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Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

The extent to which the Volkswagen Polo’s interior impresses depends very much on how you prioritise style and substance. If we look first at the more practical aspects of space, ergonomics and construction, it is difficult not to be hugely impressed.

There is a good range of seat adjustment for the driver (including height adjustment on all trim levels), good pedal placing and reach and rake-adjustable steering. Height adjustment is also standard for the front passenger on mid-level specification and above.

It is difficult not to be hugely impressed by the Polo's cabin

Rear-seat occupants have more space than you’ll find in a Ford Ford Fiesta and access is good through the wide door openings of three-door cars. While the boot is slightly smaller than those of its rivals (280 litres versus 295 and 292 litres in the Fiesta and Seat Seat Ibiza respectively), the Polo is still a flexible, spacious supermini. It is also, for the most part, impressively well made, featuring, for example, a slush-moulded dash with fit and finish levels not far off those found in the Golf.

All is not perfect, though; with the handbrake applied it is possible to see below the surface trim level to the metal below. The bigger problem for the Polo, we suspect, is that some buyers may be put off by a cabin design so restrained that it’s almost dour.

This is subjective, of course, but there’s none of the visual interest here that you find in a Kia Rio or a Ford Fiesta. Volkswagen is aiming the Match and Beats specification at the younger market and as such has a touchscreen infotainment system with USB and Bluetooth streaming, while the latter comes with a 300W stereo system, but still the Polo treads a super-conservative path.

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If you venture further up the trim levels or dip into the options catalogue it is possible to fit the Polo with impressively grown-up equipment, as such opting for an S trimmed Polo you will find a 5.0in touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, electric front windows and central locking. Upgrade to S A/C and you get the addition of air conditioning, while Match models get a 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, and front and rear parking sensors.

The latest trim to join the range - Beats includes, a 300W Beats audio system, decals and colour scheme and the addition of smartphone integration, while the mid-range SEL models get LED headlights, and the R-Line trim include a sporty bodykit, sports seats and 'race' inspired upholstery.

Eco-concious drivers may opt for either the Bluemotion or BlueGT models, with the former including a styling pack, low rolling resistance tyres and cruise control, while the latter includes sports suspension, twin exhaust system and an electronic differential system.

Topping the range is the Polo GTI gets 17in alloys, 15mm lowered suspension, an aggressive bodykit, GTI badging and decals and a locking electronic differential.