What is it?
This 74bhp naturally-aspirated 1.0 litre triple occupies the second rung of the new, sixth generation Polo’s powertrain ladder, placed above a 64bhp version and below the two turbocharged options, including the 113bhp TSI we have previously driven. All the options come with five-speed manual transmissions, with a seven-speed DSG optional on the 89bhp engine.
The car itself is largely new from the wheels up, not least because it’s now based on the VW Group’s MQB architecture, whose dimensional flexibility allows this car to share innards with models as diverse as the Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Audi TT. More relevant to buyers is that the MQB technology pool provides the Polo with more sophisticated electronics, ranging from reconfigurable instruments that can present a full colour navigation map directly ahead of the driver to a suite of aids including autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist and rear traffic alert.
Inevitably the new car is bigger, 81mm added to its length, although the 92mm let into its wheelbase has yielded better proportions, the overhangs at both ends reducing. Width increases too, benefitting cabin space, as does that wheelbase stretch. The three-door version, incidentally, is no more. Disappointingly the Polo has put on a little weight – around 50kg – although it’s stiffer and better equipped besides being bigger.
It looks bigger too: the car is physically wider and sculpted to look at. There's the wide, slender grille and headlight ensemble that’s now a VW trademark, and a set of horizontal lines across the rear end. But more striking than any of this – even the curious pressed streak occupying two-thirds of each flank – is an interior more colourful than any previous Polo’s (not hard, in truth) and sophisticated with it. Dual-tone ceramic and black dashboards, coloured satin inserts and brighter upholsteries are available, along with the more sober finishes familiar to VW drivers.