It might be hard to spot the changes to VW’s latest Polo refresh, but the update has given the model range some added driver safety technology as standard, as well as tweaking its engine line-up.

Small-capacity petrol engines are establishing a firm grip in smaller cars, and VW’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol is the strongest engine for sales, but the diesel will be important for those looking at running costs.

The pick of the engines is actually the petrol 88hp 1.2 TSI, which has the same power output as the 1.4-litre diesel tested here, but the delivery is much smoother and it feels a lot more refined. Bluemotion technology is used across the range in the revised Polo, with battery energy recuperation and stop-start helping to improve efficiency.

When compared against its closest diesel rivals, the Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic Zetec is a strong competitor and can match the Polo at the same BIK 14% band, but the Ford is slightly cheaper at £37 a month, with the Polo at £39. The Fiesta has a better insurance category rating of 12 compared with the Polo’s 14.

There isn’t much in it when it comes to cost per mile, and 36.5ppm for the Polo is just beaten by the Fiesta’s 35.5ppm. The Vauxhall Corsa, meanwhile, is hammered due to its RVs, meaning it is actually the most expensive of the three to run per mile at 41.5p.

The Polo gets a good standard of standard spec, and VW’s update means all models come with electronic stability control (ESC), hill hold and automatic post-collision braking system.

VW has also upgraded its infotainment system so all Polos get Bluetooth connectivity, USB media auxiliary, 5-inch colour touch screen (upgraded to 6.5 inch on the SEL trim tested here) and digital radio. If you add the £700 satnav, there’s also a two-finger zoom function (like on a smartphone) so it makes it a bit easier to use.

P11D price £16,695
Model price range £11,100-£19,715
Residual value 40.1%
Depreciat­ion £9995
Fuel £4466
Service, maintenance and repair £1673
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £1037
Cost per mile 36.5p
Fuel consumption 83.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 88g/km (14%)
BIK 20/40% per month £39/£78
Service interval 10,000mls
Insurance (1-50) group 14
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 280/952 litres
Engine size/power 1395cc/88hp
Top speed/0-60mph 114mph/10.9secs
On sale July 2014