Volkswagen Polo Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Car Review

Volkswagen Polo review

£15,185 - £27,425
Published: 26 Jan 2023


What is it like to drive?

In some ways the Polo’s engine (GTI aside) is the weakest part of the suave image the car has tried to cultivate for itself. It has sensible road manners and behaves well on the motorway, but despite VW’s best efforts to smother the engine note you still get that distinctive 3cyl thrum and eagerness to rev.

A sporty sound out of the exhaust promises more than the car can deliver short of GTI spec, but you won’t feel short-changed by the Polo’s sophisticated drive. 

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The 93bhp version of the 1.0 is our favourite, with the best blend of performance, flexibility and economy. The entry engine is very sluggish, while the more powerful options don’t offer you a great deal to outweigh the loss in fuel economy. The DSG auto is a smooth operator, even if it does occasionally get caught out around town when the stop/start has kicked in. We’d go for the manual, personally. 

Is the Polo comfortable?

It’s very pleasantly comfortable – the conservative interior lacks bells and whistles of rivals, but it makes it feel grown-up. More on that under the Interior tab.

There’s a bit of fuss from the suspension around town, but the Polo resists roll around town and feels light and agile. It’s solid at a motorway cruise, too, settling in well with not too much in the way of suspension or tyre noise. It’s not a speedy overtaker, but that isn’t its thing: it’s solid and refined, as you’d expect from a VW.

How does it handle? 

It’s not that the Polo isn’t capable, but you do get the overriding impression that comfort takes priority. The lightweight steering, for example, which although slightly lacking in terms of any feel, makes it perfect for the dull day to day grind of life around town.

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If you’re looking for a supermini you’ll have more confidence to chuck around, the Ford Fiesta edges it. But that’s long been its key selling point over its rivals, and that doesn't make the Polo a poor choice in comparison. Ultimately which you buy comes down to preference.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Volkswagen Polo 2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG
  • 0-626.5s
  • CO2
  • BHP207
  • MPG
  • Price£27,425

the cheapest

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 EVO 80 SE 5dr
  • 0-6215.4s
  • CO2106.0g/km
  • BHP80
  • MPG61.4
  • Price£16,060

the greenest

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 SEL 5dr
  • 0-6210.8s
  • CO2104.0g/km
  • BHP95
  • MPG
  • Price£18,915
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