With the decision made to relieve myself from the pain of Alfa Romeo ownership, a deal was struck to trade “Snowflake” in for “Baby-G” the VW Polo GTi!
For those who’ve followed our automotive journey, you’d know that we’ve previously had a Polo many years ago, it was a 1.2 litre Mk.4. It wasn’t in any way quick or exciting to drive, but what “Polo bun” lacked in pace it made it up with a charming cheap and cheerful demeanour. This slightly newer Polo though has quite a different character. I even like the way it looks! Which brings up a fun fact about this Polo. Guess who penned it? Walter De Silva. The same artisan who penned some rather the lovely Alfa Romeos that came before my tragic 159, the 147, 156 and 166. He also designed the original Audi R8 but who cares about those glorified VWs right?
One thing for certain with this VW is the build quality impression anyone will get just by getting in is that it’s miles ahead of my (slightly younger) 159. It feels more solid, better put together and for a 9-year old, looked almost brand new on the inside, a testament to the care given by her previous owners. There was a slight rattle somewhere from within the front left dashboard on certain bumps and frequencies but after the Alfa 159, felt like a non-issue really.
With 177bhp on tap through its Super and Turbocharged 1.4 litre unit, getaways are brisk with squealing front wheels constantly screaming that perhaps you’re a little too heavy-footed. Mid-range pull in this 1.2 ton Polo is also strong with a good spread of torque coming in low within the rev range. Push her too hard towards the redline and power does taper off but by then, you’d most likely be doing speeds most commentators on the internet will frown upon.
My car did initially suffer from some misfiring on 3 out of 4 cylinders shortly after collection but a brand new set of ignition coils and spark plugs soon fixed it. My mechanics did notice the valve head gasket might need replacing but I figured one-thing-at-a-time and with not much time to leave the car in the workshop left happy with my coils and plugs.
Unfortunately, I’d have to admit, the stories of this particular dry-clutch 7 speed DSG do have their merits since at times it was a little finicky about getting into 1st or reverse. There was also a slight shudder under a certain set of conditions and at a particular amount of throttle input but it wasn’t severe. Still, a mental note to eventually have the clutch pack replaced was made and to thereafter drive “Baby-G” with a little more mechanical sympathy.
That said, the ownership of this little GTi has been a real joy. It fulfilled almost everything I required from daily auto. Easy access for the dogs, discreet and inconspicuous to avoid unwanted attention, quick enough along the straights peppered with some sprinkling of fun for the twisties, small enough to cut through traffic when required, and frugal enough to not be too bothered when filling her up. Almost perfect.
Which makes this final part of the story quite sad because in the end, after a month together, we had to part ways. Through no fault of the car, as the sole reason for letting her go was financial as funding her for another ten years on our local roads would have meant forking out a cool SGD$45,000 (and forfeiting close to SGD$20,000 worth of current resale value) for the privilege. Which to be fair, is still an “okay” amount if spread over ten years, but at the same time, it was an amount of money that came rather close to something else I’ve had my eye on for a much longer time and would much rather keep for the next couple of years. So sadly, it was time to say goodbye to “Baby-G” and cross my fingers that I’ll work out a deal for what I’m hoping comes next.
At least I found a little model as a keepsake to remember the good (albeit brief) times.