First look at new Polo

2 Mar, 2009 10:05pm Jack Rix

All-new Polo is ready to tackle Fiesta.

Could this be Volkswagen’s strongest-ever Polo? The new car, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, promises to be the best built and most efficient supermini on sale – thanks to a redesigned body and range of new engines.

There will be a choice of three and five-door models, plus an ultra-frugal BlueMotion edition, as the fifth-generation Polo aims to keep pace with the reigning class leader, the Ford Fiesta.

The newcomer certainly has a smart look, with lights and proportions inspired by the MkVI Golf.

A narrow grille framed by sleek headlamps mimics the larger car, while at the back, distinctive new lights and a wider track give a solid look from any angle. The lines are simple and straightforward compared with the Ford.

Yet while the new Polo is larger than the car it replaces, it’s 7.5 per cent – or 76kg – lighter, weighing less than one tonne. The benefit of the larger dimensions is not only improved head, shoulder and legroom, but also more loadspace.

With the rear seats in place, the boot offers 280 litres; fold them and it increases to 952. The structure is also stiffer, which should boost refinement and keep the handling sharp. Plus, VW is aiming to stay ahead of rivals with a pair of new forced-induction engines. The firm has downsized capacities to offer the power and torque of the old 1.6 and 1.8-litre units, while improving fuel economy.

Star of the show is a new 1.2-litre TSI. Developing 104bhp, the turbocharged petrol engine produces similar amounts of power to a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre, but cuts emissions and boosts mpg.

A non-turbocharged 1.2-litre engine will also be offered, while a brand new 1.6-litre TDI common rail diesel joins the line-up, available with either 74bhp or 89bhp.

The quality of materials and finish is vastly improved inside, while white backlit dials add a sporty touch. The dash is constructed using soft-touch plastics, with splashes of aluminium trim applied tastefully around the interior.

Equipment is generous for a car in this class. Among the numerous options are a refrigerated glovebox, an MP3 input and, for the first time on a Polo, touchscreen satellite navigation can be ordered along with a multi-function steering wheel.

The newcomer is set to arrive in showrooms in June this year, but prices have yet to be confirmed.

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