Released in 2009 and revised in 2014, the Volkswagen Polo hatch is a class-leading supermini that’s perfect for first-time drivers and motorway commuters. With many of the characteristics that make the Golf so popular, the Polo is a comfortable and quiet ride that delivers fantastic fuel economy.
The Polo comes in a range of trim specs, but you’ll find that anything below S A/C is almost beyond basic. The SE trim is the most balanced in terms of providing everything you need without climbing too far in price. This trim level will get you air-con, remote central locking, 15” alloys, electric door mirrors and if you nab yourself a post-2014 update, a 6.5” colour infotainment touch screen that supports smartphone integration.
Level up to the Match Edition spec – released in 2017 – and you’ll get automatic lights, wipers, rear-vision mirror dimming and front parking sensors.
You’ll get a great, relaxed ride in the Volkswagen Polo. Expect good visibility, steady drivability and light controls. It may not be as exciting as the Mazda 2 or quite as nimble as the Ford Fiesta, but it does have a five star Euro NCAP safety rating and is quieter on the motorway than some larger, beefier cars.
Lifting the hood on the Volkswagen Polo
The Polo has a good selection of petrol engines. In 2014, a 1.0-litre BlueMotion TSI petrol engine came out too. This uses cylinder deactivation technology to reduce CO2 emissions and keep fuel economy high – worth searching out if you’re concerned about congestion zone charges in London as it’s exempt and free from road tax too. There’s not much on offer for diesel lovers.
Starting at the higher end of the petrol scale, you have a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine that’s both quick and economical. The Active Cylinder Technology means it shuts down two of the four cylinders when driven gently. This cuts its fuel consumption remarkably so it runs at around 60mpg and just 107gms of CO2 is released per kilometre.
We’d recommend avoiding the 1.2-litre 59bhp petrol as it can seem a little gutless on longer journeys. Aside from this, the petrol engines are mostly smooth, quiet and perky.
There is just one diesel for the Volkswagen Polo with two power outputs – 73bhp or 88bhp. Both are at their best on motorway runs.
Inside the Volkswagen Polo
From a driver’s perspective, the Polo’s interior is functional as well as looking and feeling good. Passengers are unlikely to complain either as there is a good amount of room for them too.
Soundproofing has been done well in the Polo, so it’s worth calling attention to what this little car lacks – noise. Some say the styling is fuss-free and elegant, others may call it sparse. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it does have most of what you could ask for in a small car if you opt for the SE trim or higher.
Interior colours come in light or dark. The boot size can be extended by folding down the rear seats in all models – bar the BlueMotion 2014 updates. This was to save on weight and improve on the economy for the already super-efficient engine.
The touch screen infotainment system comes with digital radio and Bluetooth. Systems with CarNet allow you to connect your iPhone or Android, remotely lock or unlock your vehicle, relay sat nav maps and even set a geofence for drivers that stop them from going beyond pre-defined areas. The Match Edition and higher-spec models have this as part and parcel of the Polo package. If you want to add this to a second-hand car, it’ll set you back around £130.
As far as small supermini cars go, we love the Volkswagen Polo. Its green credentials and economy are both excellent and if you’re keen to head off on a road trip, there’s not a small car that’ll beat the Polo.