Volkswagen Polo driven

  • You'll like the economy and image
  • You won't like the price
  • On sale January 2010
Size doesn't matter any more, as the Volkswagen Polo's new TSI petrol engine proves.

Not so long ago, its modest 1.2-litre capacity would have placed it firmly in the 'entry-level' category. However, with the help of a turbocharger it pumps out 103bhp and 129lb ft of torque – 19bhp and 32lb ft more than the 1.4-litre model that's our current pick of the range.

On the road
Performance feels livelier at all speeds, but the gains are especially noticeable on the motorway, where you don't have to work the engine anything like as hard as the 1.4 to accelerate. This in turn boosts refinement, although the TSI stays pretty smooth and quiet even at high revs.

The good news keeps on coming, because it averages a highly impressive 53.3mpg. That's 5.1mpg more than the 1.4-litre unit, and even betters the non-turbo 1.2 petrol.

Volkswagen will launch the new engine in the three-door Polo, which goes on sale in January, but five-door buyers will also be offered it a few months later.

Great image – shame about the price
The rest of the Polo package remains as desirable as ever. You get a comfortable ride and secure handling; a simple, classy cabin with good space for people and their luggage; plus a desirable badge and strong resale values.

There just one catch: the price. The 1.2 TSI engine is limited to range-topping SEL trim, so the three-door version starts at a hefty £13,935; the five-door will be even more expensive. The size of your engine might not matter anymore, then, but the size of your bank balance does. SH

Our verdict
A great version of a great car; shame it's so expensive

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