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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Style; solid build; resale values

Against Pricey to buy; average to drive

Verdict Classy and compact – a dependable car with plenty of cachet

Go for… 1.2 (69bhp) Match 5dr

Avoid… 1.9 TDI

Volkswagen Polo Hatchback
  • 1. The Polo is more about comfort than thrills, and the supple suspension provides a compliant ride in both town and on faster roads. The steering and controls are light, and help make low-speed manoeuvr
  • 2. You'll need to work the smaller petrol engines hard to make decent progress, and the diesel engines can sound gruff when pushed.
  • 3. Servicing costs and insurance are higher than they are for many rivals, but you can save money by using one of the many cheaper independent Volkswagen specialist garages.
  • 4. The interior generally feels durable, although the dashboard can rattle, especially around the centre console.
  • 5. Look for damaged paint – particularly stone chips and, in some cases, whole flakes peeling away. Bumpers and wheelarches are most venerable, so check these carefully.
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Volkswagen Polo Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Polo is more about comfort than thrills, and the supple suspension provides a compliant ride in both town and on faster roads. The steering and controls are light, and help make low-speed manoeuvring easy. If there is a hole in the Polo's repertoire, then it's the poor body control.

You'll need to work the smaller petrol engines hard to make decent progress, and the diesel engines can sound gruff when pushed. The GTI is a revelation compared with the standard cars, with greatly improved steering, tighter body control and more grip.

There's space for four adults inside, and the boot is a decent size and shape. Access isn't too bad in the three-door model, although the five-poor is much better for small families. Most of the cabin feels solid, although some of the materials could be better quality.

Trade view

Residual values are strong, but make sure you don't pay over the odds in the first place because of the VW badge on the front.

Rory White
Used car writer

With eight petrol and four diesel engines to choose from, you're spoilt for choice.

The 1.2-litre petrol comes with either 59bhp or 69bhp – the second is better thanks to the extra power, although neither is fast. The 75bhp 1.4 (80bhp after '06) is eager and economical, while the rarer 85bhp 1.4 FSI offers the best combination of power and economy. Next up is the 1.4-litre Sport with 100bhp, then the 104bhp 1.6. The GTI is fastest, with a turbocharged 148bhp 1.8-litre engine, plus honed suspension and brakes.

Diesel options are simpler: there's a 69bhp or 79bhp 1.4, or a 100bhp 1.9. In '07, the ultra-frugal Bluemotion version was launched with a 79bhp 1.4-litre engine delivering 74mpg on average and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

The entry-level E model is sparsely equipped, but the Match has alloys, air-con, electric front windows and a CD player. SE models add nice touches including driver's seat-height adjustment, and Sport models have fog lights and lowered suspension.

Trade view

Small but perfectly formed: the Polo is a solid and desirable supermini with bags more class than the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

Rory White
Used car writer

The Polo Bluemotion is head and shoulders above the others, with excellent economy, zero road tax and the best residual values. However, these do cost more to buy, so make sure your mileage justifies the extra outlay. Of the standard diesels, both 1.4s average around 60mpg, with the 1.9 at 56mpg.

Petrol models are best for those who do a low annual mileage, as their lower purchase price and cost of petrol fuel offsets the diesels' better economy. Both 1.2-litre petrols manage 48.7mpg, despite the more powerful version having 10bhp more. The 1.4 petrols aren't far behind at 44.8mpg. The GTI averages just 36.2mpg, but drive it like a hot hatch was designed to be and that will quickly drop.

Servicing costs and insurance are higher than they are for many rivals, but you can save money by using one of the many cheaper independent Volkswagen specialist garages.

Trade view

Residual values are strong, but make sure you don't pay over the odds in the first place because of the VW badge on the front.

Rory White
Used car writer

Despite the Polo's solid nature, it's not without its problems.

Look for damaged paint – particularly stone chips and, in some cases, whole flakes peeling away. Bumpers and wheelarches are most vulnerable, so check these carefully.

A dramatic drop in performance and a warning light on the dashboard can be caused by an ignition coil failure on petrol models. It's not that expensive to fix, but parts can be hard to find. A decent test drive should expose this problem.

The interior generally feels durable, although the dashboard can rattle, especially around the centre console. Again, a thorough test drive should expose any problems. The anti-lock braking control module can fail (signified by a warning light on the dashboard). Don't drive the car – it should be taken to a garage for repairs.

Trade view

Small but perfectly formed: the Polo is a solid and desirable supermini with bags more class than the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

Rory White
Used car writer
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