Five years after the fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo arrived, VW has given its big-selling supermini a thorough overhaul. New three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, an infotainment system from the latest Golf and a raft of new tech have been added, to give the little Polo a big car feel.
There are styling changes, too, although you’re unlikely to notice them. Sharper bumpers, redesigned LED headlights (on top-spec models) and a chrome strip between the foglamps are the only exterior tweaks.
However, inside there’s a smart new three-spoke steering wheel and the same modular infotainment system (MIB) as in the MkVII Golf. The top-of-the-range unit features a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen that senses your hand moving towards it, then displays more options. It incorporates Bluetooth audio streaming and smartphone-style gesture zooming for maps, too.
Safety tech has also filtered its way down from the new Golf. This includes radar-controlled adaptive cruise control, an autobraking function and an optional rear view camera. A new electromechanical steering system helps to reduce fuel consumption, while ‘Sport Select’ two-stage adaptive dampers can be added, in a Polo first.
But the real advances are under the bonnet, where VW has updated the entire engine range, improving economy by 21 per cent in some cases. Gone are the old 74bhp 1.2 TDI and 89bhp and 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI diesels, replaced by a trio of three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDIs with identical outputs.
Most impressive is the 74bhp Polo TDI BlueMotion. Its economy is up from 83mpg to 88mpg, and CO2 falls by 6g/km to 82g/km. Even the regular 89bhp Polo TDI with a DSG auto now emits just 89g/km.
VW still offers its 89bhp and 108bhp 1.2 TSI petrol engines, but has replaced the old naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder from the up!, offering 59bhp or 74bhp.
An 89bhp turbo version of the same three-cylinder powers the 1.0 TSI BlueMotion, and claims 69mpg and 94g/km. Topping the range is an updated Polo GTI, with a 12bhp power hike to 189bhp.
The facelifted Polo will debut at March’s Geneva Motor Show, and go on sale soon after. VW claims prices won’t rise, so it should start from under £11,000.