The dashboard materials, in the top section at least, are soft to touch, with expensive-looking texturing. The seats offer a wide range of adjustment and are supportive with firm cushioning and good side support. Drawing on technology already introduced on the Golf, the new Polo comes with VW’s Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring systems, a tyre pressure monitoring function and a hill holder function as standard.
Overall vision is less impressive, hampered by the relatively heavy rake of the windscreen and prominent cowl of the instrument binnacle. That leaves a surprisingly narrow line of sight from the driver’s seat. The overall interior quality is also spoilt by some rather hard plastic surfaces, especially between the front seats within the centre console.
For a car billed as being conceived for the digital age, the lack of a USB port as standard in any of the three specification lines is a major oversight. Model hierarchy plays a role here, of course: too much equipment would push the Polo too close to the Golf, so Wolfsburg has consciously dumbed it down to keep a respectable distance to its larger sibling – while also making it more profitable.
The increase in external dimensions means there’s a greater feeling of space up front; the generous width of the footwells, improved shoulder room and excellent head room being particular strong points. Accommodation in the rear has also increased, although with a higher waistline and shallower rear window you feel a little more enclosed than before. The Polo can accommodate five at a pinch, though VW admits it has been conceived more for four. It also offers a significant 71 litres more luggage space than its predecessor, at 351 litres.
The maturity evident in other areas is manifested in excellent on-road qualities. Delivering 113bhp at 5000rpm, the 1.0 TSI is nippy in nature, delivering determined acceleration on a loaded throttle in lower ratios. There is a hint of low-end turbocharger lag off the line, although the interruption is only fleeting. Once spinning freely, the new engine is smooth and willing through the gears. With 129lb ft on tap from 2000rpm through to 3500rpm, it also boasts a nice flexible nature that sees it pull taller gear at low revs out on the open road without too much fuss. The suppression of engine noise and vibration is vastly improved over the old Polo.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is light and easy to operate, although it is notchy and has a tendency to baulk when rushed through the gates. The optional seven-speed dual clutch unit provides automatic shifting, but is sometimes a little hesitant on downshifts. VW claims a 0-62mph time of 10.8sec and 116mph top speed.