Elsewhere, though, it’s business as usual. It still has a five-speed manual ’box, driving the front wheels. MacPherson struts still make up the Polo’s front suspension, and a torsion beam continues to be employed at the rear. In £16,795 Beats specification, the Polo's cabin still feels a cut above the rest of the class in terms of premium appeal, and it’ll still seat two adults in reasonable comfort in the second row. You’ll have to pay an extra £675 if you want the snazzy Discover Navigation system that was fitted to our test car, and climate control is also optional, at £415.
What's it like?
Putting the engine firmly to one side, there’s not much about the manner in which this Polo goes down the road that’ll upset. At the same time, there’s not much to really inspire, either. Dynamically, it’s a bit beige; it changes direction with respectable conviction and grips tenaciously enough when you tip it into a bend. Body roll arrives in a controlled and progressive fashion, too. But that eager sense of fun and enthusiasm you get from a Ford Fiesta or a Mini 3dr is conspicuous by its absence.
Next to those more adjustable, spry-handling superminis, the Polo isn’t particularly willing to bring its rear end into play with a lift of the accelerator. And its steering - though nicely weighted once you wind on a good amount of lock - doesn’t paint much of a picture as to the relationship between tyre and road. You never get the sense the Polo is a car that enjoys being thrown about. It’ll deal with being thrown about just fine, sure, but you feel as though it's rolling its eyes at you when you do, like a disinterested teenager might. Those after a car to simply get them from A to B with as little fuss as possible will probably quite like the Polo for this. Others might not. For what it’s worth, I find the Polo’s handling difficult to get excited about.
Its ride is as impressive as ever, though. It retains the same rubber-footed, cosseting demeanour common to all Polos this side of the hotter GTI (and even that rides in an impressively civilised manner). It still suffers from some of the shuddering that affects all cars with shorter wheelbases, but generally it does well to sand down the edges of all but the sharpest intrusions - both at town speeds and on the open road. It’d certainly be easier to live with than a Mini, but the Mini - even with its far firmer ride - would be more fun. So would a Fiesta.
So how about that engine, then? For town duties, it’s fine. Its torque may not be quite as accessible as that of its turbocharged brethren, but you don’t have to rev it to death to avoid stalling. The gearshift is light and accurate enough, and while the pedals are positioned slightly too high relative to your driving position, they’re suitably weighted and spaced sensibly.