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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 15th 2010
12--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 15, 2010 Polo in running for car of year CLASSY CAR: Billed as a European car with a Japanese starting price, VW's new improved Polo is attracting huge interest among motoring enthusiasts. The new wave of Volkswagen Polos feature everything from clunk-close doors to impressive equipment and real driving enjoyment. Paul Gover reports THE battle for Car of the Year honours in 2010 begins right here and now. The first serious contender out of the blocks is the all-new Volk- swagen Polo, a mini-Golf with a starting price of $16,690, although it will have to battle a wide range of new stars from the boxy Toyota Rukus and BMW's classy GT to the Series II Holden Commodore VE. The Polo has not done well in Australia, partly because it was too costly and partly because the pre- vious models were --- well --- tinny little cars without much charisma. The latest fifth-generation car changes the pattern with every- thing from clunk-close doors to impressive equipment and real driving enjoyment. The meat of the model line-up is still on the costly side of $20,000, and there is not much punch from the basic engine with a bit of steering kick over corrugations, but the new Polo finally shows similar strengths to last year's Carsguide COTY winner, the Golf,'' says Vladan Dimic, product marketing manager for Volk- swagen Australia. ''We are confident that we have created a car that is the right package for the target customer. ''We want it to be the third volume pillar in Australia after Golf and Tiguan,'' The new Polo is a complete makeover, unlike the previous car which was basically a facelift. So the body structure is new and stiffer --- with the promise of ANCAP safety, including six ai- rbags and ESP standard --- there are two petrol engines and a turbodiesel, and the car even gets a seven-speed DSG manumatic gearbox. There are two bodies, three and five-door hatches, with Trendline and Comfortline equipment pack- ages. The engines run from the 1.4-litre four with 63kW/132Nm to the 1.2- litre turbo with 77kW/175Nm and the 1.6 turbodiesel with 66kW/ 230Nm. Both petrol engines are tweaked with things like improved fuel injectors and an electric turbo wastegate. There is wider new suspension, with MacPherson struts in the nose and a torsion beam axle in the tail, with anti-skid four-wheel discs and alloy wheels on all but the base car. There is also a full-sized spare but the petrol engines drink pre- mium unleaded. Still, VW says economy is improved by up to 24 per cent and quotes 4.6L/100km consumption and 121g/km CO2 for its best performers. There are two optional equip- ment packs, the $900 comfort deal that includes rain-sensor wipers and the $770 audio package with the Bluetooth phone connection that should be standard. driving THERE is more to the new Polo than ever before. You see it in the bigger body, feel it in the slightly roomier but much higher-quality cabin, and enjoy it in a car, which is as good to drive as anything in the baby class --- short of my personal favourite, the Fiesta --- and equal to the best on quietness and refinement. The doors close with a thunk, the seats are supportive, the steering is light and direct, and the suspension soaks up most bumps and undulations without a drama. It's a European car with a Japanese starting price --- although the five-door comes from South Africa --- which means it will get onto a lot more shopping lists. Especially with a television commercial filmed in Sydney and aimed at men. I drove all varieties of the new Polo and enjoyed the two extremes, the basic three-door with a 1.4-litre engine and the DSG turbodiesel five-door. The starter car is quiet and responsive, although big hills show a lack of pulling power, and it actually rides best of the bunch despite steel wheels. But, overall, there is a lot to like in the new Polo and very little to criticise. Will it be Carsguide Car of the Year for 2010? Based on a short first drive, it is going to take a very good car to beat it. small torque Volkwagen Polo Price: from $16,690 to $24,850 Engines: 1.4-litre petrol, 1.2-litre turbo petrol, 1.6 turbodiesel Power: 63kW/5000revs, 77kW/5000revs, 66kW/4200 revs Torque: 132Nm/3000revs, 175Nm/ 1500-3500revs, 230Nm/1750-2500revs Transmission: 5 and 6-speed manual, 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive Economy: 6.1L/100km, 5.5L/100km, 4.7L/100km Emissions: 142, 128, 124g/km CO2 BMW targets the young crew with the M1 DIFFERENT: The M1 has giant alloy wheels and spectacular flared wheel arches. AFTER years of denials, BMW is getting close to the launch of its M1 pocket rocket. The German brand said it would never make a full-on M-car based on its baby 1-Series, but the latest Carparazzi pictures reflect a major backflip. Or perhaps a car which is an M1 in everything but its name. The wide-body 1 Series is caught during brisk runs through the countryside near BMW headquarters in Munich and it is clearly very different even from the 135i coupe. The biggest change is the flared wheel arches and the giant alloy wheels, which wrap around huge four- wheel disc brakes. The M1 is expected to get its motivation from a 260 kW inline six-cylinder en- gine fitted with twin turbo- chargers. It will make the car the most powerful in its class, enabling a 0-100km/h sprint time in the 5.5-second range. The Carparazzi pictures also show a much deeper front airdam with a bigger radi- ator opening, as well as scoops to the front brakes. The new boss of BMW s M division, Kay Segler, ad- mits his mission is partly to make cars which are more affordable and accessible to younger buyers. The M1 is likely to be previewed later this year, most likely at the Paris Motor Show in October. PAUL GOVER
May 8th 2010
May 22nd 2010