Volkswagen Polo review
05 September 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
|On sale:|| October 2017|
|Standard equipment*:|| 8in touchscreen infotainment system, hill start assist, front Assist, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-con, electric windows, automatic lights|
It's been a landmark year for Volkswagen so far, the revised Golf came to market in February, the firms all-new flagship car, the Arteon, was launched earlier in the summer, the new T-Roc was officially unveiled to the world just a few weeks ago and now this, the new Polo, is finally ready to come to UK forecourts.
Now in it's sixth-generation, the Polo has been a huge success for the German firm, it's behind only the Golf for worldwide sales and 14 million have been sold since the car first debuted in 1975, 10% of which have come to the UK.
As you would expect, Volkswagen has played it safe and stuck to its winning formula when it comes to design, the differences between the generations are hard to spot, with a slightly reshaped front bumper, new fog lights and new tail lights among the headline changes.
However, what is more noticeable to the naked eye is the amount this new car has grown, it's the roomiest Polo to date with a wheelbase that is 92mm longer. Interior space is impressive for its sector with plenty of headroom throughout and space for two adults or three children to sit comfortably in the rear.
Now available as a five-door only, the boot is also 25% bigger measuring in at 351 litres, one of the largest in the sector and easily enough space for the weekly shop or most pushchairs. Around the cabin there are numerous storage options available too including practical door pockets, a sizeable glovebox and a useful cubbie for your Smartphone.
So practicality gets a big thumbs up for this new car, but how does the new Polo drive?
Available with a choice of petrol and diesel options (the exact UK engine line-up is yet to be confirmed) including a new 150hp 1.5-litre petrol, seen first in the Golf, drivers wont be short of choice. Petrol is expected to make up 95% of sales so its here where we've focused our attention. They'll be three three-cylinder 1.0-litre units fleets can choose from, either with 75, 95 or 115hp, here testing the turbocharged 95hp option, which is also expected to be the UK's biggest seller.
The Polo doesn't quite match up to the driving fun and agility found in the Fiesta, however its conservative drive and neat handling make it a great all-round choice nonetheless. The ride quality is also very good, with the suspension soaking up the majority of potholes and bumps in the road, while there's enough grip to tackle corners at speed with confidence too.
Around the city is where the Polo is really at home; it's light steering, compact turning circle and smooth petrol engine are perfectly suited to urban life, however take the Polo on the motorway and you won't be disappointed either, this engines refined and quiet nature make the car an ideal cruiser too, although there is a little wind noise heard once past 60mph.
The gearbox choices include a five- or six-speed manual or a new seven-speed DSG automatic transmission available on more powerful engines, the manual is our preferred choice though as we found the DSG a little sleepy at times especially when pulling away from junctions.
Official running costs are not yet available for the Polo, however this engine is also available in the supermini's sister car, the Ibiza, which produces 60.1mpg combined and emits 106g/km of CO2 so we'd expect something similar here. Although not class leading, these figures are competitive and we're also expecting the Polo to top its rivals for residual values too, which should keep lease rates very similar.
Alongside the Polo's significant growth spurt, the interior has also had a substantial uplift and features a more simplistic and modern dashboard layout. MINI and Audi rivals aside, the Polo offers the best cabin in the sector, while the amount of advanced new modern tech onboard is also impressive, most filtering down from its Passat and Golf stablemates.
A large intuitive 8in touchscreen infotainment screen is fitted as standard, as well as the latest modern connectivity kit like wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and adaptive cruise control available on higher trims. Safety equipment like emergency braking with a new pedestrian monitoring function, blind spot monitoring and a front assist system to help when pulling out of junctions or parking spaces if visibility is restricted are also introduced to the Polo range for the first time.
The supermini also provides the debut for VW's second-generation digital cockpit system ? Active Info Display, which now offers crisper graphics and is simpler to use, with just one button needed on the steering wheel to scroll through the various functions. It's the first fully digital display in this segment and the 11.7-inch screen is customisable too, with a wide variety of information available inside the digital dials.
Trim levels are yet to be officially confirmed for the UK, however we've been told to expect a similar line-up to its brother the Golf, which comes in S, SE, GT and R-Line specs. SE has historically been the most popular choice here in the UK and like before, the Polo will also be available in a special 'Beats' edition for those music lovers amongst us.
Prices should start around the £13,500 mark and exact equipment specifications are not yet known but we're expecting to see Front Assist available across the range alongside air-con and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, meanwhile the aforementioned Active Info Display will cost around £400 to add as an option.
The Polo may not look that different to the car it replaces, but slip behind the wheel and the updates in this sixth-generation car are clear to see. More technologically advanced, more spacious and more refined than ever before, the Polo is now no longer just a 'sensible' choice in the supermini class, its by far one of the best packaged small cars on the market today.