There are a few things that spark less joy in driving like owning a car in the city. The roads — specifically the ones you have to use — are permanently congested, there’s a traffic light after every mile, and those at the wheel almost instantly develop anger management issues. As a daily necessity, many disgruntled drivers have resigned themselves to fate, but Volkswagen wants to change the way we drive in the city — with the iconic Golf and Polo, of course.
There’s a reason why the Volkswagen Golf is the most successful car in Europe. The nifty little hatchback has been a force to be reckoned with since its inception in 1974, and over the years has gone on to become a motoring legend. While obviously a joy to drive on long winding country roads, the Golf also stands out for being just as much fun in the city.
The Golf might be compact in dimensions, but its larger-than-life personality more than makes up for that. Now in its seventh generation, the mighty hatchback comes in several trims to cater to every type of driver. For maximum thrill, the 286hp R model is the most powerful Golf that’s ever made the roads. The zippy ride accelerates from nought to 100kph in 4.6 seconds, thanks to intelligent turbocharging from its powerful TSI engine. The GTI does the same in 6.4 seconds with a 227hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, while the base model provides commendable performance with 123hp.
This feisty personality continues within, where in the GTI, sports seats are adjustable to the multi-function sports steering wheel, and as a treat, keep track of your car’s performance via a GTI-specific instrument panel. To complete the experience, brushed stainless steel pedal caps stand out with precise pressure points, a feature only found elsewhere in racing cars.
The Golf also incorporates intelligent driver assistance systems with a new array of features. The Blind Spot Sensor with Rear Traffic Alert system monitors traffic behind for a range of 30 metres with radar sensors, useful for when changing lanes or reversing out of a parking space with restricted visibility, and the proactive occupant protection system reacts just before an impending collision by priming the seat belts and brakes.
Millennials will also rejoice, for the infortainment systems are also updated in the Golf. Besides being quick and responsive — two characteristics required for a pleasant city driving experience — the Golf is also known for being intuitive and hassle-free. Operating the car’s various functions is simple and straightforward, with most of them just a button away to aid in easy driving; even the 9.2-inch Discover Pro infotainment system comes with gesture control. A panoramic sunroof also adds ambience and a sense of space to the car.
The Volkswagen Golf is without a doubt a German workhorse, but it’s also incredibly sophisticated to drive, with impressive handling and lightning-quick responsiveness for all the twists and turns you might encounter while navigating the city.
The Volkswagen Polo has long been the benchmark in the automotive industry for its inter-city driving finesse. By bringing German quality engineering into a compact package, the Polo has managed to become a fun but reliable car, perfect for trips that range from the school run to cross-country adventures.
The Polo might be the little brother of the larger Golf, but it still offers a spacious cabin with room for four friends and plenty of boot space. Comfort for long journeys are courtesy of a two-zone Climatatronic air conditioning system that promises to keep everyone at just the right temperature throughout. There’s also manual lumbar support for the seats.
That trend continues under the bonnet, where a small turbocharged engine provides a fuel-efficient experience that means less time at the pump and more time enjoying the road. Don’t mistake size for a lack of grunt though — this compact hatchback has 115 horses and 200Nm of torque waiting to be unleashed from under the hood.
The braking system also recuperates energy and stores it in the battery, while the start/stop system means you don’t use more fuel than necessary when stopped at a light or in traffic.
Yet not everything that makes the Polo so adored is under the bonnet. Beneath its dashing good looks is an interior that’s packed full of tech. The Polo Beats is the first Volkswagen and first Group model to offer the second generation of the Active Info Display. The 10.25-inch screen boasts an entirely new look and feel, with improved graphics, better resolution, and fewer conventional indicator lamps for a sleeker look. Three basic digital layouts have been designed to cater to any preference; choose between a digital view with a rev counter and a speedometer, one without any dials, or one without dials but with supplemental information.
If you’re an audiophile who’s always on the go, the Beats Polo offers the ‘Beats‘ vehicle sound system from legendary US audio specialist Dr. Dre as standard. The powerful eight-channel amplifier, digital sound processor, subwoofer, and six speakers with a 300-watt output offer some serious sound quality, and is especially useful for getting psyched up in the morning with your favourite tunes whilst on the way to work. Fantastic audio system aside, the Beats Polo is also immediately recognisable by a large panoramic sunroof, as well as its logo on the B-pillars outside and on the front seats.