Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSi 3dr

Classy looks and great refinement make supermini a winner

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

There’s lots to like about the new Polo, which seems to be a car for its time. The 1.2 TSI engine goes to the top of the class for economy, refinement and performance for a start. The three-door car is spacious inside, while the styling is grown-up and the ride and handling balance is lovely. Add in VW’s fine residual values, build quality and image, and you have an extremely classy supermini.

Cheaper, sportier and better looking... That’s what’s on offer from a three-door supermini. Take Ford’s Fiesta, for example. While the five-door is a fine looker, it’s the three-door that really turns heads.

Up until now, though, you’d have been better buying a walking stick than rely on a three-door VW Polo to boost your image! Can the new version do anything to change that?

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW Polo


VW claims that subtle tweaks to the bodywork give the three-door a more aggressive stance. It’s luxurious too, with four trims – S, SE, Moda and SEL. And the three-door is expected to cost about £600 less than the five.

It uses the same engine range as the five-door, including the 1.6 TDI diesel, 1.2-litre three-cylinder and ageing 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrols. From next year we’ll also get a BlueMotion model with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder diesel giving 88g/km, plus a GTI with VW’s 170bhp 1.4 TSI twincharger unit.

The top seller, however, is predicted to be this model, the new 104bhp 1.2 TSI.

After the buzzy 1.4, the 1.2 TSI feels lively and revvy. It pulls strongly from low revs, but is smoother and more refined.

It’s also faster, with a claimed top speed of 119mph and 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds.

However, fuel consumption of around 51mpg is 25 per cent better than the 1.6-litre unit the TSI replaces, while a CO2 figure of 130g/km means the 1.2 will fall into road tax Band D, costing £120 a year.

The six-speed gearbox is slick, but the seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission is definitely worth going for. Handling is crisp, if not as sharp as the Fiesta’s.

The electrically assisted steering reduces its effort with road speed and provides decent feedback. The ride is good, too, although road noise is obvious on concrete surfaces.

Even so, we came away from our encounter impressed. The Polo’s blend of refinement, driver involvement and practicality mean it really is a shrunken Golf.

Rival: Ford Fiesta The Fiesta rains on the Polo’s parade in terms of sharp looks, price and handling. However, only the 1.6 keeps pace with the 1.2 TSI, and you’ve got to go down to a 1.25-litre to match its economy.

Most Popular

Hyundai i30 vs Volkswagen Golf
Hyundai i30 vs Volkswagen Golf - main
Car group tests

Hyundai i30 vs Volkswagen Golf

Can the updated Hyundai i30 provide tough competition for the latest Volkswagen Golf?
16 Jan 2021
BMW X2 M Mesh Edition on sale now priced from £34,510
BMW X2 M Mesh Edition - front

BMW X2 M Mesh Edition on sale now priced from £34,510

The BMW X2 M Mesh Edition features unique decals and upholstery, as well as – you guessed it – a mesh radiator grille
15 Jan 2021
Restructured Renault, Dacia and Alpine brands to launch into new segments 
Renault reveal

Restructured Renault, Dacia and Alpine brands to launch into new segments 

Electric revolution at Renault, plus larger Dacia models confirmed, Alpine sub-branding for hot Renaults and electric Alpines too
14 Jan 2021