The Angry Car | Volkswagen CrossPolo 1.2 TSI

BY Joel Tam

Launched at a time of high COEs, the trendy and well-packaged Volkswagen CrossPolo misses out on being found in more homes. You can see why it's not too happy about that.

Photos: Joel Tam

Slightly raised, clad with black side skirts, roof rails and a set of rugged sports rims, the CrossPolo resembles a funky little SUV. Perfect for the small family or sporty single, the spiffy little thing not only looks good, it drives rather well too.
Despite only having a modest 1.2 TSI engine, it pushes out a healthy 105 bhp and packs a punchy 175 Nm of torque. That's more than what most people would need. While it does sound rather gruff at idle, and even more so when you're pushing it hard, it doesn't disappoint in terms of performance and usability. With the help of a turbocharger that provides power at every mark of the rev range, this mini-SUV is one fun package.

Let's take a closer look at the exterior, there's a beefed-up new bumper with integrated front fog lights, black honeycomb inserts with silver guards and silver roof rails, all of which have become a signature for the Cross range.

The black lower half will help distinguish the CrossPolo from its 'lesser' brethren, as do the wheel arch extensions and the aggressive 17” ‘Budapest’ alloy wheels fitted as standard. The car also rides 15 mm higher than the standard Polo and comes in a colour range that includes this exclusive Magma Orange on our test-car, making the car pretty hard to miss on the road.

Other than that, silver side mirrors, along with subtle decals on the rear passenger doors to help set this model apart from the regular Polo. Things are not so different inside though. Step inside, and you'll find the cabin is largely similar to a typical Polo. Not that it is a bad thing. We've always loved Volkswagen interiors. While they're not of high-end premium quality, they're a class ahead of the Japanese makes and are both functional and well-built.

Bearing in mind that this is a compact hatch, the materials used are top-quality, which almost justifies the asking price, almost. Well, think about it, if you're going to pay an arm and a leg for COE, you might as well get a solid car with it. As far as small cars go, the CrossPolo is right up there among the best!

Back to the interior, maybe it was because our test-car came with leather seats. You might do well to specify the fabric seat upholstery with a two-tone design that can be matched with the exterior, for example, a two-tone orange upholstery is available for this exterior paint. A contrasting use of thread stitching also helps to liven up the interior a bit.

Time to drive it. Grab hold of that leather steering wheel, shift the DSG gear lever to 'D' and away we go. Floor the accelerator and the car will propel itself to 100 km/h from standstill in under 10 seconds. Pretty impressive. The same turbocharged unit used in the recently launched New Beetle makes 105 bhp, and more importantly, 175 Nm of pulling power between 1550rpm to 4000rpm.

Chuck the car into a series of bends and you'll find that the additional 15mm in ride height hasn’t affected its handling at all. The CrossPolo still takes corners like a warm hatch, with ample grip that's likely due to the bigger and wider wheels and rubber. The straightforward suspension set-up with MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear feels well applied, as the car exhibits great body control and minimal body-roll.

Fun to drive and stuffed with quality goodies in a sporty and funky package. There are not many cars out there like the Volkswagen CrossPolo. It's a perfect little hatch for a city like Singapore where the only jungle we need to venture into is the urban one. Unfortunately, a congested urban jungle like ours employs a silly system called the COE, which will undoubtedly result in a less than ideal number of these fun runabouts on our roads.