VW Polo: Test Drive Review
15 May 2009
Author: Hugh Hunston
|P11D price:|| £11,250 est|
|Key rival:|| Toyota Yaris|
Volkswagen's fifth generation Polo arrives in October with increased fleet expectations and promising improved fuel consumption and significantly better CO2 figures.
The new Polo is longer, wider and lower, but lighter, than its predecessor, with an unashamedly scaled down Golf look to it and an interior that provides serious room for four normally sized adults and their belongings.
VW's logic in upscaling the Polo is simple - it creates space for the planned Up city car and should harness the continuing downsizing trend among fleets. The standard fitting of ESP, which helps nudge insurance groupings downward, and the inclusion of more sophisticated options such as the seven-speed DSG semi-automatic transmission, touch-screen satnav and dual-zone climate control will also help in that regard.
Sally-Anne Norris, VW product manager for the Polo, points to the 1.2-litre SE petrol model as providing the initial bulk of fleet business, which as a factor of total sales should rise from 34% to 37%. However, she also has high hopes for next May's Bluemotion variant - featuring a new ultra-efficient 1.2-litre, three-cylinder 75PS diesel unit - which could contribute to a 25%-plus diesel business car element. It promises CO2 of 87g/km, 12g/km lower than the current Bluemotion, and 85mpg, which represents a 9mpg improvement.
The other anticipated fleet mainstay is the 1.4-litre five-door SE. It's classy rather than striking and sits on 15-inch alloys. The level of standard kit, which includes ESP, contributes to a circa £300 price hike over its predecessor.
Inside, the Polo echoes the mk6 Golf, with subdued but classy charcoal plastics and fabrics, while rear room is now more civilised for six-footers.
The initial impression in the cabin is one of extra shoulder room, although the broad central console narrows the space for the driver's left leg. Much work has been done to reduce noise levels, which accentuated a niggling ventilation duct flutter on one of the cars we drove.
On the road, the ride and handling is skewed consciously towards comfort and refinement rather than pin-sharp dynamics. However, one slightly off-putting factor is the lack of a bonnet line or cornering reference point. The 1.4-litre 85 PS petrol unit and well-spaced five-speed manual ratios offer flexibility and economy, with a relaxed motorway performance helping to keep corporate fuel bills down.
VW's Polo has become something of a supermini institution over its 34 years, almost the default reassuring option, and while incremental sales are expected, it perhaps lacks that sparkle or edge. However, as a business proposition, its keen pre-discount pricing below the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa coupled with trimmed running costs should consolidate its fleet presence.
|VW Polo 1.4 5dr SE manual|
|Model price range||£9000-£14,000|
|Fuel consumption||47.9 mpg|
|CO2 (tax) ||139g/km (15%)|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£60/£120|
|Boot space (min/max)||280/952 litres|
|On sale ||October 2009|
|Verdict||Lacks Fiesta panache |
but bound to retain
cast iron residual values