Saturday, October 9, 2010

Smaller cc can have lots of POKE afterall!

It’s a stereotype and commoner perception that bigger is always better especially coming from the accountants because 99.9999% of them are money centric. Err actually I should have put the lawyers as well come to think of it :P

Naturally bigger cc engines should be more powerful and better but on one corner you’ve these German grease monkeys whom given their sense of humor are anything but funny thought since they managed to shoved in an engine on the wrong end and still can get away with it, now might as well come up with engines with all but smaller cubic centimeters but can still tapau others when it matters.

End result is an engine of 1.2-1.4ltr with both functionalities of supercharger and turbocharger and greener to the environment and of course to the wallet too. So it’s hardly surprising that it has been awarded Engine of the Year 2009-2010 on the trot! Or has these been overhyped??

Moment of truth comes recently that I’ve got a call from Francis about test drive invitation of Mk6 Golf 1.4TSI and just soft launched Mk5 Polo 1.2TSI. Next day passed, as I en route to KL for a troubleshooting the troublemaker appointment, a quick detour to FA Wagen Jalan P Narayanan for a quick spin!

First on the checklist was the Golf. Hmm it has been two years Mk6 Golf has been around, although the outlook has started to grow on me but given my obviously honest answer, I still prefer the flashiness of the Mk5 even though nowadays already started to look dated. And if I may, the rear end of this Mk6 is the most pemalas design which incidentally inherited from the not so good looking Toureg which many grandmas will still call it ugly even after putting on their spectacles upside down.

That’s just about it really because once you climb inside the car, it feels no-nonsense, matured and almost Audi-feel quality material fit and finish, far departure than the Mk5. And even the fabric seats, though from photo looks cheaply grey but offers fantastic at ‘home’ feel with good posture and support. Having said that there’re still some parts with contrast cheapness like the flimsy indicator/wiper stalks – typical Volkswagen.

The first thing after I did once fire up the engine to life was to get it into reverse. Interestingly without throttle being applied, it creeps automatically just like the old Iswara autobox which is nice after thought. And when I line the car up to join the main road, the dry clutch DSG seems to be hesitant to move forward rapidly, exactly the same feeling like driving an AMT Savvy. I know this well because I crashed one before because of this!

But once you engage the DSG in manual mode and plant the throttle to the floor, my GOD these Wolfsburg Ingenieurs have nailed every cubic of this engine perfectly! I’d be wrong to say that virtually it’s lag free, far from it, it feels actual, reality, fact is lag free! And unlike standard Polo GTI 1.8 which runs out of puff after 4.5k, this thing actually pulls further up….a wee shy before 5.5k rpm. And at no time I felt any interchange awkwardness between supercharger and K03 turbo, the power delivery is very linear and smooth. Out of a 1.4ltr engine, I shook my head in an instant!

And it’s mated to this flappy paddle DSG which ratios have been tailored to suit this masterpiece of an engine. Yeah, every gear change feels rapidly precise as usual and of course followed by unapologetic farts. And they make a good companion by a mile in comparison to the MiTo 1.4 T-Jet, 308 Turbo and even the one I’d like to own someday the R56 MCS (A).

The ride and handling characteristics on the other hand are all but sporty. The steering weighted far biased for the city runabout, it just lacks of feel couple with a commoner 205/55/16 tyres and softer sprung ride to become a hot hatch nor it aspire to be. That’s Golf GTI’s territory. On the bright side, it soaks bumps remarkably good and more comfortable without getting overly floaty.

It’s hardly a rocket science that this Golf is being marketed to executives with small family in mind, bundled with ample lots of goodies and needed an understated car yet not a laughing stock for valet parking in front of event functions. That’s German business sense to you.

Getting out from the Golf and into the Polo, I knew beforehand that Golf is the better car except the looks which I really really like it a lot. What makes the styling a little more sort of standout and flamboyant is the fact that they’ve taken something very simple and translated into something big. Understated, typical German eh?

But at the same time, you get certain features, certain flamboyant and certain flair that perhaps haven’t been seen in a small hatch before. Example, look at the way the headlamp cluster made up from different material, different colours and it’s also more of mean and classy looking at the same time. And yet there’re lots of layers, different surfaces and texture and that is a very high-end car feature which we haven’t seen in a small car before this.

Come around to the side of the car and that’s where you’d get to see more of the muscle. This sharp lines flowing all the way from the front and comes back and turned into a nice shoulder. Very neatly done and adds definition to the rear end. Same applies to wheel arch, it’s flared yet it has flat fleet along with sharp lines. So overall, the car tad bigger than the old Picanto inspired Polo but looks way stunning!

But because trying to price the car as cheaply as possible, they’ve skimp on the accessories e.g. basic alloy wheels wrapped in 195/55/15 tyres almost ruining the whole thing! God the wheels looked hideous!

Apart from the exterior, massive improvements were done on the inside. If I can recall properly, the dashboard material is almost exact quality feel like the bigger brother Golf and ergonomics like typical Volkswagen simple designed control at all the right places. But cheapness still can be seen on the door trimmings, control panel meters and also the shiny surface HU.

Unlike the 1.4TSI, this 1.2TSI only has a single turbocharger pushing to power to 105PS/165Nm mated with the same dry clutch DSG 7 speeder. And rightly so, not exactly punchy but adequate enough to drive around just like the 1.6 NA with better torque to rely on except you only need to pay RM55 of road tax and better fuel consumption than Focus TDCi too!

Because this is entry level Polo, the driving refinement is well basic. Just like the golf, the steering feels lighter than too light of the Golf for feel, 195/55/15 tyres couple with standard dampers and spring giving a basic continental feel without sporting credential.

But these little bits here and there are what made up the car being chosen as Car of the Year 2010. And rightly so because none of the superminis which are up for grabs in here can make this Polo a bit rugged on the edge when it comes to looks, practicality, safety features and goodies. What’s more RM109k is a reasonable price to pay(….this is until they watered down the pricing structure like before hahaha)

I could have been separating out the review but there’s a reason for that. These two cars hold some of the possible insights of the new Polo GTI coming to our shore next year. A nice bit of kit that compliment standard Polo outlook, 17” Denver wheels and the same 1.4 TSI carried over from the Golf only more powerful at 180PS/250Nm. By then, I guess even accountants would even like it :)

It looks fine until ....
Images taken from Bangau

... you see this :(
Image taken from Bangau

In contrast, to me Polo is the better looking brother

Next year coming soooonnn....

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