VW Polo: Fourth report

14 Mar, 2012 12:00pm

Yellow paint makes our VW stand out – but you’ll need to do some DIY if you want to copy the look

If you love our Polo’s bold Savannah Yellow finish as much as I do, I’m afraid you’ll need to break out the brushes and paint pots. You see, late last year VW quietly dropped the shade from its colour charts, so you’ll have to indulge in a spot of DIY if you want your new Polo to look the same as ours.

It turns out the head-turning finish hasn’t been very popular, with less than 0.2 per cent of all Polo buyers forking out an extra £225 for it last year – that’s a grand total of just 80 cars. I can well believe that figure; since our VW arrived last June, I’ve only seen one other example in the same eye-catching colour.

Why are people put off this shade? A recent global study by data analyst Kaggle could have the answer. As we reported in Issue 1,205, it found yellow cars are among the most troublesome on the road – with 14 per cent of all vehicles finished in this colour hiding some sort of costly mechanical fault. Only cars painted gold or purple suffer from more problems, according to the research.

Happily, our Polo appears to have been spared any sort of colour curse. In more than 10,000 miles of motoring, it hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, the gutsy turbocharged 1.2-litre engine feels as though it’s getting stronger with every extra mile, pulling smoothly and sweetly from idle all the way to the red line.

What’s more, the fuel economy has continued to improve, with the car now returning a diesel-rivalling 43.9mpg. And there are certainly no question marks over the VW’s build quality.

Despite being used as hard-working family transport, the car’s cabin feels every bit as solid as it did when it left the factory. There are no squeaks or rattles, and nothing has fallen off. In fact, the interior is so well finished, you often have to remind yourself you’re in a humble supermini and not something much more expensive. High-grade materials, precise switchgear and an excellent driving position all help create a classy and upmarket atmosphere.

No matter what exotic cars I’ve been driving on road tests, it’s always a pleasure to climb back behind the wheel of the VW. And while it’s not as fun to drive on a twisting back road as a Ford Fiesta, it’s a more refined and comfortable choice in day-to-day use.

Yet what really shines through is the Polo’s attention to detail. The large glass area makes it easy to place the car on the road or in a parking space, while the standard folding armrest between the front seats helps take the strain out of long motorway drives. Another neat feature is the excellent interior lighting. With five separate lamps in the roof, plus a pair of front footwell lights, loading and unloading my 21-month-old daughter on dark winter evenings has never been easier.

The only option I’d be tempted to add is the £315 Sensor Pack, which includes rear parking sensors and cruise control. The latter would be really useful, as it would allow you to fully exploit the impressively refined Polo’s excellent long-distance cruising credentials.

But I wouldn’t change anything else – and certainly not the colour, as the bright yellow paintjob helps the otherwise rather dull VW stand out from the crowd. And the exclusivity the finish adds is the icing on the cake for me.

Extra Info

“Sorry, James, but I’m not a fan of the colour. I do like the big car refinement on long trips, though, while the quality on offer inside is a real plus, too.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester

“The Polo is a great small car. It looks slick, is perfect for my daily commute and is sure to keep its value when it’s time for me to trade it in.”
bluequake, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

Disqus - noscript

I acquired a new VW Polo 1.2 last November and it has been SHOCKINGLY UNRELIABLE! I have just left a dealer after my 3RD visit for repairs. 1st: engine mgmt electics failure. 2nd: lighting circuit failure and paint flaking off poorly painted rear bumper - the factory forgot to apply the undercoat. 3rd: washer motor failure. Furthermore, the deadlock doesn't disengage properly, meaning the bootlid often doesn't close properly, requiring several attempts to close and lock. MY ADVICE? DO NOT BUY A VOLKSWAGEN POLO!

I have had 5 v.w.s in the past and every one has been unreliable so your glowing reports and automatic assumption that v.w. are the best manufacturers of quality cars leaves me nonplussed as to your testing criteria. Also every testing company in the world j.d. power et al also put v.w. close to the bottom of the pile regarding quality. So how come the disparity could it be due to badge snobbery or just general incompetence in your testing methods. So my advice is DO NOT BUY A V W AT ALL AT ANY PRICE.

I have owned a number of VWs over the years and they have been ultra reliable. My current Passat is 11 yrs old with over 186000 miles on. The only biggish problem was an alternator failure over 100000 miles ago! My previous Passats were also ultra reliable, one with 175k on and the other just over 100k. I have never had a major failure or lots of niggling problems only the usual wear and tear items. I have posted this to try and redress the balance a little as only moaners put anything on here normally. I have now owned 7 different VWs ranging from an early polo to the Passats and a new Beetle and would recommend a VW to anybody.


Mark, you are fortunate to have a lucky experience with VWs. I am not a 'moaner' as you rather childishly wrote in your contribution, rather a first-time VW owner who was shocked to find his 'reliable' car so shocklingly unreliable. 3 warranty claims in 3 months for a brand new Polo does not constitute moaning, it indicates an unreliable and poorly-built Volkswagen. I would not recommend a VW Polo to anybody.

I own a 13 year old VW Lupo which still runs sweetly with 79k on the clock, the cabin trim has proved very durable too. I think David has been unlucky.
Good quality oil, avoiding 'cheap petrol' and basic maintenance have kept me on the road. I would recommend VW, the cars are nicely finished and you have only to sit in some other marques to realise it.

All bar one of my cars have been VAG cars. I must say that the reliability has been outstanding over the last 25yrs of motoring. I have never, not once had to pay for any non consumable item for any of my cars, the closest thing to a fault was a broken brake light switch under the pedal of my MK3 golf, which was fixed for free by my local VW dealer (outside of warranty).

I am of course not so blind as to admit that everyone's experience would be the same. You can end up with a friday afternoon car from any manufacturer, but I wouldn't stay with VAG for this long if the reliability wasn't first rate.

As far as the 6R polo goes, it's a wonderful little car, and the drive and feel is way above it's competitors.

I'm a fan of the TSI engines, especially the 1.2, but in all honesty how is 43.9mpg "diesel-rivalling" - I've got an old Leon 150 TDI that does an easy 10mpg more than that despite regular use of it's ample performance, and a 1.2 or 1.6TDI Polo would be better still.
It's good, yes, but not diesel good

The problems with my UNRELIABLE VW continue! Electric windows with a life of their own, a lighting circuit that partially cuts out -randomly, at night. Poor fuel economy from 1.2. A boot lid that won't lock without being slammed shut, repeatedly! Luckily, I only have to put up with it until November...

Key specs

  • On fleet since: June 2011
  • Price when new: £15,925
  • Running costs: 43.9mpg
  • Mileage: 10,289
  • Engine / Power: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 104bhp
  • Trade-in value now: £11,500
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 13/£429
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: None so far
  • Equipment: Savannah Yellow paint (£225*), pas. airbag cut-out (£45)