What is it?
This is Volkswagen’s latest attempt to keep its ageing Mk5 Polo relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Released back in 2009, the compact VW has always been a firm favourite of ours thanks to its class-leading build quality, solid driving dynamics and high residual values. But let’s face it, the Polo has never been a particularly exciting machine, a problem that VW hopes to rectify with this new Beats Edition.
Based on the mid-range Polo Match, the Beats comes packed with an impressive portfolio of standard equipment that includes air-conditioning, electric windows, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, a USB socket and VW’s well-proven Composition infotainment system.
However, to set this special edition apart from the rest of the standard styling packs, the Beats also receives – rather, unsurprisingly – a whopping great 300-watt, eight-channel amplifier, sports seats with embossed Beats logo, tinted rear windows, a gloss black radiator grille, 16-inch ‘Knight’ alloy wheels and a distinctive ‘Flash’ red livery.
It’s not a subtle makeover then, but it’s one that, to these eyes at least results in a cohesive and rather handsome package.
What's it like?
Having been on the market for the best part of seven years, it’s not surprising to find that the Polo’s interior is starting to look a bit past its best. Granted, it’s hard to fault the practical layout and the use of high-quality materials throughout the cabin, but the boxy and overly simplistic design feels a few years behind the competition.
Thankfully, the Beats Edition does a fairly good job of accentuating what we already like, and remedying a great deal of what we don’t. For example, the brilliant sports seats – the most supportive in this class – have been covered in grippy Alcantara, the leatherette door panels replace dull grey fabric inserts and the seatbelts receive a welcome flash of colour in the form of a thin vertical red stripe.
It’s not the major redesign the Polo is calling out for, but it’s enough to bring its otherwise monochrome interior up to par with its main rival, the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo.
However, as the name suggests, it’s the Polo’s upgraded seven-speaker stereo system - complete with sub-woofer in the spare wheel well - that’s the real star of the show. Developed especially for VW, the 300-watt system packs a serious punch. Admittedly, it’s a little too bass-driven for our tastes, but fiddle with the settings and it’s capable of producing a balanced sound throughout the car. If you love your music, it’s in another league compared to the standard 80-watt system in the lower spec Match-trim Polo.