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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Polo
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
VW is making a song and dance of the customisation options – many sorts of seat fabric and coloured strips across the dash and garnishing the doors. Some might be a bit too sudden in hue though, and history shows that whenever a car is launched with such a choice, customers stubbornly choose monochrome.
The cabin finishes seem robust and fit well together, but for a VW there’s a lot of hard plastic – the entire door casings for instance. It’s hard to spot much perceived-quality uplift over the Ibiza.
One difference in design: the Polo puts its infotainment screen above the central air vents, while in the Ibiza it’s the vents on top. On a hot day the Polo’s habit of cooling your belly is a disconcerting. The rest of the time it’s an easier job to read and reach the VW’s screen than the Seat’s.
This top-version eight-inch setup is excellent, with fine graphics and easy inputs: hard knobs control volume and map zoom, and there are also hardware controls for the climate. The screen has proximity sensors, so when your fingers get close it brings up extra menu options, but otherwise has a clean layout that devotes almost all its area to the map – or music track or whatever else you’ve chosen to view.
The screen will also now run phone mirroring – Apple and Android.
The optional active matrix instrument display will also show a widescreen map. But, er, why? It defaults to a heading-up orientation, so all it shows you is a lot of the roads either side of you and very little of those up ahead. A heading-up map should be taller than it is wide. Duh.
In the end then we found ourselves, as with almost all TFT instrument displays, coming back to a view that simulates traditional dials. So just save your money and take the actual real-life dials that come as standard.
The Polo’s front seats are the right shape and can be adjusted into exactly the right place for almost any driver. All the pedals and small controls are easily got at too.
Open the wide back door and yes it’s roomy there too. As roomy as the Ibiza, which means plenty leg, head and foot space for at least two grownups in the back seat. The boot too is substantially bigger than it was in the old Polo, with a two-level floor if you don’t have the Beats edition’s subwoofer that bolts underneath.
The Beats sound system by the way has a clear treble but an indiscriminate tide of bass.