Volkswagen’s range might have become far more SUV-heavy in recent years, but there’s still most certainly a place for its more ‘ordinary’ hatchbacks – models like the Golf and Polo, which continue to be the brand’s best-sellers.
It’s the Polo we’re interested in here, with this latest sixth-generation model arriving in 2017. But five years is quite a long time in the supermini market without any major changes, hence the arrival of this mildly refreshed model.
So the Polo gets a styling update, which includes a slightly sportier-looking front end, along with new LED headlights, which helps to bring the Polo closer in-line with the Golf. There’s plenty of extra standard equipment, including digital dials and adaptive cruise control, while Volkswagen has chopped and changed the trim levels in a similar fashion to the rest of the VW range. But is this updated Volkswagen Polo worth considering in this competitive class?
The engine choice on the Polo remains the same as before, with customers having a choice of various 1.0-litre petrol engines.
The entry-level 79bhp option doesn’t feature a turbocharger and is really best for new drivers because it really is quite underpowered.
Instead, the turbocharged options are far better choices, with customers having a choice of 94bhp or 108bhp power outputs. Our test car is the 94bhp model, which comes with a seven-speed DSG automatic, though a five-speed manual is also offered.
It’s able to hit 60mph in just over 11 seconds, while hitting a top speed of 116mph. It should also be an efficient choice, with all Polo models returning around 50mpg, and CO2 emissions of around 125g/km.
Ride and handling
The Polo is a superb option behind the wheel thanks to its sheer breadth of ability. Let’s start with its comfort and refinement, which are two of its stand-out areas. Even at higher speeds, the Polo is remarkably hushed, while even this relatively small engine has no trouble keeping up with traffic or efficiently joining a motorway. The addition of adaptive cruise control is also very welcome, and rarely found on a model of this size.
While perhaps not as sharp to drive as a Ford Fiesta, the Polo still feels sharp and nimble, and will bring enjoyment down a twistier stretch of tarmac. In fact, the only slight weakness from the Polo is the DSG gearbox, which can be quite hesitant at slower speeds, particularly when pulling out of a junction, which isn’t ideal.
Volkswagen hasn’t made many changes to the Polo’s interior, which just goes to show how great it was in the first place – so the only real difference is the addition of a clean digital instrument display as standard. The eight-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone mirroring is also great to use, while the general ergonomics are fantastic. It’s not quite as premium as you might hope, though, with some particularly hard plastics used on the door cards.
A big plus point for the Polo, though, is its roominess. The 351-litre boot is one of the largest in this segment, and not far off those from the class above, while there’s a decent amount of room in the rear, even for taller adults.
Previously the Polo was available in SE/Match and SEL trim levels, but these have now been swapped for the Life and Style, with the familiar R-Line sitting at the top of the range.
Standard kit is very generous, including LED lights, an eight-inch touchscreen, digital dials, adaptive cruise control and electric folding mirrors.
Mid-spec R-Line models bring Matrix LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, while the R-Line brings a sportier bodykit and part-microfibre comfort sports seats.
Prices for the Polo have slowly creeped up in recent years, and it’s certainly not a bargain these days. Prices start from £18,295, but by the time you’ve chosen the turbocharged engine (which you’ll want) and metallic paint, it’s a £20,000 car. There’s little reason to upgrade from the entry-level Life trim level, though, as it really gets all the equipment you’re likely to ever need.
The Polo was already one of the best small cars on the market, and the addition of a more modern look and additional standard equipment have only solidified its position near the top of this class.
With its roominess, refinement and comfort, it ticks all the boxes that matter from a small car. While quite pricey, particularly in higher-spec trims, the Polo is a great all-rounder that could save you from upgrading to the class above.Enquire on a new Volkswagen Polo