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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Classy; spacious; well built: comfortable ride

Against Rivals are better to drive; high price

Verdict Costly, but you get what you pay for

Go for… 1.4 SE

Avoid… 1.2 S

Volkswagen Polo Hatchback
  • 1. The Polo beats rivals such as the Ford Fiesta for passenger space, with plenty of room in both the front and rear
  • 2. The five-door Polo is more practical than the three-door model, with good access to the rear seats and stronger resale values
  • 3. The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine comes with 59bhp or 69bhp, but we’d avoid both – instead, look for the 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine
  • 4. The front tyres can wear quickly, in some cases in fewer than 8000 miles
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Volkswagen Polo Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Volkswagen Polo distils much of what’s great about its larger sibling, the Golf, into a desirable supermini-sized package.

The cabin feels well built, with upmarket materials and a logical layout, even if it isn't the most exciting. A wide range of seat- and steering wheel adjustment ensures that drivers of all sizes can get comfortable. All-round visibility is excellent, too.

The Polo beats rivals such as the Ford Fiesta for passenger space, with plenty of room in both the front and rear. The boot is a decent 280 litres, and with split-folding rear seats as standard, you can boost luggage space to 952 litres. There's also a clever split-level boot floor that creates an additional storage area.

VW's supermini is satisfying to drive, albeit not as sharp-handling as some rivals. There is some body lean when cornering, but it copes with poor surfaces well. The light steering is short on feel, but this makes the car easy to manoeuvre at low speeds. Wind- and road noise is noticeable only at higher speeds.

Trade view

Stick with the 1.4-litre petrol model, which is reasonably priced are fairly efficient.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The five-door Polo is more practical than the three-door model, with good access to the rear seats and stronger resale values.

The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine comes with 59bhp or 69bhp, but we’d avoid both; they’re underpowered, unrefined and not that efficient. Instead, look for the 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine. It’s not as common as the 1.2-litre, but has decent torque and makes the Polo fun to drive. There are also two TSI engines; a turbocharged 103bhp 1.2-litre and a turbocharged and supercharged 178bhp 1.4-litre fitted in the GTI.

It's also worth considering the efficient 1.2- or 1.6-litre diesels, but they're more expensive and you’ll have to cover significant mileage before your fuel saving offsets the higher purchase price. There’s also an ultra-efficient Bluemotion model.

The entry-level S trim comes with electric front windows and a CD player, but we'd avoid this and look for SE cars. This adds alloys, air-con, higher-grade cabin trim, electronic stability control and an MP3-compatible stereo.

The Polo has a five-star crash-test rating and six airbags as standard.

Trade view

The Polo is a posh supermini that's also a great-value used buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

One drawback with buying a Polo is that it costs more than other superminis. However, strong resale values mean you’ll lose less to depreciation when you sell it on.

The 1.2-litre petrol models manage 51.4mpg, but the 1.4-litre isn’t far behind at 47.9mpg. The two TSI engines beat that, though, with the 1.2-litre averaging 53.3mpg and the 1.4-litre 47.9mpg.

The diesels average 72.4mpg from the 1.2-litre and 65.7mpg from the 1.6. The 1.2-litre Bluemotion beats them all with 80.7mpg.

The Bluemotion emits 91g/km, while the 1.2 produces 102g/km and the 1.6 generates 112g/km. The petrol models aren’t that far behind, with the 1.4-litre the worst at 139g/km.

The Polo is reasonable to insure, with most versions ranging from group 4-13. The exception is the GTI variant, which has a lofty group 30 rating.

Many will be surprised to learn that the Polo should cost less to service than rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

Trade view

Stick with the 1.4-litre petrol model, which is reasonably priced are fairly efficient.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The front tyres can wear quickly, in some cases in fewer than 8000 miles.

There’s a dealer service action for the 1.4-litre petrol, requiring the car’s ECU to be reprogrammed. However, it isn't classed as an official recall, so check with a dealer to make sure the work has been carried out.

The 1.6-litre diesel is prone to a fault that makes it stall at junctions, while the 1.2-litre develops a problem with the EGR valve, which is part of the exhaust system. There are also isolated cases of heavy oil consumption and engine failures in TSI models.

Trade view

The Polo is a posh supermini that's also a great-value used buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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