First drive: 2013 Volkswagen Polo Sedan at Yas Marina Abu Dhabi

First drive: 2013 Volkswagen Polo Sedan at Yas Marina Abu Dhabi

Volkswagen recently held a mega event for media, dealer staff and fleet customers last week at the Yas Marina circuit to celebrate their best ever sales period in the Middle East, witnessing 22% growth for 2012 over last year. The event consisted of an overnight stay at the Yas Viceroy hotel with various activities the next morning, such as track time with the VW Scirocco, drag time with the VW Passat CC, and skid-pad time with the VW Golf GTI. Now, the problem with attending a mega event means that there is a lot of standing around doing nothing, with limited seat time in the actual cars. Still, the most interesting thing we got out of it was our first wheel-time with the 2013 Volkswagen Polo Sedan.

The VW Polo was discontinued years ago in the GCC due to slow sales, not least of which due to its relatively high price for what is essentially a sub-compact. Back then, the European-built runabout was only available as a hatchback, and still is in Europe. Now for this year, the VW Polo started being built in India as a sedan for that market, and it is this car that is being shipped to the UAE and neighbouring Gulf countries.

The transformation from the slightly-premium European Polo hatch to the more-affordable Indian Polo sedan hasn’t been particularly kind. The shape is tall and awkward, while the interior is as cheap as it can get in this segment. We have no clue whether the Indian factories follow the same quality standards as the European factories, but at first glance, the build quality looks fine.

The cabin looks very Golf-like at first, but start touching the surfaces and it’s all hard plastic. Even the armrests are just a thin layer of cloth wrapping a hard surface, and the only bits of padding were on the leatherette steering wheel, the cloth seats and surprisingly, the leatherette handbrake lever. There are also a pretty LCD screen within the gauges, while all other controls are nicely laid out, from what we can remember of our 2-minute test drive.

But damn is it spacious. The Polo Sedan follows the same philosophy as the Jetta and the Passat, which is to cut costs some ways and make the car larger than anything else in its class. So it is superbly spacious for a sub-compact, even in the back.

In our brief round that involved driving through a pool of water after having the rear wheels “kicked” from the side by a mechanical contraption, we were told that this was a demonstration of the stability control systems of all the VW cars. I skipped the other cars and chose to drive the Polo. Indeed, after getting “kicked” at around 30 kph, I brought the little sedan back under control very easily. It’s only later that I realised, after reading the spec sheets, that the Polo doesn’t even have stability control. So the car was controllable simply because it was an easy handler.

Also, on the dry parts of the skid pad, the fully-adjustable steering felt reasonably sharp but offering an isolated feel, sort of like what you’d expect from luxury sedans. So it felt like driving a larger car. The 105 hp engine was as buzzy as expected in this class, while the ABS-assisted brakes are better than what the Japanese offer, even if they’re still drums in the back.

That’s about as much as we took from that brief sojourn, but it seemed impressive enough for a car that will compete against the likes of the Toyota Yaris, the Nissan Sunny and the Kia Rio. The only issue we can foresee is a base price that starts at where the others top out. We’re not sure how it rides on the road, but pricing will always be a big deal for buyers in this segment.

For detailed specs and prices, visit the Volkswagen Polo buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. This pricing issue is absolutely true!! I would never consider this over rivals simply because of that fact. they should think of atleast increasing the spec sheet features to make competition possible. Otherwise the standard VW 15k servicing is great for fleet vehicles!

  2. And of course, servicing and spares will cost as much as other luxury car makers whilst being great friends with the garage man. Volkswagen needs to build quality cars with their own standards rather than trying to market a car a certain way to the population. I have no idea how they are the largest selling car maker in Europe. Thankfully, in the GCC the market is not fooled by “German engineering” marketing

  3. They should sell the Polo Gti here for around AED 90k!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Kia Rio should be a better option than this junkie. It is cheaper, got a smaller engine, slightly more Hp if less on the torque, better looks, loaded with much more features and turns heads way better. Other than the fact the VW’s got the 6 speed, i don’t see any reason that they should price this car at 60k thats not even truly German now. Pay 15k more and get an Altima for that matter.

  5. But this is indian built, with shits on it, it got tires which got heat range B , speed limit T, this car is not GCC specs certainly…

  6. I just got this car for 55k in an offer for 2 days….this car is amazing…something u can never feel when you sit in a yaris(which i was planning to buy)or its competitors like kia rio/nissan sunny etc it feels luxury when you sit inside secondly the car drives really smoothly and it getting more smooth as i have driven 4000 kms now…this car has its own class seriously!!
    secondly i got 3yrz warranty plus 3 services free till 45000 kms…all my friends and office colleagues are really impressed with my car…its a little luxury for a little price tag!

  7. I have this car back in India, it handles very well even at speeds of 140+, brakes are just ok. Windnoise is greatly reduced. Mine has a diesel engine which is the best of class, the petrol engine is learnt unimpressive. It is 100 times better than Yaris, City and Aveo.

  8. German quality is german quality and nobody can match with their extremely high quality standards.I have VW Polo 2005 with more than 300,000 km on board and still running in perfect conditions, lonely probem, same as mostly of european cars , is the AC machine, which can be and MUST be serviced properly always.
    In my home country i saw many VW cars with more than 1 MILION km on board, without big mechanical issues. Now I am planning to get this new model VW Polo of course ,I will never drive a japanese or koreean car, even if the dealer will give me that car brand new free of charge. Few times i was travelling as passanger in japanese and koreean cars and lonely thing that I remember is the incredible narrowness, even in big size models.
    After travelling of not more than 100-150 km I feeel same as I get paralised in those extremely narrow and unconfortable asian cars .

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