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First Drive: Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TSI ACT BlueGT 5dr

£19,015 when new

Car specifications

Budget
£19,015
Brake horsepower
150bhp
Fuel consumption
58.9mpg
0–62 mph
7.80s
CO2
110g/km
Max speed
137Mph
Insurance Group
23E

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What’s a Volkswagen Polo Blue GT, then?

In this Volkswagen Polo review we’re judging VW’s attempt to mate its fuel-sipping Bluemotion technology with the Polo GTI’s sportiness. Bluemotion is a badge you’re probably more familiar with from the back of lane-hogging Passat diesels, but this smartly appointed little Polo aims to change that.

Smoked headlights and a subtle bodykit echo the GTI, while big-car tech like adaptive cruise control and collision detection is available. And no, you don’t have to have it in blue…

I need some numbers.

Prices start at £17,860, making it £1000 cheaper than a Polo GTI. The Blue GT has a smaller, 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, which is 42bhp lighter, with 148bhp. Its 7.8sec 0-62mph time is a second behind the GTI, then, but its 60.1mpg fuel consumption and £20-a-year tax bill aim to make it far cheaper to run.

Such parsimony is helped along by cylinder deactivation. Two of the TSI engine’s four cylinders cut off under lighter throttle loads, such as when you’re cruising at sensible motorway speeds. Refinement doesn’t dip too much, and you’ll struggle to spot the switch initially.

Spend more time with the car and the subtle change to two-pot thrum becomes more perceptible, but it’s never offensive. And it actually serves to encourage greener (or should that be bluer?) driving, competitive instinct piqued as you seek to find the sweet spot where good progress can be made on half-power.

How does it drive?

It’s a comfortable and capable thing. They probably aren’t the exciting buzzwords you’d ask of a hot hatchback, but then this resolutely isn’t one, no matter how much of a visual impression it’s trying to pull off.

With a supple ride, light, intuitive steering and decent grip levels, it’s an easy car in which to make brisk progress, and easier still with the optional DSG paddleshift gearbox. VW’s ‘XDS’ electronic differential setup helps control power at the driven front axle, though the aggressive, front-end wrenching fun of a proper diff isn’t on the menu.

The engine feels as far off the GTI’s pace as its numbers suggest, and it’s not brimming with character. But it’s silky smooth and for those who care about cars, petrol remains infinitely preferable to diesel, especially in a car this small.

That’s all quite faint praise.

Yep, and it’s reflective of how we feel about this car. It’s pleasant - very pleasant, in fact - and if your heart’s set on one, there’s no chink in its armour significant enough for us to put you off.

But it’s hard to escape two things: the cheaper 1.2-litre petrol is very nearly as enjoyable to drive, and with our average consumption failing to top 45mpg, the Polo GTI isn’t as far off economically as the official stats portray. This is a Jack-of-all-trades that hasn’t really mastered any of them. The Polo is a very good car, but it remains best at the ends of its range rather than the middle.

What do you think?

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