VW Polo R-Line vs MiTo

28 Jan, 2013 10:30am

We pit the new VW Polo R-Line against the Alfa MiTo TwinAir to find out which is more tempting

Downsizing is the latest fashion for car buyers, and manufacturers are falling over themselves to offer their smallest models in upmarket trim levels that will appeal to customers who are used to driving something a bit more substantial.

One company that has turned downsizing into a work of art is Volkswagen. The latest Polo has the quality of its Golf big brother, while a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines means wallet-friendly running costs. The latest model to join the Polo line-up is the R-Line. It slots in below the GTI, comes with a racy look and is powered by the brand’s peppy 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine.

For its first test, we’ve lined up another supermini newcomer. The Fiat Group’s TwinAir engine has received praise in the Fiat 500 and Panda, so it’s no surprise it has found its way under the bonnet of the Alfa Romeo MiTo. This 875cc petrol two-cylinder pumps out only 85bhp, but it has character in spades. It also promises low running costs, and combines the MiTo’s sharp looks and driving thrills to deliver an appealing package.

Verdict

These cars appeal in very different ways, and just when we thought one had gained a clear advantage during our test, the other clawed back ground in another area.

There’s no doubt that the Alfa Romeo MiTo can stop traffic with its looks, plus its engine has a more characterful soundtrack than those found in cars costing many times more. But the tiny TwinAir fails to deliver on its promise of efficiency. Its power delivery and short gearing demand that you thrash it to make meaningful progress – and this has a significant impact on economy.

The VW Polo is definitely the sensible choice of these two contenders. Subtle R-Line trim adds a sporty edge to the supermini’s looks, while the interior remains a masterclass in quality, with a level of fit and finish the Alfa can only dream of emulating.

While the Polo’s driving experience isn’t the last word in excitement, it’s entertaining enough most of the time, and is quite relaxing when you want to take things easy. Add economy that was a lot closer to the claimed figures than the MiTo’s, and the Polo makes a strong case for itself.

In short, the R-Line is simply a more rounded package, so it deserves to take the victory here.

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A contest between a would be style icon which does not quite make it and looks like a cross-eyed computer mouse (Mito) and a tarted up Granny wagon (Polo). Must have been fun.

Without giving a read or a second thought, I would have told that the VW will win here. After all, I am reading Autoexpress! what more can I expect? For me it is still an Alfa Romeo over this German garbage...

If you dislike Autoexpress so much, why do you visit this site?

The problem with the Polo R-Line is that it's possible to get a SEAT Ibiza FR for nearly £2k less than that.

If it was a comparison on taking things purely at face value (pun intended) then they'd have included Darth Vader (Ford Focus), Catfish (Ford Focus ST) and Dumbo (BMW 1 series hatchback) into this test... fortunately our eyes were spared the horror.

Lol, can't help but grin at baseless haters. VW make good cars... do they have the 'x-factor' - no, not really but in this segment people aren't looking for it.

Good point :)

Actually I think both these vehicles aspire towards "x-factor" (their prices suggest so) but neither deliver. There are one or two vehicles in this sector which do.

I can add Quasimodo (Nissan Juke) which, arguably, is the worst of all. Oh! and Ford Kuga as well. Motor styling is in a desperate state.

I wonder why they're testing the Polo R-Line now? Its not particularly "new" having been on sale since last April, although I can't say I've ever seen one on the road, just at dealers. I wonder if VW are trying to help sales along....

Such a surprising result! The 1.2 engine seems to fare better than the 0.9 one.. quite fantastic!

Polo is not a bad looking car but it does not hold a candle to the little Alpha in terms of style.
"Granny Wagon" arguably has a better engine though.

Usual German Express Trollop!! How will they ever get genuine respect from it's ever dwindelling readers?

The older Polo's were very old fashioned but there is no way anyone can say the new Polo is a Granny Wagon let alone the R line model.

A classic grannymobile or grandpamobile for that matter. One now retired colleague bought one of the 3 cylinder variety but changed it rapidly for a four cylinder one because of the "vibration through the pedals". How novel. Vibro foot massage whilst driving! He must have lost a packet though and I would have changed makes rather than model in such circumstances.

Yeah but we all know how anti VAG you are and how much you hate vag. It's boring to read. Plus you never say what you drive yourself. Obviously ashamed.....

He drives a DS3. Obviously likes visiting the dealers a lot ;)

It is plain silly to "hate" any manufacturer just as it is plain boring (and silly) to be a fanboy for one. I don't hate VW but I don't fall for the propaganda either. People I know have had real problems with them which have been lessened by a change to other parts of the VW group which are more realistically priced as well.
What I drive has no relevance to this thread at all but, just for the record, it is a DS3 which has flair in spades, has been good to own and is a delight to drive. This does not mean I am going to go in raptures over, say, the C1 or C3 which I am not. The latter is every bit as much of a granny wagon as the Polo.

The DS3 Is just a Chavs trainer on wheels. It's French, I'd have a Polo R line over a ds3 any day. The Polo won't look as dated as the current competition.

This is every bit as illogical a comment as saying "I would not have a Polo because it is German"! I am not nearly so hagiological about Citroen as Jack Kirby is about V.W. but, thankfully, the former can produce stylistic flair from time to time. Apart from the Scirocco, VW seems innocent of visual flair but I suppose as long as its customers are undemanding it will remain so.

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