Volkswagen Polo review
The Volkswagen Polo remains an impressively capable supermini, offering plenty of comfort, refinement and big-car features
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 quality is impressive. However, it remains an expensive small car, perhaps so much so that it could put off potential buyers.
About the Volkswagen Polo
No matter which Volkswagen Polo you choose, from entry-level Life 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.
The (five-door only) Polo is now nearly as long as a Mk3 Golf and almost as wide as the Mk5 version, which means it's 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. Although it's now been laid to rest, the Ford Fiesta is still the default choice for small car fun, and you might just be able to source a new model from stock at certain dealers. The Citroen C3 adds personalisation and funky design to the mix, while the Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia are solid, practical choices. If you're after something a bit more leftfield, then the SEAT Ibiza or Mazda 2 add a sporty edge.
Car group tests
- Skoda Fabia vs Volkswagen Polo: 2023 twin test review
- Ford Fiesta ST vs Volkswagen Polo GTI vs Hyundai i20 N: 2022 group test review
- Volkswagen Polo vs SEAT Ibiza vs Hyundai i20: 2021 group test review
Used car tests
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, Peugeot 208 and the highly-rated Renault Clio.
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 engine. It comes in 95PS and 110PS forms with power outputs of 94bhp and 109bhp. The sporty GTI model delivers 204bhp from its 2.0-litre TSI petrol unit.
All models are front-wheel drive, with the 79bhp and 94bhp engines coming with a five-speed manual as standard, although the 94bhp version is also available with a seven-speed DSG auto 'box. The 109bhp variant is only offered with the automatic transmission. Diesel-powered Polo versions are no longer available to order, although you'll find some used examples in the dealer network.
Trim levels have been slimmed down to include Life, Style, R-Line, GTI and the limited GTI Edition 25. All cars come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 2 USB sockets, alloy wheels and a multifunction steering wheel. The Polo range starts from a whisper over £20,000, with the Style and R-Line versions coming in at more than £23,000, and the performance GTI priced at nearly £29,000 as of September 2023.
Used and nearly new
The history of the Volkswagen Polo dates back to 1975. Since then, it has grown from being a rebadged Audi into one of the best superminis you can buy. It’s not the cheapest supermini you can buy, but solid residuals mean you’ll lose less money when you sell it, while the latest versions feel like slightly smaller versions of the excellent Volkswagen Golf.
Volkswagen Polo history
Volkswagen Polo Mk6: 2017-
The current Polo is one of the classiest superminis you can buy. It’s like owning a smaller Golf, although this means that you’ll pay a premium for the privilege. A facelift in 2021 ushered in styling tweaks, while every Polo version features a standard digital instrument display.
Volkswagen Polo Mk5: 2009-2017
Launched in 2009, the Mk5 was the first Volkswagen Polo to be named European Car of the Year. It was also the 2010 World Car of the Year, completing a double of gongs for the impressive supermini. Only a lacklustre driving experience puts a blot in its copybook, although the Polo GTI offers grown up thrills. Read our full Mk5 Volkswagen Polo buyer’s guide here… Read our full Mk5 Volkswagen Polo buyer’s guide here…
Volkswagen Polo Mk4: 2002-2009
Feeling every inch a ‘mini Golf’, the Mk4 Polo felt like a grown up supermini. Excellent ride quality, superb build quality and economical engines are just some of the highlights, although the Polo is let down by a mediocre driving experience. The 2005 facelift introduced Golf-style headlights and Phaeton-style rear lights. Read our full Mk4 Volkswagen Polo buyer’s guide here...
Older Volkswagen Polo models
The Volkswagen Polo has come a long way since it arrived in 1975 as a rebadged version of the Audi 50. The Mk1 Polo lived on until 1981 when it was replaced by the Mk2, which included a now iconic ‘breadvan’ version. Things stepped up a gear in 1994 with the launch of the Polo Mk3, which was based on a new platform and came complete with new body and engines.
For an alternative review of the Volkswagen Polo, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Volkswagen Polo remains an impressively capable supermini, offering plenty of comfort, refinement and big-car features
- 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 CostsFrugal three-cylinder petrol engines help keep Polo running costs down
- 4Interior, design and technologyVolkswagen has introduced subtle exterior changes for the Polo, with a stylish cabin and impressive infotainment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceWith good boot space and plenty of room for passengers, the Polo is a practical supermini
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe VW Polo chalks up an impressive Euro NCAP score, with additional safety tech on the options list