Don’t look for things like feedback, amusement or light-hearted spirit in the Polo's driving experience. The handling of this car is as staid as the cabin: it’s a long-standing Polo trait, which, intentionally or otherwise, has also been inherited by this latest model. Instead of verve and sparkle, think instead ‘junior Golf’. Just as with the interior, this is a car that exudes maturity rather than zip and zeal.
So, as you would expect, the latest Polo rides well. Partly that’s down to the immodest height of the tyre sidewalls on many versions, and partly it’s down to damping, which is set towards the softer end of the supermini scale.
At all road speeds the Polo is a comfortable cruiser. Around town it nonchalantly shrugs off minor surface imperfections, while on a poorly surfaced B-road its cabin remains well isolated.
It feels more softly set-up than the Ibiza and has similar pliancy to a Skoda Fabia, both of which also adopt the VW Group’s PQ25 small-car platform. Body control could and should be better but, for all the chassis’ softness, it seldom gets out of hand.
As a result, however, fun is not really high on the agenda. The overall softness and lack of precision isn’t helped by an electrically assisted power steering system that is, while just sufficiently accurate, devoid of messages or a consistent weighting. The BlueGT and GTI models ought to rebalance the Polo’s priorities on interactivity and fun, but in fact neither really does: they are just grippier, quicker, firmer facsimilies of the ordinary models.
The lowered BlueMotion, running on its stiff eco tyres and lower ride height, trades ride quality for improved economy, with the exchange most noticeable around town. Ride comfort isn’t the best on the GTI either, although it’s better than many other hot hatches. Its biggest problem is the anaesthetised steering and unchecked body roll; a Fiesta ST this is not.