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Volkswagen Polo.

It may not look dramatically different, but the 2015 Volkswagen Polo has received a number of important changes.

The Polo is available in two trim levels – the base model 66TSI Trendline and the top-end 81TSI Comfortline. Both are powered by a new 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine in varied states of tune, with the choice of manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions available – more on that later.

Aside from the new touchscreen, the model range has seen little in the way of major equipment differences – the base car still has 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, and the top-spec comes with 15-inch alloys, for instance. See full details of the 2015 Volkswagen Polo pricing and specifications here.

The previous Polo was a benchmark model in the class in terms of its powertrain, and there’s no suggestion that the new version has strayed from that source of praise.

With the new base model packing 66kW of power from 4400-5400rpm and 160Nm at 1400rpm, the engine is entirely more bolshy, refined and usable than the 1.4-litre naturally aspirated unit it replaces (which had 63kW at 5000rpm and 132Nm at 3800rpm).

We tested this version with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and found it at its most impressive around town. The low-level response allows for swift progress from traffic lights. There’s some slight slurring from a standstill from the DSG ‘box, but otherwise the shifts through the gears are smooth and precise.

On the open road, the 66TSI can feel a little sluggish, particularly up steep hills. Where the torque is quite usable around town, it is harder to access at higher speeds, as the engine prefers to drop gears and rev higher.

As its name suggests, the range-topping 81TSI has 81kW of power between 4600-5600rpm (up from 77kW at 5000rpm) and peak torque is 175Nm from 1400rpm (was 1500rpm in the 77TSI).

Without driving the 77TSI and 81TSI back-to-back you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference, but that’s more representative of how good the old engine was. The 81TSI, on the other hand, is a cracking little turbo powerplant, with excellent response from low in the rev-range that comes on cleanly and progressively. It feels more raucous and peppy under hard acceleration than the 66TSI, and again offered quick, clean shifts with only a slight stop-start lag from the DSG transmission.

Published: Friday, August 22, 2014

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