Monday 22 August 2011

Road - More Smiles per Mile

When Volkswagen first brought out the Polo way back in 1975, it was a spindly wee thing, but in keeping with modern times and modern fashions, like every other small car, it has grown up into a bigger car. In fact the latest Polo is heavier than the original Golf.

That probably has as much to do with accommodating new safety measures and deformable structures as it has to do with accommodating the human results of the growing numbers of burger vans and pizza parlours.  And here’s an idea to save the manufacturers having to build bigger ‘small’ cars in the future. Instead of giving out cheap plastic toys with ‘Happy Meals’, why don’t they give away skipping ropes? Just a thought.

But back to the Teacup Tornado, or Polo GTI. I took it for a run in the near-dark last night in the wild hinterlands of north Lanarkshire. It was a hoot. The DSG ‘box was not as sharp as some I’ve driven in the past, but once on the move this wee hooligan is total fun. It’s still pulling at 7000 rpm when the rev limiter cuts in, but it’s the way it surges through the gears between corners that just makes you want to giggle. It’s just a Polo for gawd’s sake!

But that’s the whole point. With a 70 mph max limit in this country there’s no point buying a V8 supercar, you’ll never get it out of 2nd gear without the Polis taking your fotie and your licence. The only safe way to open up a big car is at a track day.

On the other hand, you can have as much fun on the public road with a smaller car because you can get near its limits much more safely. It’s therefore more rewarding and enjoyable to drive. Having said that, VW say this wee thing will do 142 mph.

The seating and driving position are excellent and the leather rimmed, flat-bottomed wheel with its paddles is just one of the best toys ever. Trouble is, it’s an expensive toy - at nearly 19 grand!

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