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Driven: VW's rugged CrossPolo

2007-06-22 16:55

Hailey Philander

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Model CrossPolo
Engine 1.9 TDi
Power 74 kW @ 4 000 r/min
Torque 240 Nm @ 1 800 r/min
Transmission five-speed manual
Top Speed 188 km/h
Fuel Consumption 4.9 l/100 km
Price R182 900
Video clip CrossPolo promo
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Even before local enthusiasts got the chance to view the CrossPolo at last year's Auto Africa show, VWSA had already hinted that the beefed up hatchback could be coming to South Africa. It's here, but boy, is it a letdown.

When considering the CrossPolo, the fabulous failing of the Rover Streetwise a few years ago springs immediately to mind. How many of those SUV wannabes have you ever seen on the road since its launch?

Essentially a Polo hatchback in drag, the CrossPolo won't take you much further than a gravel road, but if looks are everything, then it's just the car for you.

Looking good

The standard Polo hatchback has been given a visual boost with bigger fake chrome front and rear bumpers, wheelarches with protective mouldings and silver finishes for the side mirrors and roof rails.

Inside the cabin, chrome-like accents and luminous upholstery finishes keep things interesting.

Beneath the metal, everything, including the 74-kW 1.9 TDI powerplant is standard Polo fair. It may be 15 mm taller, which accounts for the increased ride height, and a bit wider and taller than the regular hatchback, but these differences are hard to spot beneath those giant bumpers.

Make no mistake, the CrossPolo is an attractive vehicle.

It's relatively well put together, offers fair and economical driving to a large portion of the driving public, and the 74-kW version of the TDi is a true gem. And based, as it is, on the very successful Polo range, it should be able to gather a band of loyal fans in record time.

However, for what is essentially a regular Polo with 17-inch wheels and an imposing body kit, I would struggle to justify the price premium on this particular model over the standard car with the same engine.

The standard equipment list is very comprehensive, but options include an electric sunroof, cruise control, satellite navigation, a six-disc changer and 60 000 km Automotion maintenance plan.

Strike a pose

VWSA insists that there are enough trendsetting young professionals superficial enough to spend R182 900 for what, in its most basic form, is an entry-level car. True enough, hazarding a guesstimate, the majority of "true SUVs" with off-roader capabilities would absolutely die at the mere thought of dipping a tyre into anything resembling mud (spray-on will do just fine, thanks). This poser could very well be onto something, especially when the roomy luggage space and standard issue roof rails are roped into action.

Two more things that you won't find on the regular Polo are the two attention-grabbing shades of Magma Orange and Limette Green. Matching plastic and upholstery trim can be applied with any of the six exterior shades, and they really look rather good when contrasted with a darker exterior. For more sober drivers, the interior can be specified with less shocking hues.

As solid as the Polo's position is on the local motoring landscape, in this application, and with the SUV-like trappings, the CrossPolo fails to blow my socks off. As aesthetically pleasing as it may be, it's local presence is about as baffling as spending R350 000 on a Golf?

Video clip CrossPolo promo
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