Sundar Pichai: Google rising star reaches the top (like his teacher said he would)

The creation this week of Alphabet has put the 43-year-old in the driver’s seat of a slimmed-down Google, giving him the authority to put his ambition to the test

Last weekend, one of the most glittering alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur did not show up to give a school prize as he had promised. Sundar Pichai, then head of product at Google, begged off for reasons that became abundantly clear over the next few days: he had just been promoted to chief executive, and he had work to do.

The tech industry has seen its share of strange corporate maneuvers, but Google’s realignment this week has to be among the strangest. The company pulled off a sort of upside-down merger with itself, in effect creating a holding company called Alphabet that runs a mega-profitable company called Google on the one hand and a dozen other money-losers and long-odds bets that Google has called “moonshots” on the other.

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On the road: VW Polo GTi – car review

‘It is a droll little drive, more like a delinquent companion than a car’

The Polo GTi, a 1.8-litre engine, 190bhp – it’s as poky as a Scotch bonnet, and as ready to go as a man in a pub whose eighth pint you’ve just spilled. It comes as a surprise to your fellow road user, who might mistake you for a regular Polo driver. But a regular Polo can’t pull you out of bed, while this can get you from zero to 62 in 6.7 seconds. It is somewhat ridiculous – the fabric on the seats looks like the kind of tartan a low-level conman might wear after he’d got married and his wife had told him to tone it down a bit – but it is extremely fun.

You can choose between manual and automatic. I had the six-speed manual: the efficiency is not as good. It’s in the same band as the automatic, but 10 extra g/km will be significant for some. But it is a droll little drive, more like a delinquent companion than a car. It’s about as small as it could be, and pulls off like a rocket. Motorway driving is a blast: even in 6th, you get lots of torque. “Nobody’s more surprised about this than I am,” said my face as I hurtled up the rear carriages of the other motorists.

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