From £10,1658
Clever tech makes the Polo more economical, cleaner and safer, while new engines offer greater refinement but no more driving involvement

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Polo

The fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo has junior Golf looks, but is that enough?

22 April 2014

What is it?

The facelifted Volkswagen Polo, although as far as updates go the Polo's appears to be a very gentle update of a car that sold more than 42,600 units in the UK in 2013, second only to the Golf. Why mess with a good thing at all, then? Well, VW may not have bothered the styling department too much other than for LED headlights and new bumpers, but the engineering shop has been busy under the skin.

VW proudly claims that all of the Polo’s engines now comply with Euro 6 emissions regs and it has culled the old 1.4-litre petrol. In its place at launch are two 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrols and two 1.2 TSI turbocharged engines. Two 1.4-litre turbodiesels, in 74bhp and 89bhp forms, are also on offer.

There will also be a 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol that features VW’s ACT cylinder deactivation when the new Polo touches down in showrooms in July. This motor will only be offered in the BlueGT warm hatch model, with six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmissions. The manual version is rated at 58.9mpg and 109g/km, and the DSG model at 60.1mpg and 107g/km.

If those emissions don’t seem so impressive for a contemporary supermini, VW has an answer in the shape of two BlueMotion Polos, one with a 74bhp 1.4 turbodiesel and the other with a 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol. The diesel returns 91.1mpg and 82g/km, while the petrol offers 68.9mpg and 94g/km, but we’ll have to wait until later in the year for these models to arrive.

Regardless of these economy-minded models, VW says that the best-seller in the new Polo line-up will be the entry-level 59bhp 1.0-litre engine. Put this engine in a five-door body in SE trim and you have the Polo that will sell in the biggest numbers, at a price of £13,065.

On paper, the figures for the 59bhp 1.0 MPI don’t bode well, with 0-62mph taking a somnolent 15.5sec and the top speed just scraping to 100mph. A slug of 70lb ft of torque spread between 3000rpm and 4300rpm counters this to some extent and the triple is happy to be worked hard in this rev band.

What's it like?

Reasonable and able to accelerate with haste if required, even at 60mph in fifth gear and revving with the 1.0-litre engine at 3000rpm. Drop down a gear or two and it feels quite lively, albeit with more of that three-cylinder thrum entering the cabin. Opt for the 74bhp 1.0 and life is more fun and relaxed.

Next to a Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, the Polo is not as swift and doesn’t handle with the same zest, but it does a sound job of dispatching corners without fuss or drama. More importantly for most Polo buyers, it copes easily with lump-addled roads and seals out wind and road noise to leave the occupants unharried.

This is a theme that VW has carried through to the revisions in the cabin, which seems to have enjoyed an equally mild update as the exterior on first acquaintance. However, the Polo is the first to receive VW’s next generation of touchscreen, which features a proximity sensor and works in much the same way as a smartphone. On SE models and up, a larger 6.5in screen is included and sat-nav is a £700 option. For £150, the multimedia screen can also be upgraded with VW’s MirrorLink (see sidebar) so that it offers all of the functions of your phone on the screen.

For the rest of the Polo’s cabin, it’s business as usual, with high-quality plastics, a good driving position, decent space front and rear and a reasonable boot. 

Should I buy one?

Yes, because although its changes are small Volkswagen has left all that is good about the Polo untouched, while also improving on fuel economy and emissions, as well as adding new technology across the range. Let's not forget that the Polo is competitively priced against competition, too. 

Alisdair Suttie

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 MPI 60 SE 5dr

Price £13,065; 0-62mph 15.5sec; Top speed 100mph; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 106g/km; Kerbweight 1055kg; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc; Installation front transverse; Power 59bhp at 5000-6000rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3000-4300rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
24

22 April 2014
This must be the poorest your money to BHP ratio in the history of car. Kudos to Volkswagen if they can pull it off!

22 April 2014
The money to BHP ratio is the same as a Panamera turbo s. But then i guess that also says alot about the pricing of that car aswell.

22 April 2014
fadyady wrote:

This must be the poorest your money to BHP ratio in the history of car. Kudos to Volkswagen if they can pull it off!

And acceleration measured by a sun dial. Who apart from fleet managers on behalf of the bean counters is actually buying these?

23 April 2014
marj wrote:
fadyady wrote:

This must be the poorest your money to BHP ratio in the history of car. Kudos to Volkswagen if they can pull it off!

And acceleration measured by a sun dial. Who apart from fleet managers on behalf of the bean counters is actually buying these?

Old ladies and fuddy duddy men I fear.

22 April 2014
Given that an all new Polo can't be too far away, these are effectively run out models of the current shape. As such, I'd be looking for a big discount if I was going to buy - but frankly I'd be more tempted by some of the newer, better equipped, more affordable, and dare I say probably more reliable, competition.

22 April 2014
LP in Brighton wrote:

Given that an all new Polo can't be too far away, these are effectively run out models of the current shape. As such, I'd be looking for a big discount if I was going to buy - but frankly I'd be more tempted by some of the newer, better equipped, more affordable, and dare I say probably more reliable, competition.

Quite so!

22 April 2014
"Reasonable and able to accelerate with haste if required,..... Drop down a gear or two and it feels quite lively"

Sorry but are Autocar talking-up a VW product again, this is a 59hp car so I really can't see how the words 'haste' and 'quite lively' can be dropped into the review. It's almost slow to the point of being dangerously slow

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

22 April 2014
xxxx wrote:

"Reasonable and able to accelerate with haste if required... Sorry but are Autocar talking-up a VW product again, this is a 59hp car... It's almost slow to the point of being dangerously slow

Long have some journalists relied on vague terms like perceived quality and perceived reliability to aid Volkswagen products to overcome the competent rivals. Now this journalist has thrown perceived haste in to the mix to recommend buying a car that I agree could be dangerously slow and its drivers will certainly feel being in the way or holding up the traffic. But then they must be rather used to it. Most of the old engines were no balls of fire either.

22 April 2014
States it can "feel gutless" as a 1 litre (60 bhp) model, yet you talk about, "able to accelerate with haste if required" in the main text.

You and your sister site do yourselves no favours in glossing over this car's quite clearly inadequately powered engine.

How many other 60bhp engined cars of this size do you sing the praises of?

Where has all Japanese design went to?

22 April 2014
I think this model would make more sense if it was a cheap
access point into the polo range but 13k + is not that. 10k would be more like it. This weight of car really needs 90/100 bhp/tk to be
everyday usable.

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