with the five-door, the three-door has a sportier edge and, to our eyes, looks more stylish.

Its boot is a similar size to other models in its class – not all that big – but the rear seats fold down.

The boot opener is hidden under the lift-up VW badge – a trick adopted from other VW models Our preliminary taste of the three-door Polo in its sporty 1.2-litre guise was sweet indeed, and we look forward to a larger helping on home turf. And to news of pricing.

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