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Volkswagen Polo

7/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Polo

£15,185£23,255

Driving

What is it like on the road?

Volkswagen Polo front quarter

The people behind the car talk endlessly of the space and the tech, and rather less of the underlying mechanical engineering. Small wonder, because it’s pretty straightforward. The chassis for instance is supermini-default MacPherson front struts and torsion beam rear axle. But those elements have been well developed, and they work better because they’re bolted to a more rigid body.

It feels like a bigger-than-supermini car. There’s a small amount of commotion from the suspension at low speed but above 30mph or so the ride is soft and plush with the standard ‘comfort’ suspension fitted, and there’s very little suspension or tyre noise.

It’s solid and refined. You expect that of a Polo and you get it.

The optional ‘sports’ suspension brings a body 15mm closer to the ground, and better damping control and even more sense of stability. The comfort option does float a little, so the sport might be the option to have, but we’re saying this based only on a drive on busy German roads, so wait for updates when we’ve had the Polo on home territory. Cornering with vim doesn’t bring a lot of roll or understeer.

A final suspension option is switchable dampers, under the control of a mode selector that also controls throttle and (if DSG) transmission mapping, steering lightness and so on. But the dampers are only two-state switchable, not adaptive, so you’ll probably be jabbing at the switch too often in your early miles. Then you’ll give up and leave it in one state or the other, only to be continually pricked with discontent about being in the wrong setting.

We tried the 1.0 turbo engine in its first UK spec, which is 95bhp. It’s quiet for a supermini, if more chattery than it is in a Golf. It’s alert and progressive to your right foot, though not immune to little jerks as you come off the pedal at urban-crawl speed. It gets a five-speed manual box, and makes 0-62mph in 10.8 sec and 101g/km if you have smaller tyres.

Coming a few weeks later is a 115bhp version of the same thing: we tried that too, but VW isn’t releasing performance or economy numbers yet. This one spins more freely and its six-speed closes up the gears. We also tried that with a DSG transmission, a very smooth operator mostly, except when moving away from a town junction when the idle-stop has cut in. Then you get a delay followed by a shove. Most unseemly.

Then the diesel: it’s pretty quiet for its type, and muscular, but why have one? The petrols are more civilised, more fun and you’ll get 40-45mpg from them.

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