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Volkswagen Polo 1.2: Test Drive Review

Date: 05 October 2009

VW Polo - the new model now comes with ESP anti-skid control as standard across the range.
Category: Supermini
P11D price: £11,820
Key rival: Ford Fiesta

VW has admitted to going aggressive on pricing for its new Polo, in the hope that will help the larger, more efficient new supermini make a bigger fleet impact than its predecessor.

True, it was a consistent top 20 fleet performer, but its Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa rivals both make the top three. Their success, however, admittedly is partly off the back of dealing in some of the industry's less profitable areas, whereas this Polo is aimed at grabbing a larger share of the true fleet market - user choosers and the public sector in particular. VW is also trying to tempt buyers who are considering downsizing from a lower medium model with features such as standard ESP anti-skid control across the range and a number of bigger car options including touch-screen satnav, climate control and the firm's excellent DSG automatic gearbox.

Borrowing styling cues from the latest Golf, the Polo is 54mm longer and 32mm wider than its predecessor, with VW claiming more leg, head and shoulder room for passengers. Luggage space, too, is up 10 litres to 280.

Despite the increase in size, it's not that easy, in isolation, to tell this is an all-new model, although when seen side-by-side with the previous car the changes are obvious. Typically VW, the firm has a formula that works and there's no need for massive external revisions. The same is true inside, where VW's usual combination of good quality materials and logically placed switchgear are in evidence, although it is a bit dark and lacking in flair.

We tried the 70PS 1.2-litre model - the second engine up the range above the 60PS version of the same unit - in the most popular SE trim. What's also clear from considering its rivals is that attractive badges count for plenty in residual value terms. The Polo just beats Honda's Jazz on pence per mile, but the Jazz is more powerful at 90PS against the VW 70PS. Both, however, are north of 40% retained value after three years, whereas the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa come up at 31.8% and 28.9% respectively, which makes all the difference in RV and cost-per-mile terms.

To drive, the Polo is as you'd expect: safe, secure, comfortable and refined at higher speed without the driving dynamics to rival the Fiesta. The 1.2 engine copes well enough as to not feel sluggish, but it doesn't feel significantly quicker than its 60PS little sibling, so it may be worth considering saving the money and going for the lower-powered version, even if emissions and economy figures are identical at 128g/km and 51.4mpg respectively.

Choosing a Polo is now a more sensible and easier decision than before. The keen pricing makes for an attractive premium-feeling supermini with badge prestige and rock-solid RVs. Perfect business car fodder.

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 70 SE 5dr
P11D price£11,820
Model price range£10,035-£14,910
Depreciation£6240
Fuel£5677
Service, maintenance and repair£1453
Vehicle Excise Duty£300
National Insurance£681
Cost per mile28.9
Fuel consumption51.4mpg
CO2 (tax)128 (15%)
BIK 20%/40% per month£30/£59
Service intervalvariable
Insurancegroup 3
Warranty3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space280/952 litres
Engine size/power1198cc/70PS
Top speed/0-62mph103mph/14.1sec
On saleNow



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