Volkswagen Polo R Line

9 Nov, 2012 7:30pm Damion Smy

Our verdict on the new VW Polo R Line, which gives a taste of the forthcoming hot Polo R


While the Fiesta Zetec S gets upgraded suspension, VW has focused purely on design with the Polo R Line. But that’s no bad thing – it looks the part with its chunky bodykit and interior branding, and retains the comfort and low running costs of the standard 1.2 TSI. And this is a great way to get a taste of 2013’s 225bhp Polo R without paying top dollar.

The 225bhp Polo R will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Featuring a tuned version of the Golf GTI’s 2.0 TSI engine, it should set a new class benchmark for performance from a supermini – but if you want the go-faster look without the engine to match, the Polo R Line is perfect.

This new model is based on the 1.2-litre TSI in Match trim, and comes as a three or five-door. The regular Polo’s styling is pumped up with deeper R Line-specific bumpers, chunky side skirts and a more prominent roof spoiler.

A set of 16-inch ‘Mallory’ alloy wheels and tinted rear windows finish off the look. And while it’s hardly a Fast and the Furious-style makeover, it adds some welcome visual punch to the Polo’s uneventful design.

It feels good inside, too, with a thick-rimmed three-spoke sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals giving the driver a sense they’re in something much quicker.

Cloth-trimmed sports seats are comfortable, with plenty of bolstering to hold you in, while the R Line logo is splashed across the headrests and aluminium scuff plates on the door sills. There’s plenty of equipment thrown in, too, including a DAB radio, an iPod connector, heated mirrors and air-conditioning.

Under the bonnet is the higher-powered 104bhp version of VW’s 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine, which is so quiet at idle you’ll think it’s not running. But it can perform when it needs to, and offers enthusiastic acceleration and a raspy exhaust note.

At all other times, this Polo is a doddle to drive. A lightweight shift action from the six-speed manual box, accurate steering and pedals that require little effort to push mean you’ll feel instantly comfortable behind the wheel.

But it’s not as sharp to drive as a Ford Fiesta Zetec S, which gets lower and firmer suspension. Still, the 16-inch alloys – which look fantastic crammed into the wheelarches – don’t spoil the standard Polo’s supple ride. Hit a pothole or a bump at speed and there’s a larger jolt than normal, but the difference is mostly negligible.

A large part of the R Line’s appeal is its low running costs. Despite the high-performance looks, the car promises 53.3mpg fuel economy and 124g/km CO2 emissions. Plus, you get exactly the same 280-litre boot capacity as in the standard Polo – this grows to a maximum 952 litres when the rear seats are folded.

Disqus - noscript

This looks like the sort of car that would suit me, sporty looks but it will keep the insurance company happy. I'll certainly consider it to replace my Fiat Grande Punto.

I contacted my local dealer when the R-line was first announced a while ago, and they held out little hope of actually getting hold of one. It seems they struggle similarly with the SEL tsi model, and have so far been unable to come up with one for me to even look at let alone test drive.

Drove one at the weekend. Nice sporty style and performance as and when you need it. Only negative point is the gap on the wheel arches due to 16" alloys. Needs 17" if I am honest other than that if you want a car that is sporty looking and not something that's going to cost a fortune to insure or something that looks like it has driven through Halfords front window then this is the car!

Key specs

  • Price: £15,195
  • Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl petrol
  • Power: 104bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 118mph
  • Economy: 53.3mpg
  • CO2: 124g/km
  • Equipment: Bodykit, sports seats, air-conditioning, sports steering wheel, iPod input, heated mirrors
  • On sale: Now