It seems hard to believe that a year has now passed since ESM picked up a very shiny Volkswagen Polo R-Line on a chilly January afternoon. So 365 days and 8,000 miles later, just what has life with the R-Line been like for the past twelve months?
In short, the R-Line has been virtually flawless throughout the year, with only a handful of minor issues cropping up along the way. Here’s a quick summary of what has been good, and bad, since the last report with just 1,000 miles showing on the odometer:
- Fuel economy – 45 mpg is an average real world figure for day-to-day driving, based on a mix of motorway and urban roads. Economy has improved over the year, and longer runs can easily see it creep up towards 50 mpg.
- Performance – Let’s remind ourselves, the R-Line only has a 104 bhp 1.2 litre TSI engine. Yet it manages, for the most part, to be more than sprightly enough for everyday living. It can, if you’re willing to work the six-speed gearbox, offer some quite effective shove when you want to drive a little more enthusiastically. Only once loaded with passengers or luggage do the limitations of the 1.2 TSI unit start to make themselves known; an extra 20-25 bhp would be welcome in such scenarios!
- DAB Radio – It’s a minor point, but going back to a car without one is a genuine hardship. Being able to escape the relentless drone of Capital or Metro Radio with numerous options is a godsend on morning commutes.
- Styling – Yes, it’s subjective, but the R-Line still looks handsome when walking across a car park. It also has a habit of getting confused for a Golf R due to the incredibly tiny ‘Line’ text on the grille badge. No bad thing I suppose, until you have to explain it only has 104 bhp!
- Interior – Cloth sports seats, perforated leather flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium look pedals. I need no more from a car interior.
- Usability – At heart, the R-Line is a Volkswagen supermini. As such, it’ll take virtually everything you throw at it from road trips to Devon, fighting its through narrow city streets or even being put through its paces on a race track. In even the most challenging of situations there is a dependability to the Polo; you feel like it has your back at all times.
- Bluetooth system – Whilst it may seem like a First World Problem, the fact the touchscreen Bluetooth handsfree system doesn’t always work is a perpetual annoyance. Being stuck to the dashboard like a cheap sat nav unit isn’t a great start, and the random blue line which appeared on the display certainly irritates. But its refusal to play music from my iPhone, despite recognising the connection and the songs available, is its main issue. Instead I keep it old school and stick to CDs.
- Paintwork – I always knew Deep Black Pearlescent would be a nightmare colour to keep looking fresh and tidy; I haven’t been proven wrong. Although it looks amazing when clean, that dirt-free appearance never lasts long. It’s also very unforgiving when it comes to minor scratches that on any other colour wouldn’t even be noticed.
- Dashboard rattles – Somewhere in the dark recesses of the dash’ is a rattle. It only happens when the car is cold, and turning the radio up slightly masks it. But I know it’s there, and know even more so that any attempt to fix it would only result in even more rattles! Again, a minor point, but one that seems to afflict every product I’ve tried from Volkswagen’s Pamplona factory.
As you can probably tell, the substance of the good points easily outweigh the minor nature of the bad ones. In a perfect world there would be no problems at all, but the stardom of Justin Bieber tells us that this world is anything but flawless. I deliberated long and hard before taking the plunge and committing myself to the R-Line for three years. One third of the way through that period and I’m still very, very pleased with my choice. Here’s to another two good years before EngageSportMode moves on, hopefully to something with a real R badge on the grille…
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