What is it?
One of the benchmark superminis. In this, its latest iteration, the Polo is an astoundingly capable little car whose only real failing is that it lacks the dynamic spirit of some of its rivals.
Volkswagen has facelifted it for 2014 and has made an attempt to improve on the fun factor, but that's not really been the focus: bringing in much-needed new petrol engines, new interior technology and sharper styling has, in an attempt to help the Polo fend off some extremely capable rivals. Has it worked?
Comfort and refinement are at the fore in the Polo. This is probably the best distance car in the supermini class, especially when it’s mated to the 1.6-litre TDI diesel. But there are plenty of excellent engines to choose from, including the little 1.2 TSI turbo and the bigger 1.4-litre turbo in the Polo GTI. The new 1.4 TSI ACT in the BlueGT is also intriguing: it features cylinder deactivation, like on a Bentley V8, so emits just 107g/km CO2 despite producing 140bhp.
The Polo isn’t a bad car to chuck about either, a point made all the more convincingly by the lightness of that zingy little TSI, but it still loses ground to the Clio and Fiesta in terms of feel and feedback. Even heroes can’t do everything brilliantly, although it’s still better than average.
On the inside
The Polo is reassuringly well made inside. And, like the Audi A1 with which it shares almost everything mechanically, the Polo is finished to an exacting standard. Materials used are, broadly speaking, top notch and there’s no real sense of cost cutting about it. The driving position is good too, and all the controls and instruments are exactly as clear and attractive as you’d expect from a VW.
The mid-life facelift has given much more focus on in-car entertainment – the car’s touch screen will exactly mirror your Android phone and give you access to all your apps. It’s OK, but feels like an early-adopter set-up at the moment. Downsides? Cabin and boot space is merely average and the interior could look more interesting.
You’re not going to get hung out to dry by Polo ownership. VW has a reputation for legendary build quality , the engines are clean and frugal (and there’s plenty of choice), tax bands are low and residuals as strong as any in this class – a used Polo will always be a draw. VWs aren’t the cheapest to buy and service, however, but if you want the VW badge there’s no point in us reminding you about the Skoda Fabia. Particularly as the refreshed looks at last give it the sector status you'd expect from a VW.