• 1.0-LITRE WONDER

The Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI may have the smallest turbocharged petrol motor on offer in the country but packs in serious tuning potential!

A three-cylinder engine with a displacement comparable only to a can of fruit juice wouldn’t really catch the fancy of petrolheads, no? But Volkswagen has done that with the Polo 1.0 TSI that replaced the hugely popular and tuner friendly Polo 1.2 TSI! With 110PS on tap the Polo 1.0 TSI is more powerful than the 1.2 TSI and interestingly, the Polo 1.0 TSI was also the most powerful hatchback on sale in the country until last year! And when I drove it first, I couldn’t stop heaping praises. One, because unlike the 1.2 TSI, it can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox too. And secondly, the engine barely feels like a threepot motor while also delivering really well on the performance front. The 1.0 TSI engine and sixspeed manual gearbox with its short throws and precise shifts make the Polo a lot of fun.

So it wasn’t going to be long before tuners stuck their heads under the hood of a Polo 1.0 TSI and juiced it. The BND Race Wars held in the premises of the Buddh International Circuit last month had one such tuned Polo 1.0 TSI catch my attention. Owned by Gurjot, this Polo is a joint project between Silencer House (Gurjot’s own firm that specialises customised exhaust systems in New Delhi) and AM Racing. And like Achintya’s Swift you just read about, this Polo too posted the fastest times in at the event, in as many as three categories! It’s the combination of the engine performance and Volkswagen’s engineering that helped this Polo achieve the feat but more importantly, it had a lot to do with the car’s build is what Gurjot tells us.

His Polo is running Cobra EVO II coilover suspension that lets you adjust height and damping, 17-inch Japan Racing wheels for street use and 15- inch ones for autocross events. There’s slotted discs from Dixcel along with EBC brake pads as well. Under the hood is a Volkswagen Racing Line air filter and an aftermarket blow-off valve from Forge, besides an ECU remap done by GT Tunerz in New Delhi. He has hand-built the full-system exhaust which includes a stainless steel (SS304) downpipe, exhaust piping and exhaust muffler. The result is a 0-100kmph acceleration time of 7.9 seconds! That’s way quicker than the stock car’s time (about 10 seconds) and also closer to cars with bigger and more powerful engines.

The car also runs aftermarket LED headlamps, badges and few other cosmetic updates. My favourite bit though are the 17-inch wheels. The only modification inside is a Sparco Sprint seat and OMP Racing harness, primarily for autocross events besides which the car is stock, though Gurjot is planning a bunch of modifications. Again, that’s the beauty of hot hatches – you don’t really have to go to extremes or spend a fortune to make them quicker.

The exhaust sounds perfectly sporty, but at the same time I know it won’t wake up the neighbours from their deep slumber. The light clutch pedal and familiar six-speed manual gearbox make me smile as I slot in first gear. And feeling the turbocharger spool up and offer boost has me break into a smile. Power delivery feels familiar but acceleration is a lot quicker than the stock car. The engine puts out close to 140PS currently I’m told and 100kmph comes up way quicker than you would expect. More importantly, there’s a linear surge of power all the way to the redline thanks to the remapped ECU. Fuelling is crisp and throttle responses are very sharp. I was also able to pilot the car through corners with serious accuracy. I mean, the Polo has always been a sporty handler but this one feels a lot sharper. The steering feels precise to the T, the suspension helps it hold a line and tyres offer so much grip that I know I can carry a lot more speed through corners. I did have to be careful on speed breakers and potholes, but besides that the car felt very comfortable, despite the firm suspension.

Overall, the heightened sensations are what make the car a joy to drive. And this Polo is again a fantastic example of why hot hatches make so much sense. They’re small, easy to build and a tonne of fun. Of course, the Volkswagen Polo is a revered name in the tuner world. And despite being the oldest generation car in its segment, it’s the finesse of the Polo Mk5 that makes it so likeable. With the 1.0 TSI the car has only become more accessible and more fun – not just to drive but tune as well!

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