Volkswagen Polo review
The Volkswagen Polo shows how sophisticated the humble supermini can get
The sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo builds on the strengths of its predecessors. It's more like a shrunken Golf than ever, and offers lots of space and tech when compared to its supermini rivals. Put simply, this is the quality option in the class, and nowadays it straddles the gap between regular superminis and premium models such as the MINI.
Buy a Polo and you’ll be getting into a small car that rides with a similar level of composure to a VW Golf, while the interior feels best in class for quality. It is an expensive small car though, and its chief adversary, the Ford Fiesta, is more fun to drive.
No matter which Volkswagen Polo you choose, from entry level S to the rapid GTI, you're getting one of the classiest superminis for sale in the UK today. The sixth-generation arrived in 2018, and it brought with it a step up in quality over the old car, as well as a range of efficient engines and some of the latest tech from the larger Golf.
Indeed, the Polo is now nearly as long as a Mk3 Golf, and it's nearly as wide as the Mk5 version, which means the Polo is one of the roomiest cars in the supermini class. It's a strong selling point in the face of a long list of rivals with their own talents. The Ford Fiesta is the choice for a fun drive, while the Citroen C3 adds personalisation and funky design to the mix. The Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia are solid, practical choices, while the SEAT Ibiza and Mazda 2 add a sporty edge.
But the rivals don't stop there, because the Polo is a quality product, so it could also be considered a rival to premium superminis such as the MINI and Audi A1. Then there's the rest of the supermini ranks, including the Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and all-new versions of the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio.
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To help the Polo compete, VW has fitted it with its latest turbocharged engines. At the entry point to the range there's a 79bhp, three-cylinder naturally aspirated unit, but we'd recommend going for the 1.0 TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol engines. They come in 95PS and 115PS forms with power outputs of 94bhp and 113bhp. All models are front-wheel drive, with the 79bhp and 94bhp engines coming with a five-speed manual, while the 113bhp version has a six-speed manual. In addition, the 95 and 115 TSI engines can be had with VW's quick-shifting seven-speed DSG auto.
The 1.6 TDI diesel is the 95PS version of the four-cylinder unit, and it's only sold in SEL trim. This is front-wheel drive and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, with no option to add the DSG box.
At the top of the range, the Polo GTI comes with a detuned version of the 2.0 TSI found in the Golf GTI. Here it's rated at 197bhp and comes with a six-speed DSG gearbox as standard.
Trim levels run through S, SE, Match, Beats, United, SE-L, R-Line, GTI and GTI+. All cars come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 2 USB sockets, alloy wheels, all-round electric windows (all Polos are five-door now), and a leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel. Prices start from just under £16,000, with the top-spec GTI+ coming in at almost £25,000.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Volkswagen Polo shows how sophisticated the humble supermini can get
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Polo is safe and comfortable rather than fun on the road, but the 1.0 TSI turbo petrol is a cracker
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsWith frugal three-cylinder petrol engines on offer, the Polo can keep running costs down
- 4Interior, design and technologySubtle exterior changes cloak a revolution inside, with a completely fresh cabin and impressive infotainment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Polo’s 351-litre boot is very competitive for the class, while interior space is good
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe VW Polo chalks up an impressive Euro NCAP score, with additional safety tech on the options list