Used Volkswagen Polo (Mk5, 2009-2017) review
The ageing Volkswagen Polo is still a front-runner in the supermini class, but rivals are cheaper
The fifth generation was, at last, a Polo that felt like a baby Golf, rather than a slightly posh supermini. It came with a big-car feel, big-car equipment if you bought a higher-spec model and, while it wasn’t class-leading to drive, you could have some fun in one if you got a sportier model. What matters to most owners is that the Polo is as easy to drive as it is to own. A worthy winner of the 2010 World Car of the Year award, the Mk5 is still very desirable.
Which one should I buy?
- Best Volkswagen Polo for low costs: 1.2 S 3dr
- Best Volkswagen Polo for fuel economy: 1.4 BlueMotion Tech SE 5dr
- Best Volkswagen Polo for driving fun: GTI 3dr
Home in on the TSI or TDI models because these combine plenty of punch with decent fuel economy. The other engines are okay but the 1.2-litre isn’t especially perky; the 1.4 is noticeably better.
There’s a lot more demand for five-door cars, which are much easier to get in and out of, but the three-door looks more stylish and in theory is slightly cheaper. Entry-level Polo S models are spartan; they get a DAB radio and central locking, but unless you buy the S A/C edition, there’s no air-conditioning. BlueMotion trim adds alloy wheels, as well as air-con, cruise control and electrically adjustable door mirrors.
Car group tests
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Used car tests
The SE comes with powered rear windows and climate control, while the SEL has an upgraded interior and multimedia system.
A 2015 facelift kept the Polo looking fresh and boosted its charm, so it’s worth choosing a post-facelift example over an earlier version. We named it our Supermini of the Year in 2016.
What are the alternatives?
The Ford Fiesta is all the supermini you need as it looks smart, is superb to drive and comes with plenty of kit if you avoid base models – plus you get a lot more car for your money than if you buy a Polo.
But the Fiesta isn’t a premium choice; if that’s a priority you need to look at the Audi A1, which shares much with the Polo and is a true high-quality product. So, too, is the MINI; although it’s not the most practical car, there are plenty for sale. The DS 3 – initially badged as a Citroen – strikes a good balance between premium feel and value for money. It comes in cabrio form, unlike the Polo, but has no five-door option.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe ageing Volkswagen Polo is still a front-runner in the supermini class, but rivals are cheaper
- 2How much will it cost?Engines return excellent economy, and residual values are among the strongest in class, offsetting the Polo’s high price
- 3How practical is it?The VW Polo isn't the most practical supermini, but it's not at all bad. Stick with the five-door version though
- 4What’s it like to drive?A wide range of excellent petrol and diesel engines work well with the refined manners of the Polo
- 5What should you look for?The Polo’s reputation for quality is undermined by a poor showing in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys
- 6What do owners think?The Mk5 VW Polo struggled in our Driver Power surveys, but owners did like the fuel economy and running costs