Long-ter­m­ers

Car (South Africa) - - CREDITS - Driver: Nikesh Koover­jee Nikeshkoov­er­jee

There was an air of mild concern when I told my girl­friend my next long-ter­mer would be a VW Polo. She’s well aware of the kerb­side ap­peal of this B-seg­ment hatch. Would I at­tract too much at­ten­tion? When I in­formed her a Trend­line was on the way, she re­laxed: you’re only “some­one” if you cruise about in a more pres­ti­gious Com­fort­line or High­line model.

That do­mes­tic seren­ity was short-lived when I pulled into the drive­way in this strik­ing Reef

Blue metal­lic ver­sion fit­ted with a set of op­tional 15-inch al­loy wheels, seem­ingly ap­ing one of the more pre­mium mod­els. The Polo Trend­line is not a car that in­stantly stands out in a crowd – there are sim­ply too many of them around – but, on closer in­spec­tion, its up­mar­ket per­sona is quite clear. Greet­ing my other half with my R50 hair­cut and half-ironed T-shirt, how­ever, it was ob­vi­ous the car was do­ing most of the work when it came to set­ting an im­age.

The Polo hatch is well loved by South Africans. Along with its Vivo coun­ter­part, it tops the sales charts monthly. There are many rea­sons for its ap­peal. For starters, it’s a proudly South African prod­uct we’ve as­sem­bled since 1996. It also of­fers im­pres­sive value. The model we’ve been as­signed bears a price tag of R256 400 and, with that, you get all the essen­tials and a turbo-triple 1,0-litre en­gine linked to a five-speed man­ual gearbox. We’ve held the Polo in high re­gard since it was launched. Now it’s time for us to see what it’s like to live with.

Our unit fea­tures ad­di­tional items such as cruise con­trol, a mul­ti­func­tion leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel, park dis­tance con­trol, au­to­matic head­lamps and that set of 15-inch al­loy wheels. All of these add R18 850 to the base price. While elec­tri­cally ad­justable mir­rors and rear win­dows are ab­sent, Trend­line in­cor­po­rates safety essen­tials such as cur­tain airbags, ESC and hill-start as­sist.

It’s been an en­joy­able first month thanks to the Polo’s re­fined cabin and dy­namic chas­sis (the per­son­al­ity traits of the cheekier GTI clearly fil­ter down the range).

The only draw­backs so far are turbo lag – which should be­come less of an issue as I fa­mil­iarise my­self with the man­ual trans­mis­sion and work around the de­lay in re­sponse – and it’s a bit heavy on fuel when com­mut­ing.

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