A Brilliant Polo Engine

2015 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI BMT 90 Advance

I’m sure the 1.2 TSI engine will be continued to the new Polo which is expected to come next year.

-Is Polo okay?

The man from the rental company smiled. The Polo costed a few euros more per day than the Opel Corsa which I had ordered a few days ago. I really wanted to try the brand new Opel Corsa. I have driven the Volkswagen Polo ever so many times before. Still, I couldn’t say no to an upgrade.

Soon, Volkswagen will present a new model. Its sister model, the Skoda Fabia, which shares the same platform, is already out on the market as a brand new model. The Polo got a small facelift two years ago, but there is no secret that a replacement is due. I am pretty sure that the new Polo will get the same fine 1.2 liter TSI engine which I tested here. It comes with respectively 90 and 110 HP.

Pictures taken by Lake Villeneuve-de-la-Raho, south of Perpignan, France.

Pictures taken by Lake Villeneuve-de-la-Raho, south of Perpignan, France.


The upholstery is made of durable materials. It stands well against tear and wear, but does not look very elegant.

Only the rear part of the seat cushions can be jacked up and down. Adjustable steering wheel is standard on all models. All controls are where they should be. I noticed an upgraded radio with touch screen, and Volkswagen’s manual air conditioning, – which was not really necessary in the Catalan November weather.

On the exterior, I noticed the 15 inch alloy wheels. Nice. The pepper gray color (Urano Gray) suited the car fine, and highlighted the new horizontal line which divides the upper and lower part of the front. In fact, these are the most visible changes after the facelift.

-Dull, but practical, I thought. I give it a 4 on Look-and-feel.

Very plain and very simple instrument panel.

Very plain and very simple instrument panel.


On the way from Barcelona, we went up along the C-32. The evening mist was seeping in from the ocean. The scenery along the coastline was beautiful, a lot nicer than the scenery along the highway we usually take, – the AP-7 which has a continuous stream of semitrailers all the way up to the French border. Unfortunately, the C-32 came unexpectedly to an end, so we had to take a simple back road to get onto the AP-7, Autopista del Mediterráneo.

I wasn’t prepared for the narrow and twisty back road. It was getting dark outside. The other cars on the road knew exactly where to slow down, – I did not. Sometimes, I misjudged a little, – had to brake hard in the middle of a turn, or change the course rapidly. That’s when you notice whether you have a good car. Polo is such a car. No surprises. It responded just the way I expected.

The engine delivers an almost flat torque curve from approximately 1400 to 4000 rpm. Upon rapid acceleration from a standstill, you can easily hear when the turbo is active. The good torque gave me a feeling of driving a bigger engine – at least larger than the 1.2 liter. During active driving, it is necessary to use the gear lever frequently to keep the engine where the good torque is. Therefore, under rapid accelerations, there is no point in dragging the engine to its full revs. The 5 speed transmission is precise and quick. I recon the 1.2 liter engine must be the best engine you can get in a Polo. It sure offers a lot of fun once you have become familiar with it.

Practical, durable, perhaps - but not very elegant.

Practical, durable, perhaps – but not very elegant.


polo-tsi-90-360-5The seating comfort is no way up to the Peugeot 208 we tested a few weeks ago. You need a bit of luck to find a decent seating position as the seat’s height adjustment just raises the rear part of the cushion. Still, I managed to find a good position.

I noticed that Volkswagen managed to reduce a lot of road noise from the cabin. The TSI engine makes a very pleasant sound, even when pressed, except from standstill. In the 1-2 seconds it takes for the turbo to kick in, the engine sounds a bit unhealthy, – like it’s not working on all four cylinders.

Talking about sound, I would like to mention the radio which I believe has been upgraded with the facelift, too. It had a very good sound and a very easy-to-use touch-screen.

Room for groceries from the supermarket.

Room for groceries from the supermarket.


As long as you don’t drive with straight arms and legs, 4 guys can easily fit into this car for a long journey. If you put 5 guys into the car, it will be a bit cramped inside, but may work fine on smaller trips. I am 1.88 meters (6 feet 7”) and was able to sit quite well in the backseat behind myself at the wheel.

With folded down seats, you get a large area for baggage, but with the seats upraised, you only have a total of 280 liters available. That is normal for its class, but not enough luggage space for 4 guys on a week’s trip.

I like the color - Urano Gray - and the wheels.

I like the color – Urano Gray – and the wheels.


The Polo is probably one of the best in its class when it comes to active safety, the kind of safety that helps the driver avoid accidents. I would particularly emphasize the car’s good braking performance. This applies only to models with 90 or more HP, which have disc brakes both front and rear. The 3-cylinder models are equipped with simpler drum brakes on the rear wheels, probably to cut costs. I think it is unwise of Volkswagen to save money on brakes.

Polo scored high in NCAP when it was introduced in 2009 and still holds up with the latest cars. Deactivateable passenger airbag and ISOFIX for child seats. New models (after the facelift) can be ordered with Adaptive Cruise Control at only NOK 2,200.

Interior is practical and tidy - typical for a german car?

Interior is practical and tidy – typical for a german car?


Our Polo with 90 horses costs NOK 212,800 in the Highline edition. That’s a lot of driving pleasure for the money. For NOK 7,000 more, you get the 110 HP engine. That engine has become quite popular in the Golf/Rabbit too.

If you are thinking of buying a Polo, I strongly recommend Volkswagens automatic transmission DSG. 1.2 TSI with DSG is a fantastic drivetrain, both with 90 and 110 HP.

I am sure it is possible to run well under half a liter per 10 kilometers on our test car. After 10 days of driving, I must admit that I never did any actual measurements. I experienced the fuel consumption as next to nothing all the time, and do not doubt the stated consumption figures: 0.60 (city) and 0.40 (highway). The fuel tank holds only 45 liters, but that still gives an OK range. Our car had engine stop & start, and a recuperation of energy generated from the brakes. The energy is transformed into electricity, so every time you use the brakes, the battery is being recharged.

If you buy a Polo today, you should expect a slightly higher loss of value the first years because of the new model. Prises on the outbound Polo seems very affordable right now, at least compared to its bigger brother, the Golf/Rabbit.

I should point out that Volkswagen’s emission scandal also may affect the TSI models.

Until the next scandal, I think the 1.2 TSI is a brilliant Polo engine …

⦁ The torque of the small engine
⦁ Very good and safe road handling
⦁ Low noise for a small car

⦁ Nothing special

Sunset at the Lake Villeneuve-de-la-Raho. You can take a nice walk around the lake.

Sunset at the Lake Villeneuve-de-la-Raho. You can take a nice walk around the lake.

Another picture taken on our way back to the Polo.

Another picture taken on our way back to the Polo.


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