Volkswagen Polo Autocar Review
Autocar rated the Volkswagen Polo a respectable 4.5 stars out of 5.
So here is the sixth generation Polo, which can be mistaken for the fifth generation Polo, which was introduced in 2009.
The Polo is an extraordinarily successful model. The redesigned interior allows a more spacious cabin and is much more technologically able that its rivals. It also has a bigger boot than a lot of other hatchback which makes it a bigger competition.
Customers who do purchase this car will navigate our increasingly congested road network with such systems as emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control and rear traffic alert, which can detect approaching objects up to 40m away and help to prevent a collision while the car is reversing.
Find out what else Autocar have to say about the Volkswagen Polo.
Design and Styling
The new Volkswagen Polo has been stretched by 81mm and widened by 63mm and has also been slightly lowered.
The old xenons headlights have been replaces by poker-faced LED headlights that merge into a clean cut radiator grille made shallow by a strip of body coloured plastic.
There is also a double swage line that separates the top half and the bottom half. This is very adventurous for Volkswagen.
Meanwhile, the engine line-up is broad, ranging from a naturally aspirated 1.0 litre MPI Petrol with 64bhp to the 197bhp 2.0 litre TSI Petrol in the flagship GTI. These are also diesel options, although you will be limited to an SCR-equipped (Selective Catalytic Reduction) 1.6 litre TDi and which tops 100bhp.
The standard transmissions are five-speed manual or six-speed manual and there is also the option if a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
Although the interior of the Volkswagen doesn’t so much have the WOW factor, it is unquestionably a very solid build, well-equipped and a very pleasant small car.
As you’d always expect from Volkswagen, everything feels solidly integrated, carefully finished and fitted, and thoroughly well screwed together.
Absolutely nothing wobbles, creaks or flexes when you touch it. That Germanic sense of quality is more clearly present than in any others care in the class.
Volkswagen have used hard plastic on the door cards and in the lower reached of the cabin but they're grained ones and certainty don’t do the interior's quality any harm, while soft touch plastics on the top of the dashboard improve tactile quality.
The decorative panels on the main fascia can be finished in a number of different colours thanks to the optionally colour packages.
If you opted in for a more vibrant shade, for example, the Energetic Orange dash pad pack, you will be sure to give the cabin a considerable visual lift. There is also a variety of upholstery patterns, which vary from trim to trim.
There is plenty of head room in the front, and although any extremely tall people may find the rear head and knee room too tight to be truly comfortable, anyone around the six foot mark will find they fit in the back with very little complaint.
Boot space is 355 litres with the back seats in place and the adjustable floor in the lowest position. If you fold the seats down this will free up a total space of 1125 litres.
The 8 inch touchscreen incorporated features a DAB Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, Apple Car Play and Android Auto smart phone mirroring.
A factory installed sat-nav system is available higher up the trim range, but if you’re willing to use your own smartphone data, the lack of one won’t prove to be much of a problem.
The display is easy to read, the touchscreen is responsive to touch and swipe gestures. Dedicated shortcuts 'buttons' border the screen and make it much easier to navigate the system's various functions.
Likewise, it’s good to see Volkswagen have stuck to the use of knobs for controlling the volume and for scrolling.
Despite the slippery conditions, when the Polo was tested on modestly sized 15 inch wheels and 185-section tyres, it hit a competitive standard when compared to its rivals and subjectively felt decently strong and flexile on the road.
It takes a steep incline to force you to come down to third gear out of town, and on the motorway the Polo will pick up speed from 60mh at an acceptable rate even if you leave it in top gear.
The Volkswagen Polo is a well-rounded, grown-up, refined, small car with many dynamic qualities you don’t tend to find in the supermini class. It has intuitive, solid-feeling controls that are well matched for weight and nicely isolated from vibration and charging load.
Pulling less that 3000rpm even at a fast motorway, the engine is an easy one from which to produce better than 55mpg, as evidenced by a touring result at 57.1mpg.
Ride and Handling
The Polo is supple, calm, and quiet and grips well in its ride, it's also comfortable in a way that small cars often aren’t.
At high speed, it keeps its cabin settled but is still decently controlled over larger, longer-wave bumps.
At town speeds, it’s nicely forgiving and very quiet, and soothes away all but the shortest, sharpest edges which can sometimes be felt.
This is the kind of small, affordable car that will effectively ease you through the urban rush hour with the minimum of stress and strain, and to reassure you on motorway trips that it can mix it up with bigger cars, at higher speed without feeling at all out of its depth.
With medium-light to medium-fast steering, the Polo is agile enough at town speeds, with a group level and responsiveness more than capable of making a dynamic virtue of its compact size.
Thanks to Volkswagen's preference for ever-linear, predictable handling, it’s also very easy to drive. The Polo isn’t the most grippe or compelling, but it has better body control than some and a very consistent balance of grip that’s resists understeer well and allows it to build only gradually as the car corners, and only in a proportion great enough to add a blanket of stability to everything the car does.
The Polo effectively does what Polo’s have been intended to do for generations, soothes, reassures, isolates, obliges and protects - and does it better than any rival, or any other small car in its class.
Although the stability control system does have a sport mode, you will rarely need to use it. The system is far from intrusive even when you are driving quickly and it neatly and cleverly keeps the car on line and under control without you even realising.
MPG and Running Costs
The Polo has always been slightly more expensive that many of its rivals and it’s the same this time.
Although, the difference is only small, with only 3 figures instead of 4.
The Polo almost always holds its value better than its competitors, which is defiantly something to consider.
The entry-level S trim can be had with only the anaemic, naturally aspirated 1.0 litre engine - it panders to those who seek the lowest possible insurance premium but if possible, you should aim for one that is turbocharged. That means you will be looking at the SE trim.
If you can bear the go-faster body stripe then the Beats trim lends the Polo a more aggressive persona.
The benefits of going for the SEL, which is the next level up, is mainly for the infotainment system which is included with a six-speed manual.
The Volkswagen Polo's sheer completeness, distinguishingly practicality and abundant rational appeal are almost impossible to avoid.
This is probably the most grown-up, spacious, well-mannered Polo that Volkswagen has ever made, with a breadth of ability that most supermini makers wouldn’t even aim for, never mind achieve.
It comes with a premium price but that can be justified, with the technological sophistication, it’s reassuring on-road handling manners, its rounded blend of performance, drivability, economy and refinement and its perceived quality.