Published on July 17th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
VW India Drops TSI Editions Of Polo And Vento
A sign of the end of the current generation Polo in Malaysia?
German automotive giant Volkswagen has dropped the TSI Editions of the Polo hatchback and Vento sedan from their Indian online inventory. This news from India about Volkswagen dropping the TSI Editions of the Polo and Vento has been appearing on Indian news websites the past week and its is surprising as the Polo and Vento are the best-selling Volkswagen models in the populous nation. Sales figures of this entry-level hatchback and sedan in recent months have been declining despite increasingly steep discounts being offered by Volkswagen India for these two models.
This is what Volkswagen India had to say in a statement.
“We have received a good and encouraging response on the limited TSI edition of the Highline Plus (Manual Transmission) variant of Volkswagen Polo and Vento. It is a sign that our product and aesthetic enhancements have appealed to our customers. With that effect, we continue to offer the TSI powered Polo and Vento (Highline Plus Manual Transmission variants) at an attractive price of Rs 7.89 lakh and Rs 10.99 lakh, respectively. The carline can be booked via our various platforms and are available for deliveries at all Volkswagen sales touchpoints across India.”
The TSI Editions of the Polo and Vento sold in India was based off the top-of the range Highline Plus variant, but was sold for a lower sticker price. Coming standard with a newly-refreshed 1.0 turbocharged four cylinder mated to a six speed manual transmission, this powertrain combo yields a respectable 110 hp and 175 Nm of torque.
Both Polo and Vento TSI Editions also received some cosmetic changes to stand out within the model range. Among which are a black honeycomb grille, special honeycomb body graphics across the side of the car, TSI decal across the passenger doors, black wing mirrors, a gloss black roof and a cheeky black spoiler on both the Polo and the Vento.
To those who made it this far, some might wonder how does news of a drop of two variants in Volkswagen’s Indian line up affect the Malaysian Polo and Vento market, seeing as this variant being canned doesn’t even exist in Malaysia?
The reasoning is simple. The Polos and Ventos currently being sold by Volkswagen Malaysia are assembled in Volkswagen’s Pekan plant from a box of bits made in Volkswagen’s Pune plant in India. So following this logic, when the current generation of Indian market Polos and Ventos face the axe, the CKD versions of these models sold today in Malaysia will soon follow suit.
It may be clutching at straws, but the death of this generation of Polo in India is no bad thing, as it is high time that Malaysia receives the newest Mk 6 generation Polo that has been on sale in more developed parts of the world (like Singapore) for over three years. It has been out for so long that it is due for a mid-life facelift any day now.
The Polos and Ventos you see on Malaysian roads today was first seen locally nearly 10 years ago. And while every other model in Volkswagen Malaysia’s lineup received updates and refreshes over the years, the entry-level hatchback and sedan soldiered on barely unchanged in those 10 years.
Actually, that is not technically true as there was one major change that the Polo received in 2014, and that was the downgrade from a CBU variant to the CKD variant. Initially when the Polo came to these fair isles, it was pitched much like a fancy accessory instead of a normal daily driver. Priced at RM 110+k, it was nearly RM 20k more expensive than a top spec Honda City, but then again it had every thing you expected from a high-end hatchback, including a sweet 1.2 litre turbocharged TSI engine, along with the infamous 7-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
Inevitably though, sales of this tiny hatch were not great. Because who in their right mind would actually spend base-Civic money on a car no longer than it is wide? Thus, in an effort to boost sales, and perhaps in accordance with VW’s title as the peoples’ car, Volkswagen Malaysia brought in a cheaper cut-price (and cut-down) version of the Polo, which is the CKD version from India that is so common on Malaysian roads today.
Powered by a simpler 1.6 MPI naturally aspirated four cylinder and mated to a well-proven automatic gearbox, the Polo (and it’s Vento sedan sibling) sold extremely well, mainly thanks to sticker price dropping by RM 30k to RM 80+k.
It is only after understanding this abbreviated history of the Polo in Malaysia that one can reason why Volkswagen Malaysia is trying to delay bringing in the latest generation of Polo into the country, as the Polo represents the cheapest entry point to Volkswagen ownership.
It is all because of that VW badge on the hood. Like it or not, Malaysians still see VW as a luxury car brand. Perhaps not as high-end as Mercedes or BMW, but it is seen as a step above the Japanese brands like Honda and Toyota. Putting a VW key on the table while meeting up with friends in the mamak is worth it.
Hence why VW Malaysia can still get away with selling a car with 10 year old technology that, although many Polo and Vento owners might disagree with, is plainly many steps behind what you can find in the latest City or Vios that are larger and more technologically advanced.
This is backed up by the fact that the Polo and Vento, in the last couple of years now, have been constantly promoted with steep discounts and various special editions, most memorable is the JOIN range that was sold on Lazada.
Various bit of tact were thrown in with these limited editions, but the important high-end stuff to make the Polo live up to what Malaysians had in mind for the premium brand of VW were never replaced after the CBU units were discontinued.
To think that adding scuff plates and rear trunk garnish is reason enough to decrease the speaker count from 6 to 4, shrinking the alloy rim size from 17’ to 15’, remove the soft touch plastics and most importantly, omit the rear disk brakes and ESP.
As with the reasons stated above, this makes it highly unlikely that the latest generation of Polo and Vento will ever make it to Malaysian shores. It will definitely be too expensive in CBU form at least for VW Malaysia’s intended purpose as the cheap as chips gateway to the supposedly premium German marque. VW has learnt its lesson from the last 10 years.
So this all leads to the conclusion that when the Polo and Vento do eventually end production in India, it would probably spell the end of the Malaysian Polo and Vento too.
Opinion and Text by Joshua Chin