VW Polo vs Renault Clio

Polo vs. Clio
Credits: Pete Gibson
10 May, 2010 12:20pm

Volkswagen’s new small-capacity turbocharged Polo packs plenty of power. But can it beat its feisty Renault Clio rival?

Petrol prices are on the rise – so large-capacity engines face a bleak future. Diesel and hybrid models are already established alternatives, but the humble petrol motor isn’t finished yet, as this duo proves.

A new generation of small turbos has come to the fore with the promise of lower emissions than ever. Better still, they don’t sacrifice the driving thrills and perky performance associated with petrol engines. The latest arrival in the big-selling supermini sector is the VW Polo. It features an attractive, fresh look with sharp creases, bold lights and an all-new 1.2-litre TSI packing more than 100bhp. With CO2 emissions of only 124g/km, it ticks all the right boxes.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Polo

Up against it is Renault’s Clio 1.2 TCe. Less powerful and less efficient than the VW, it promises sparkling handling to match its smooth, post-facelift looks. Will that prove decisive or will the new kid on the turbo block take the honours?


These cars have a tough brief. They need to provide excellent economy, tidy handling and family car practicality in a stylish, affordable package. Until now, the Polo has flattered to deceive, but the addition of Volkswagen’s new 1.2 TSI engine has transformed it into a genuine force – and it wins here. The brilliant unit combines with good on-road manners and grown-up styling to make it a really polished performer. The Renault is still a great all-rounder, with a spacious cabin, lively handling and generous equipment to go with its traditional on-road comfort. Yet it lacks the pace and class of its German rival. If the Polo commanded a price premium of more than £1,100 over the Clio, it would be difficult to justify. But the VW deserves to take victory on account of its low running costs, strong residual values and great engine.

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£ 15k for a supermini is no longer a budget price...

Prices are just getting crazy now, I`d would expect a mid level Golf for that price.

Solution, buy second hand or after the cars lost its initial depreciation plunge.

Have just taken delivery of 1.2TSI. It is everything the test report suggests - the most sophisticated small car available till the (bling?) A1 arrives. Thoroughly impressed in all respects. One odd quirk - don't know if it's just on our example - is the dashboard gear-change indicator which constantly seems to think you should be in the next ratio up (usually 6th), even if the engine is labouring at 1800 revs. Engine is smooth and punchy but the 52 mpg figure is actually realistic too - 50 is attainable in the real world. Excellent price after scrappage and substantial discount at VW Chester.

I'm not going to slag off the Clio but it is hardly a rival to the Polo. The Clio is more 207, Micra and Yaris area.

The main rivals to the Polo are Fiesta and Corsa. The Fiesta wins hands down. It has style, class and a bit of punch. Everyone has driven a Fiesta old or new. The latest carnation is the best yet and unlike the Polo it doesn't live in it's bigger brothers shadow (Golf & Focus). If they changing the design of the Polo instead of shinking a Golf then it may have a chance.

Well said. The price of new cars is just bonkers. And I think it's all been caused by the self-perpetuation of an entire industry that has made us believe that they are creating better, safer, more sophisticted machines that we can't afford to be without. How much progress has VW (or anyone else) made in the past 20 years? We now just have Polos and Fiestas that are the size that Golfs and Escorts were when they were first launched. Only they have more 'features' which render them less reliable in the real world.

Why does AE avoid putting it up against it's no.1 rival; the Fiesta? Is it because they know the Fiesta will floor it? Having more equipement, better ride and handling, more edgy styling and it will cost less too. Yes can see why AE wimped out. Just makes you wonder what's in it for them?

Oh no the Ford Fan boys are out in force again......The Fiesta does have the better handling and is more stylish but the Polo fights back with a much better engine and better made interior. Looks are a personal thing and both look nice in different ways. Fiesta is more sporty the Polo more mature.

As for cost Fords pricing has been trully silly over the past year of price hikes. Yes big discounts are available but they simply hit residuals harder. That is also were the Polo scores the Fiesta has more than a match and the VW badge has always added Kudos that the Ford, Vauxhall badge cannot.