The locally assembled 2014 Volkswagen Polo sedan comes across as a roomy and comfortable car, with a refined and smooth ride quality.
It is quite decently appointed with safety and comfort equipment, including a few segment-leading features.
This is not surprising as the 1.6L Polo sedan is battling in the highly competitive non-national B-segment dominated by Japanese marques.
Launched in October last year, the Polo sedan has cruise control, automatic up/down for four powered windows, height-adjustable front seats and “Climatronic” automatic air-conditioning with rear vents for extra comfort.
Safety features include four airbags (front and side), anti-pinch windows, LED third brake light, ISOFIX child seat system, ABS (anti-lock braking system) and BA (brake assist).
There is plenty to like here, and we were impressed by the torquey 1.6L engine and smooth power delivery from the six-speed automatic transmission.
Acceleration is swift, from a standing start and we never felt the car to be “under-powered”.
On hilly slopes in the Bangsar area, there is more than enough grunt to propel the car’s 1,182kg kerb weight with two adult occupants.
Sporty-minded drivers would like the automatic transmission which comes with sport mode and Tiptronic manual gear shifting, although we suspect the majority of Polo sedan owners would be content to drive in pure automatic mode.
The Polo sedan is a refined and quiet highway cruiser, especially at between 90 and 100kph when the gauge needle is around 2,000rpm.
The cabin’s sound insulation is solid, with very low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels.
Engine roar was far from intrusive even when we stepped hard on the accelerator pedal, and pushed the car close to the 6,000rpm red-line.
Now, Volkswagen claims the Polo sedan has a combined cycle fuel consumption rating of 6.5L per 100km.
It was tough for us to put this to the test, as we are heavy-footed drivers.
We did record 430km over four days of stop-start traffic in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, leisurely highway journeys from Klang to the city centre as well as some spirited driving on near-empty motorway stretches.
The car’s multi-function display showed a remaining travel range of 180km, and the 55L petrol tank was more than a quarter full.
It should be noted that the car’s calculation of remaining travel range can change based on driving style, or how gently one steps on the accelerator pedal.
Based on this, we obtained 11.1km per litre or 9L per 100km.
Although this was a far from accurate test, it was an indication of its fuel efficiency when impatient drivers like us are behind the steering wheel.
We found the fabric seats to be comfortable, and rear head room was adequate for 1.7m adults like us.
The car has a 2,552mm wheelbase and there is very decent leg room in the spacious cabin.
Cabin equipment and storage options are quite decent, with rear reading lights, door bins, front seatback pockets, cupholders and a recess within the centre armrest.
Boot space is respectable at 454L.
For convenience, there are steering wheel buttons to adjust audio volume and select music playback from the RCD 320 radio system with USB, iPod interface, SD card slot, AUX-in and Bluetooth connectivity which is connected to four speakers.
We found the controls for the audio system, with a black-and-white display screen, to be quite user-friendly.
It was easy to programme and select our favourite radio stations at a press of a button.
The height-adjustable driver’s seat and tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, provided convenience with regards to our preferred driving position.
The suspension tuning is typically European, which means it is a tad firm but at the same time, still offers plenty of comfort.
The speed-sensitive electronic power steering is firm when compared with the light steering of other cars in the B-segment, but it is accurate and responsive.
Running on 185/60 R15 tyres, it has solid handling characteristics, as we found out when we had to swerve suddenly at 80 to 90kph to avoid a dead monitor lizard on the highway.
We counter-steered and the car quickly straightened, without any unpleasantness.
Now, we think the Polo sedan should have electric folding mirrors which would be handy in tight parking spots, but this is not a deal-breaker.
One feature which we found annoying was the loud honking emitted when locking and unlocking the doors (sound emitted once and twice respectively).
This kept drawing attention from passers-by, and is also irritating when we arrived home late at night when the family or neighbours are sleeping.
However, we found a great use for this - the loud honking made it easy to locate the car when we could not remember where it was parked in a busy shopping complex.
Volkswagen says this is a security-related feature, and owners have the option of disabling this at authorised dealers.
In summary, we think the Polo sedan is a nicely packaged car with a spacious and well-insulated cabin, that makes for an ideal daily driver.