Volkswagen Polo Hatchback full 9 point review
Entry-level petrol power comes from ageing 1.2-litre three-cylinder engines. The 84bhp 1.4 engine is better, while the torquey 1.2 turbo, the 1.4 turbo (which sometimes shuts off half its cylinders to save fuel) and the turbocharged and supercharged 1.4 in the GTI are stronger still. The diesel engine range includes 1.2- and 1.6-litre units, but the emphasis here is firmly on economy rather than performance.
Ride & Handling
The Polo isn't as much fun as a Ford Fiesta because there's a fair amount of body lean through bends and the steering has an inconsistent weighting that's feather-light one second and too heavy the next. Bumps can cause a bit of bounce, but the ride is otherwise supple and comfortable.
Some wind noise builds up at motorway speeds, but road noise is kept to a minimum and the 1.2 turbo and 1.4 turbo engines have so much oomph that you rarely need to rev them hard. The non-turbo 1.4 is also pretty refined, but the three-cylinder 1.2s are downright noisy. The diesels are disappointingly clattery and transmit some unpleasant vibrations through the pedals.
Buying & Owning
The Polo is affordable to buy and run; in fact, prices undercut those of several rivals. Some petrol versions are a tad thirsty, but the diesels are economical. What's more, few superminis have a better image or are as desirable, which explains why the Polo has some of the best resale values of any car in its class.
Quality & Reliability
There's little to rival the Polo for quality at this end of the market. All models have an impressively upmarket feel, with solid-feeling switchgear, and dense, soft-touch plastics covering the dashboard. The reliability record of Volkswagens is generally pretty solid, too, even if the Polo's reliability was rated as merely average in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
Curtain airbags cost extra, but every Polo has front and side airbags as standard, as well as stability control. It also scored five stars and an excellent 90% for adult safety in its Euro NCAP crash test. The usual deadlocks, visible vehicle identification number plate and security-etched parts are fitted as standard.
Behind The Wheel
Few superminis rival the Polo's simplicity and fine ergonomics. Clearly labelled instruments, large dials, buttons and switches, plus a well-ordered centre console all help make the Polo exceptionally user-friendly. There's a massive range of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, while all-round visibility is excellent.
Space & Practicality
The Polo has a decent amount of space in the front, but several rivals have more room in the back. The cabin is pleasantly airy, though. The boot isn't the biggest in the class, but it’s large enough for most people's needs. Some models have a false floor that can be removed to create a surprisingly deep hold, while you can also lift the rear seatbases and fold down the seatbacks to create more space.
The regular trims are S, Match, SEL and R-Line. S is pretty basic, so we'd go for Match trim, which has alloy wheels, air-con, remote central locking, electric rear windows (on five-door models) and rear parking sensors. SEL models have extra storage space and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. R-Line brings sporty visual touches, while the range-topping GTI models have an automatic gearbox as standard.