What should I be paying?
There are four different flavours of Polo available – Life, Style, R-Line and GTI. The Life model starts at £19,505, Style and R-Line spec add £3k at £22,580 each (you can decide whether you want your Polo to look fancier or sportier) and the range-topping GTI is a heady £28,540.
There are four engine options available: the first three are variations on the same 1.0-litre 3cyl motor. In entry spec it’s normally aspirated and produces 79bhp in conjunction with a five-speed manual, then it gains a turbocharger to produce 93bhp (as well as a seven-speed DSG auto option) and adds around £1k to the Life car’s entry price, then another £1.4k for the DSG. More power is released in the 108bhp version, which bumps your R-Line to £25,150.
The 79bhp engine is only available in Life spec, the 93bhp engine in Life, Style or R-Line, while the 108bhp engine is only available in R-Line trim. Phew. The GTI model gets a 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol for 204bhp and auto box as standard.
What else do you get with the different trims?
The Life spec car comes with manual aircon, 15in wheels, LED headlights, 8in digital instrument panel and smartphone connectivity, while Style and R-Line models add 16in wheels, dual-zone aircon, interior ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors, 10.25in digital instrument panel, satnav and sports seats.
The latter two are placed on a Y-shaped range structure, designed to offer an option of a comfort-oriented car or something a bit sportier at the same price. There are some kit variations and exterior styling differences too. The Polo GTI gets the fanciest infotainment the Volkswagen parts bin can manage, some bespoke styling tweaks, 17in alloys and other GTI-appropriate touches.
What are the running costs like?
All engines (except the GTI’s motor) are rated at around 50mpg, and the Polo is frugal enough to make that happen for you. The GTI is officially rated at 41.3mpg and you’ll have a bit more trouble reaching that figure with all that perky performance on tap. You’d think going for the smallest engine would be best for fuel economy, but it’s the 93bhp engine that’s 2.5mpg better off on the WLTP test. It’s also five seconds quicker to 62mph, the less powerful unit having to be worked hard to get the car moving.
You get a three year/60,000 miles warranty and there’s the option of flexible servicing to make things easier. GTI aside, insurance costs are reasonably low across the range.
Which Polo should I go for?
All in, we’d probably recommend going for the 93bhp TSI engine combined with the five-speed manual gearbox in Life trim, which comes generously equipped for not a lot of money. It’s also the most frugal and eco-conscious here, offering 54.3mpg (realistic, we found) and CO2 emissions of 118g/km, and better yet, you won’t have to put up with the touch-sensitive climate controls. Win-win.