From £10,165
Entry level Polo is in no way an inferior choice

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Polo

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

Mark Tisshaw
3 October 2009

What is it?

This is the new entry-level model to the fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo range. It gets a 59bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine, which produces 80lb ft of torque and can get it from 0-62mph in 16.1secs.

VW expects this model to be the biggest seller in the range, with SE trim being the most popular trim level. The model tested here is kitted out in VW’s new Moda trim level, which it hopes will attract new younger buyers to the Polo away from its traditional middle England market.

It gets the same equipment as the SE (minus air-con, which is an option) for the same price, but it comes with sportier alloys, rear privacy glass, new front fog lights and iPod connectivity.

What’s it like?

Despite its low 59bhp power output and seemingly slow 0-62mph time, this doesn’t feel like a car lacking too badly in performance. Off the line, it initially pulls well and it’s perfect for nipping around town in. The three-cylinder engine has character and makes a satisfying whine if you really push it on B-roads.

Motorway driving too is a hassle-free experience, as its peak 80lb ft torque is available at 3000rpm. Keeping up with the traffic is not an issue, although things under the bonnet can get noisy when pushing on at motorway speeds. Thankfully, the engine noise isn’t added to by wind or tyre roar so it has the grown-up capabilities to go with its quasi-Golf styling and more premium feel.

Where this car surprisingly impresses though is on aforementioned B-roads. This is in no way a hot hatch or even a warm one, but its lightweight, excellent brakes and smooth gearchange always raise a smile when scurrying across country. Peak power comes at 5200rpm, so keep the revs up and it possible to have a bit of fun you wouldn’t necessarily expect when checking out the spec sheet.

The ride is particularly soft and supple, both around town and out on B-roads, which makes the cabin a comfortable place to be. Minor imperfections hardly even register, while even rougher surfaces do little to trouble the Polo. One criticism of the generally slick overall package is the electric power steering, which is largely devoid of the sufficient feel required to fully involve the driver.

Its interior is generally excellent, with cabin materials for the class being beyond reproach. A good driving position is easy to find with a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable seats. And there’s enough space in the back for rear passengers to be comfortable (especially in this five-door model), which you’d expect from a car that seemingly grows ever nearer to the Golf in size. Interior styling is far more conservative than the Fiesta, however, and it’s probably best described as ‘safe’.

Should I buy one?

There’s certainly enough here to suggest that VW won’t be far off in its guess that this Polo will be the best seller. This model is most likely to be used as an urban runabout and at that it excels. But its accomplished levels of performance, refinement, and character, as well as its ability to raise the odd smile, will also please those venturing outside the city.

The claimed combine fuel economy figure of 51.4mpg is achievable when driven sensibly, although its CO2 emissions of 128g/km are a touch disappointing.

Our test car’s Moda trim may be aimed at the younger audience, but with such conservative interior and exterior styling, it’s unlikely some new alloys, a new connector and fog lights will win over many younger buyers. Therefore, as VW expects, the SE model is likely to remain the strongest seller.

But in this guise, the Polo remains a mature and refined choice and one which certainly makes a strong case in the crowded supermini segment.

Join the debate

Comments
39

7 October 2009

11k for a car with no Aircon, and that slow! I think there are wiser ways to spend your money

7 October 2009

[quote artill]

11k for a car with no Aircon, and that slow! I think there are wiser ways to spend your money

[/quote]

Yeah like buying a used diesel Mercedes! :D

7 October 2009

[quote Topkat]Yeah like buying a used diesel Mercedes! :D[/quote] Got some news that will make you happy Top Kat my dad has ordered a new C220 CDI Sport to replace his E280 CDI Sport. Should be arriving end of this month. Looks like a nice car just hope the interior is nice as the new MK6 Golf :)

7 October 2009

[quote artill]11k for a car with no Aircon, and that slow! I think there are wiser ways to spend your money[/quote]

I would take Kia Soul over this overpriced VW any day - 124 bhp, aircon, 6 airbags, stereo, ESP, originality... All for 11k

7 October 2009

[quote artill]11k for a car with no Aircon, and that slow! I think there are wiser ways to spend your money [/quote]

Air con and a fast 0-60 aren't necessary to everyone...

7 October 2009

Sadly many cars ventilation systems are now designed that you have air con, and demisting the screen can be near impossible without it, so i would question that, but if you dont want it, and are happy with a slow car, then you can get all that ( even from the VW group) for much less, so the only reason to spend that much is to have a VW badge. Are you a Beastie Boys fan?

7 October 2009

[quote JackB]I would take Kia Soul over this overpriced VW any day - 124 bhp, aircon, 6 airbags, stereo, ESP, originality... All for 11k[/quote]

The words 'Kia' and 'Soul' should never be used in the same sentence...

7 October 2009

[quote corky73]The words 'Kia' and 'Soul' should never be used in the same sentence... [/quote]

If Soul doesn't have soul (if that's what you're trying to imply), what can be said of this german-built appliance?

7 October 2009

[quote JackB]

[quote corky73]The words 'Kia' and 'Soul' should never be used in the same sentence... [/quote]

If Soul doesn't have soul (if that's what you're trying to imply), what can be said of this german-built appliance?

[/quote]

it(the VW Polo) is built in Spain, Pamplona, actually, con brio y soul. VW Polo - auto emoción.

7 October 2009

[quote moe360]my dad has ordered a new C220 CDI Sport to replace his E280 CDI Sport. Should be arriving end of this month. Looks like a nice car just hope the interior is nice as the new MK6 Golf [/quote]

He should be happy, just come back from a long weekend jaunt to the North West in mine and it really excelled. Interior is vastly superior to a Golf's BTW (Build, design). here seem to be lots of the 220 CDi Sports out there too.

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