Archive | Polo 1994-2002

13 August 2012 ~ 6 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report five

Y464 GHJ has seen almost a full calendar year in Rich Gooding’s ownership. Before he celebrates their first anniversary together, he reports on what’s happened to the car in the past three months

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

It’s been a busy month for the GTI, not least as it’s been pressed into almost daily service again. I reported last time that I’d been using the car for commuting to a new place of work, which soon ended. Well, the situation has repeated itself, with me taking regular trips to carry out some freelance sub-editing and magazine layout for Bauer Media in Peterborough. The international publisher has titles such as CAR, Classic Cars, Classic Car Weekly, Land Rover Owner International, Parkers and Practical Classics on its roster, so when I’m needed it’s a 175-mile round trip, sometimes four times a week. Which is more than enough miles to get to know a car quite intimately.

While a sometime source of frustration, motorways see the Polo settle into a comfortable and soothing rhythm, its blend of high-specification and sporting élan coming into its own. It’s improved the fuel economy, too, with two recent readings of 41 and 44mpg recorded. I never thought I’d see that! When I do get bored of monotonous stretches of straight tarmac, winding B-roads are handled vigorously by the small Volkswagen, and if not the last word in sporting finesse and pedigree, it puts up a valiant effort. The steering is nicely weighted, and while there’s more body roll than you might expect at times, it’s easily controllable.

Spending more time in the car has allowed me to notice a couple of things. Firstly, the rear window gets dirtier under the rear spoiler than anywhere else on the glass (the water also drops off rearwards from the roof at a heavy rate), and the standard speakers really do produce a great sound, pumping music from my iPod via the cassette deck adapter. The boot light has also – typically – started working again, after my lambasting of it in my last report. In other news, I’ve removed the red grille trim already, as it was more pink than red due to excessive fading, and after having had both a new Polo BlueMotion and Up from the Volkswagen UK press office, the GTI has shared the drive with newer relatives.

With moving house and the new ‘commute’, the Polo’s had a lot to put up with, and I’ve not helped the situation. Two wheel rims on those gorgeous alloys have been kerbed, at opposite diagonal corners, and I reversed into another car on the driveway of the new house, taking the paint off the offside rear bumper corner. While deeply frustrating, there are worse things to worry about, and the first wheel has been painted and repaired. While the car was in the ever-dependable Sani’s Motors in Chelmsford, the slight chips in the wheel boltholes were touched in (making the second wheel kerning incident even more annoying). The second wheel is yet to be taken in, and will be looked at properly when the car has its impending – and soon overdue – 76,000-mile service.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI: log book

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01 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

No, honestly. 1996 Polo Harlequin was definitely no joke!

1996 Volkswagen Polo Harlequin advertisement

One from the archives today. The coming of April Fool’s Day reminded us of this press advertisement from 1996. Detailing the arrival of the Polo Harlequin special edition, this advert states that the colourful model was just one of several new Polo variations due to go on sale. On sale in the UK not long after its appearance at the 1995 London Motor Show, the Polo Harlequin was based on the 1.4 CL. The car featured its own unique upholstery, driver’s airbag, GLX ‘sports bumpers’, white indicators and darkened rear light clusters.

The car was made in batches of four (Yellow, Pistachio Green, Chagall Blue and Flash Red were the colourways) and the customer could not specify a certain panel to be a certain colour – the colour combination that the car arrived in would be a complete surprise. The price at launch in April 1996 (five-door only) was £11,095. It’s believed that Volkswagen UK sold just 113 examples, of which 62 are alleged to be still on the road with 9 cars currently SORNed (although many cars have been reportedly resprayed a single colour). The significance of April Fool’s Day? This advertisement was placed in the Daily Express on 1 April 1996!

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27 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Blue skies + recently-cleaned Polo GTI + country roads = driving fun!

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

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13 February 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report three

Five months in, how is Rich Gooding adjusting to life with his 10 year-old Polo GTI? The first mileage milestone has passed, and the car has recently been pressed into daily service…

In my last report, I hinted that there could be some seasonal goodies on the way for Y464 GHJ, and as I was clearly a good boy, the festive period heralded new front and rear badges (the old badges’ red ‘I’s had been painted with nail polish due to fading), new locking wheel bolts, new plastic wheel bolt covers, and a full complement of 1980s-tastic black, red-trimmed carpet mats. Very GTI. The locking wheel bolts have been fitted (annoyingly taking some paint off the wheels on the outside edge of the bolt holes due to the old ones being rung), as has the front badge and the carpet mats. I’ll very carefully apply the rear badge when it’s a little warmer. New numberplates in Volkswagen factory holders tidy up the outside, too.

First ten thousand-milestone passed, and I’m still enjoying spending time with Y464. Since the last report in December, I’ve taken a job at a local design agency, which means that the car now gets driven almost daily, covering just under 40 miles on a return trip. It’s the perfect commuting distance – just enough to make it manageable, and not take too much of a toll on the car. Along minor A-roads with some corners which could quite easily catch you unawares, Y464 is proving an able, comfortable, and relaxing travelling companion, and a 70,000-mile reading has just rolled over (or whatever the digital equivalent is) on the odometer.

Some would say that comfortable and relaxing is not what a hot hatch should be about. And they’d be right of course. But, the car can also do the sporting thing, too. It picks up pace quickly – the engine note growling as the revs are increased – and is a tidy handler through the tight corners which make up my cross-country route from Essex to the border of east Hertfordshire. Though not as engaging as modern machinery (or some old machinery for that matter), a 2001 Polo GTI is engaging enough. For this driver anyway. Saying that, I can see why contemporary reviews stated that the GTI was more of a faster Polo and not a GTI.

Daily use is also now revealing some impressions of what it’s like to live with, too. The recent cold spell of weather has seen the air-conditoning come into its own, and after years of living with a car with just a three-speed fan (I dug out my 1994 168,000-mile Polo GT coupé recently to take some potential sales photos, above), it’s a revelation. Shame that the usual faultless Volkswagen interior ergonomic spark failed to ignite when the designers came to lay out the air-conditioning controls in the cabin. Inherited from the Lupo, placed low on the centre console, drivers have to take their eyes off the road for a split second when adjusting the fan speed, temperature (the GTI has digital climate control) or windscreen air flow – far from ideal…

Another foible is that the gearbox can be a little notchy when cold, getting smoother and easy to slot into its five ratios once the oil’s warmed through. The heated windscreen washers have also failed to work recently, though with temperatures dipping well below zero most days, that’s not necessarily a fault of the car. Finally, the boot light is very laissez-faire about when it wants to come on, suggesting a faulty microswitch. But, it’s working at the moment, so, fingers crossed it stays illuminating. You don’t realise how much you miss it until you don’t have it. Overall, though, five months in, Y464 is proving to be a fuss-free ownership proposition.

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12 December 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report two

Three months ago, Rich Gooding bought a 10 year-old Polo GTI, a (some would say much-needed) more modern foil to his 1994 Polo GT coupé. Is the new relationship in still in its first flush, or is the honeymoon period well and truly over?

I still can’t quite believe that I’m driving something so much newer than the small 18 year-old hatchback (despite what VW say, the Mk 2 Polo coupé is a decidely usual hatchback shape) that has been part of my life for the last 12 years. The first three months with Y464 GHJ have largely been spent getting to know the car, and, as a freelance graphic designer, have been spent on the UK’s A-road and motorway network. Buying the car must have been an omen; little did I know at the time of purchase that I’d be regularly spending time driving to jobs. Something which in the elderly coupé, while enjoyable, would have been much less relaxing.

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