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Volkswagen Polo R

Road Test

Volkswagen Polo R driven

Driven December 2012

Additional Info

Usually, any VW product with an ‘R' denotes a performance version built to outpace even the legendary GTI. Sadly, not with the Polo R Line - it's just a trim level, with a bodykit to make it vaguely resemble a hot hatch, but none of the go to match the show.

So for just over £15k, the R Line comes with chunkier front and rear bumpers, deeper side sills, tinted rear windows, a black radiator grille and 16in alloys, plus some neat interior bits, including sports seats, leather steering wheel and the ‘R' logo stitched into the headrests. It looks and feels pretty good. But under the bonnet is VW's frugal-but-meagre 1.2-litre turbo petrol producing 104bhp and 129lb ft, so 0-62mph takes 9.7 seconds. Which is sluggish - a Suzuki Swift Sport is a second faster and nearly two grand cheaper.

Weirdly, it doesn't seem to matter. The engine may be small, but it's punchy, and the Polo zips along happily. Plus it comes with a six-speed manual, so it actually feels more involving than the 180bhp, £19k, DSG-only Polo GTI. So we're preaching an odd thing here. The R Line is all mouth and no trousers, and none the worse for it.

Piers Ward

The numbers
1197cc, 4cyl, FWD, 104bhp, 129lb ft, 53.3mpg, 124g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 9.7secs, 118mph, 1088kg

The verdict
Not the warm hatch you might be expecting. But zippy and fun despite the lack of outright punch

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