The next generation of the CrossPolo is ready for new adventures. After the successful launch of the new Polo early in 2010, the new CrossPolo is the second model of the Polo series to be introduced locally, before the Polo GTI arrives in the first half of 2011. Yes, the CrossPolo has a cheeky design, unique choice of colours and features, as well as taller ride height (15 mm), but is it just a marketing gimmick?
Lets begin by judging the proverbial book by its cover. The CrossPolo has a more rugged-sporty character than that of the standard VW Polo. An individually styled front apron – anthracite in colour – with integrated front fog lights and large air inlet at the centre, give the car a unique look from the front, coupled with a lower edge finished in a satin silver, which gives the impression of underbody protection. The side profile of the new CrossPolo also shows off a tough look. Black wheelarch extensions and coordinated body sills set the styling. The rugged plastic guards are intended to protect the car from damage in off-road driving and in the urban jungle.
Adding sporty character are the 17-inch alloy wheels (“Budapest” style) with size 215/40 profile tyres. Adding to the CrossPolo’s promise of practicality and more rugged abilities are the silver anodized roof rails, which can support roof boxes and carrier systems up to a weight of 75 kgs. Final touches are at the rear where the lower bumper section is also in black plastic with a separate centre section painted in silver to mimic a diffuser.
Coloured in ‘Deep Black Pearl’ with the satin silver highlights, our test car gathered plenty of attention, not the kind of gawks that a supercar warrants, but rather glances of genuine interest and admiration for what would otherwise be ‘just another Polo’.
The interior of the CrossPolo is standard Polo fare, save for the two-tone fabrics on the sport seats, the rear bench and the door trim. Colour options include Hot Orange, Orange, Latte Macchiato and Grey, depending on the exterior colour – presumably the limited combinations are VW’s way of saving the world from any potential fashion faux pas’. Throughout the cockpit materials are high quality and have a great feel. The steering wheel has a fine perforated leather cover, along with the gear lever and handbrake, while the dashboard has been given an additional dimension with its soft touch.
Standard equipment includes, height-adjustable sport seats; an asymmetrically split rear bench and backrest; pedal caps in aluminium look and chrome on various switches and components. Also standard: electric adjustable and heated door mirrors; electrically operated windows all around; illuminated make-up mirrors in the sun visors; multi-function display and central locking with remote control.
Interior space is adequate. Front passengers predictably receive the warmest welcome, while rear passengers are comfortable once seated, after having a slight squeeze to get past the backrests of the front seats. As mentioned, the rear bench can be folded with a standard 60:40 split. When it is completely folded, the car’s cargo capacity increases from 280- to 952-litres. Four tie-down eyes make it easy to secure items in transit, while two hooks in the side trim panels keep bags from tipping over.
The CrossPolo comes with a choice of two 1.6-litre engines, either a turbocharged diesel unit, or the naturally aspirated petrol unit we tested. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine reaches its peak power of 77 kW at 5 250 r/min and its maximum torque of 155 Nm at 3 500 r/min. On the road the car responds well once the revs climb past the 4 000 r/min mark and continues to pull positively to just before the 6 000 r/min red line. With peak torque being available in the middle of the rev-range, the car does feel a little lacklustre at times, but this is a virtue of smaller capacity engines rather than a trait specific to the Polo.
Coupled with a slick enough gearbox, light clutch action and accurate power steering, the CrossPolo is easy to drive around town. Out on our countries highways and byways the CrossPolo comfortably maintains a respectable average speed, with the added convenience of having a cruise control function. Overtaking or tackling the odd hill requires a nonchalant down-shift on the 5-speed manual box, where after the CrossPolo reacts with determination.
Volkswagen claim an average fuel consumption of 6.6 l/100km, which is entirely acceptable when you consider we managed a frugal 6.2 l/100km over a 170 km urban cycle. Driven quickly by the CrossPolo’s standards, the figure jumped to 9.8 l/100km. CO2 emissions are rated at 157 g/km.
Although riding just 15 mm taller than the standard Polo, the CrossPolo’s stance illudes to this being considerably more thanks to the large diameter 17-inch wheels. A logical concern is a higher centre of gravity, which could take the edge off the little hatchback’s handling. Thankfully we found this not to be, as whatever ‘edge’ may have been lost, is well and truly countered with the larger 215/40 profile rubber. The suspension is a comfortable mix of spring and damper rates, meaning the CrossPolo remains comfortable on the majority of bumpy secondary roads, while still offering a composed ride under high speed conditions. Steering is suitably assisted in relation to road speed and inputs result in accurate changes of direction.
Although our test unit was fitted with the optional ESP system, it seemed inconsequential considering the CrossPolo’s modest performance. The system does however include a hill-hold assist function that holds the car stationary long enough for you to take your foot off the brake pedal and transfer it to the accelerator without rolling backwards. More applicable though is the Emergency Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) function, which together with ABS, serves to keep the car in-line and stable under emergency braking situations, particularly if this occurs mid-corner.
Together with the obvious stand-out-from-the-crowd nature of the CrossPolo, its a car with origins of a similar nature. Volkswagen of South Africa’s manufacturing plant in Uitenhage is the sole producer of the new CrossPolo, for both right-hand and left-hand drive global markets. Approximately 12 000 CrossPolos will be produced at the Uitenhage plant in 2010, which makes each one a proudly South African product.
So, marketing gimmick? Yes and no. Yes, it’s a Polo in ‘fancy dress’. This is no bad thing, as the CrossPolo’s design is both eye-catching and sophisticated in a way that will no doubt appeal to the young and/or image conscious. No, because the CrossPolo has its own merits. Climbing inside a car with a tasteful interior colour scheme that brightens your day, has genuine exterior design appeal and one that offers a touch more practicality and an adventurous spirit, has its place in a world made up largely of conformists.
What we like….
- A tastefully executed alternative to the numerous Polo’s on our roads.
- A premium feel to the interior materials and build quality.
What we would like…
- Considering the price, cruise control and side curtain airbags as standard.
|Base Price||R198 500|
|Warranty||3 year / 120 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||1 598 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, In-line|
|Power||77 kW @ 5 250 r/min|
|Torque||155 N.m @ 3 500 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 11.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||185 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.6 l/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||157 g/km|