Cargiant Reviews the Volkswagen Polo
The most recent 5th series of the VW Polo came out earlier this year. However, the facelift has been anything but obvious, but then why change something good? As the second best seller in the range, this supermini has been subtly improved and now includes even more safety features and even more efficient engines.
It may not be as fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta for example, but the VW Polo has plenty of redeeming qualities. It provides both excellent handling and refinement and remains extremely comfortable, with good suspension designed for longer journeys. Built with economy rather than performance in mind, the range of engines available provide up to 23% improved efficiency levels, with the 3-cylinder 1.0 petrol expected to be the most popular in the future.
The VW Polo possesses many of the positive attributes you might find in other Volkswagen cars such as classy interiors and stylish exteriors but at a cheaper price. Despite being smaller than predecessors and siblings, the VW Polo remains adequately spacious, practical and versatile, sporting a variety of different models from S and SE to R-lines and is overall one of the UK’s favourite hatchbacks.
Drive and Performance:
Volkswagen’s focus when designing the Polo has definitely been on comfort and efficiency rather than performance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Good suspension means the Polo glides nicely over uneven surfaces and allows you to cruise along for long journeys very comfortably.
The steering across all models is accurate and light but perhaps a little underwhelming in engagement, providing little feedback on windier roads. There is also a little too much body roll through bends but that said, a ride behind the wheel of the VW Polo generally feels easy, supple and controllable.
While this may mean that the VW Polo isn’t the most fun when put next to the likes of the Ford Fiesta, it does mean you can manoeuvre the car with confidence. Good visibility also means that parking this little car is even easier and blind spots are minimised.
Engine sizes and performance vary but the bigger engines that are partnered with models like the GTI do manage to achieve 0-60mph in just 6.9 seconds, which for a small hatchback is relatively quick. The only downside of the engines is that they can be quite loud but thankfully improved refinement to the newer versions of the VW Polo, mean that any noise is dampened inside the cabin.
MPG, Running costs & Emissions:
The great thing about the VW Polo is that you get high quality without damaging your bank account, both at purchase and during ownership.
While the initial cost of the series is similar to its main Ford Fiesta rival it holds its value much better than others, and is relatively cheap to run. Insurance is quite competitive and servicing costs are kept relatively low.
A range of BlueMotion engines are available with the VW Polo, with the most impressive 1.2-litre diesel reaching 80mpg while only emitting 91g/km of CO2 emissions and falling into the tax-free band. Even more powerful engines like the ones found in the GTI get 47.9mpg and 139g/km of CO2 but are of course more expensive to insure.
Unsurprisingly the petrol engines are less efficient but not ridiculously so, for example the entry-level 1.0-litre 59bhp engine reaches 53.5mpg and emits 124g/km although is disappointingly underpowered but is still expected to be highly popular.
The VW Polo may not be quite as attractive as perhaps the Renault Clio equivalent but it is still smart and stylish to look at. The newest 2014 version of the range hasn’t strayed far from its predecessors or indeed its larger sibling, the VW Golf at all. In fact it is unlikely that many will even notice the slight increase in length, new LED headlights and bumpers as it still sports familiar features like the wide grille alloy wheels ranging from 14-17 inches.
One the inside though, the VW Polo really does shine. It shouts high quality, with a soft plastic dash that is simply and clearly laid out which now has a touch screen control system in the centre. This is particularly enjoyable and beneficial when you invest £150 in the new MirrorLinkTM tool that allows you to display the content of your iPhone on screen (apart from videos to avoid distraction). In SE models and above you can also add satnav making the control system of the VW Polo highly practical.
Adding to the practicality is the large boot with foldable rear seats and removable floor, which you can hide valuables under when you leave the car. Despite being small and perhaps not possessing the same amount of space as the Ford Fiesta as a whole, the VW Polo still offers adequate head and legroom in the front and back. Adjustable seats and steering wheel help improve driving position and compliment the good suspension, making this series a great choice for longer journeys.
One downfall of the VW Polo is the noisy engines across the range and can sound quite guttural, causing pedal vibrations. Having said that, the refinement within the car is excellent and with thicker windows this and other wind/road noise is dampened even on the motorway. Visibility is also good, which combined with the available parking sensors in the SE range and above makes parking the car really quite easy.
The new 2014 version of the VW Polo come with a range of new safety equipment. This includes automatic post-collision braking, stability control, tyre pressure monitor, airbags, anti-whiplash headrests and ISOFIX points for child booster seats. You also have the option of adding cruise control, city emergency braking and rear curtain airbags at a cost depending on the model of your car.
The VW Polo achieved the maximum 5 stars available at the Euro NCAP crash tests and high scores that rivalled the Ford Fiesta for both adult and child occupant protection. Volkswagen is generally respected for its level of reliability too, which makes the VW Polo a trustworthy choice of hatchback, both for families and as a company car.