Plenty of sounds in new VW Polo Beats

Waitaki Herald - - MOTORING - ROB MAETZIG

We all know who Dr Dre is, don’t we? Of course we do. He’s the Amer­i­can rap artist and en­tre­pre­neur who, while on his way to be­com­ing one of the rich­est fig­ures in hip hop mu­sic, founded Beats Elec­tronic.

It all be­gan in 2008 when he re­leased his first brand of head­phones, Beats by Dr Dre. It built from there with de­vel­op­ment of a wide range of au­dio prod­uct in­clud­ing wire­less and wired ac­tive speak­ers and ear­phones, and it cul­mi­nated in 2014 when the brand was pur­chased by Ap­ple Inc for a re­ported $3 bil­lion.

So what has all this got to do with mo­tor­ing? It’s be­cause Volk­swa­gen New Zealand has just launched a new Polo hatch­back range, which in­cludes a spe­cial model called the Polo Beats, which fea­tures an ex­tra-pow­er­ful Beats by Dr Dre sound sys­tem that is rated at 300 watts, way higher than the 80 watt sys­tem aboard the rest of the Polo range.

The sys­tem has an eightchan­nel am­pli­fier, and for the right slice of bass there’s an in­te­grated sub-woofer un­der the floor next to the spare wheel in the boot. It goes with­out say­ing that the au­dio is loud. The Beats also has other bits and pieces to help stand it out from the other Po­los – sports com­fort seats with the Beats de­sign, vel­vet red dec­o­ra­tive in­te­rior trim on the front doors and across the dash, a high-gloss black grille, and a red and white stripe de­call­ing run­ning the length of the ve­hi­cle.

This isn’t the first time there has been a Polo Beats – the first was de­vel­oped in Europe for the pre­vi­ous fifth-gen­er­a­tion model, but it never made it to New Zealand. This time around it’s a sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able mem­ber of a five-model sixth-gen­er­a­tion Polo range that is now en­ter­ing the Kiwi new car mar­ket.

Beats car­ries a re­tail price of $29,990 which is $2000 more than the stan­dard TSI model with twin­clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that it is based on. There’s also an en­try TSI with man­ual which re­tails for $25,490.

In May the Polo range will be joined by a high-spec­i­fied R-Line model which will re­tail for $32,990, and top­ping the range also from May will be a hot 147kW/ 320Nm 2.0-litre tur­bocharged GTI ver­sion which will re­tail for $38,490.

‘‘We see the new Polo range as the most as­pi­ra­tional lineup yet,’’ said Volk­swa­gen NZ prod­uct man­ager Rasika Ver­slei­jen at a me­dia func­tion in Auck­land.

‘‘And we’re ex­pect­ing the Beats to ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence via the mu­sic – it re­ally does of­fer po­ten­tial for a stu­dio ex­pe­ri­ence in­side a car.’’

That’s for sure. This lit­tle hatch – and its not that lit­tle any more, of­fer­ing sharper VW Golflike styling and with di­men­sions larger than the Golf Mk 4 of the early 2000s – is a lit­tle beauty.

It’s the first VW in New Zealand to be pow­ered by a 1.0-litre three cylin­der tur­bocharged en­gine that of­fers 70kW of power and 175Nm of torque for the TSI and Beats mod­els, and which will be boosted to 85kW and 200Nm for the R-Line.

Polo is also now built on Volk­swa­gen’s MQB mod­u­lar plat­form which al­ready un­der­pins a wide range of prod­uct in­clud­ing Golf, Tiguan and Ar­teon, and the ef­fi­ciency of this plat­form has re­sulted in more in­te­rior space plus a big in­crease in cargo room – it’s now 351 litres with all seats in use, com­pared to the pre­vi­ous Polo’s 280 litres.

The lit­tle hatch also car­ries a wide range of as­sis­tance and con­ve­nience fea­tures in­clud­ing front as­sist with city emer­gency brak­ing and pedes­trian mon­i­tor­ing, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing with rear traf­fic alert, LED day­time run­ning lights, key­less en­try and start, and an ac­tive info dis­play with a glassen­closed 8-inch touch­screen.

The new-age plat­form also means the car is tor­sion­ally stiffer than be­fore, and that trans­lates to a quiet and se­cure drive. The me­dia event in­cluded a drive over of­ten-wind­ing and hilly roads to pop­u­lar Piha beach and the Polo im­pressed both for the per­for­mance of its zingy lit­tle triple and for its ride and han­dling.

Per­fect for wind­ing up the au­dio and en­joy­ing the Beats . . .

Polo is an im­por­tant mem­ber of Volk­swa­gen lineup – in fact with 653,000 sales last year it is the world’s10th big­gest-sell­ing ve­hi­cle. Since the first ver­sion was launched in 1975 as a re­badged Audi, the Polo has gone on to achieve more than 17 mil­lion sales. Th­ese days it is built in seven coun­tries, and we get ours from South Africa.

‘‘What we’re say­ing is that Polo is the world’s No 1 small hatch – it sells in num­ber that are big­ger than the likes of Toy­ota Yaris, Re­nault Clio, Ford Fi­esta, Peu­geot 208 and Kia Rio,’’ said Volk­swa­gen NZ gen­eral man­ager Tom Rud­den­klau.

‘‘It re­ally is a se­ri­ous car. Now with the new model, in­clud­ing the Beats, we ex­pect an­nual sales in New Zealand to grow from last year’s 680 to more than 1000 units this year.’’

The new Volk­swa­gen Polo Beats tak­ing a breather at Piha beach.

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