Friday, November 6, 2009

How much better is a 2010 Volkswagen Polo compared to its grandfathers?

I have been criticizing the lack of progress in car engineering again and again. But now it's time to also look at it from the other side for once. Having just read a couple of old car magazines - something that I enjoy a lot - and compared it with what is published as test reports today, some interesting facts come together.
If you take a modern car like the VW Polo (1.2) and let it compete with a VW Golf (1.3) built thirty years ago you can just see how much progress has been made. Despite the fact that the Polo is almost 300 kg heavier at about the same size, performance in comparison is staggering. The Polo accelerates better, is much faster, much more quiet (by a lot) and much more economical. Actually the current Polo is as quick as the top end model VW Golf GTI from 1979/1980. The Polo even beats a proper midrange car like the Audi 80 GLE (this one would be called Audi A4 today). It's faster, offers more space (look at the seat pitch for the people in the back of the car!) and again is much more quiet and thirsty. In addition to all of this the new car is of course much more safe (with 4+ airbags, crash protection, ESP, etc.) and much much cleaner. You actually wonder why anybody would need a bigger car, given that the Audi 80 was already luxury in the late 70ies. So, one must say, that the engineers did a lot of homework and progress is really well visible. So it's down to the consumer to make the right choice and take profit from the progress.
Two things to also mention: The Audi 80 GLE was DM 17'671, the Volkswagen Polo is priced at Euro 17'250. So, for the today's price of the Polo you would have received roughly 2 Audis, if the value of money hadn't decreased. But, as another measure, you could also have bought a Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 1973, as advertised in the used car section of the same magazine from 1979, for DM 16'900.-, so roughly the same money. Today though you would get approximately Euro 150'000.- for the Porsche and maybe 3'000 for a well maintained Audi 80 GLE.

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