Volkswagen Polo Hatchback (94 - 02) Owner reviews

No longer on sale

Average. Everything is average, it drives ok, it brakes ok, nothing has broken in 3 years, yet I am glad to hand it back. It averages around 50MPG, and is very noisy, painfully so on motorways. The engine is underpowered & trying to reverse up an incline requires you to slip the clutch or it will stall. It's worst failing in my eyes is one nobody seems to mention, it is very narrow, as a driver you get little space, the passenger is on top of you, you cannot traverse speed humps in the middle of roads at the speed of other traffic, the cars track is too narrow. There are many better cars & I am surprised it gets 4 reviews, it is a 3 car.

David Munday, October 17th 2014

TDI Match 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG52 mpg

Bought this car to replace my previous 1.2 TDI Bluemotion that unfortunately was written off. Great car to drive, good handling and low road noise on motorway journeys. Good spec, DAB radio, cruise control, parking sensors as standard. Deceptively large boot especially with the split rear seats folded down. Managed to transport a 46" plasma tv last weekend AND a baby in a car seat with the seats folded down. My only gripes are very minor. The economy isnt as good as the Bluemotion, a good 10mpg less real world, tho still getting 60mpg. Second gripe is if you get your gear changes/revs wrong there is zero power and you can really struggle to accelerate. I found this also with the Bluemotion that the gear ratios were insane, you could easily do 50 in second, the engine likes low gears.

Justin Swords, July 2nd 2014

TDI Match 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG60 mpg

I've owned this version of the Polo for three years since new and it provides effective and hassle-free (albeit unexciting) transport. The car looks smart in SEL trim with 16 inch wheels and the interior is very solid with no significant rattles at three years old. Interior space is fine in the front but a bit cramped in the back for adults. It generally has a very high quality feel for a supermini and I've not experienced any serious faults. It's main weaknesses are on the road. I find the (now replaced) 1.4 engine gutless off the line, with a narrow power band that only arrives above 2,500 RPM. This makes it quite hard work to drive at times in urban traffic. The ride quality on 16 inch wheels is also fairly poor on London roads, feeling brittle and uncomfortable. The steering is very direct, but also too light, and the car leans quite heavily into corners for a supermini. It's at its best on the motorway, where the engine is in its power band and the ride smoother. I general I feel the Polo, like most VWs, is a car for those who aren't interested in cars other than as functional transport appliances. In these terms it's a high quality product, but I will look elsewhere for my next car.

Jonathan Lucas, June 26th 2014

SEL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG41 mpg

Having run into a small amount of money, I decided to have an early (mid-30s) mid life crisis and buy something a little bit irresponsible. I absolutely didn't want a car I had to argue with or reign in on an early morning commute but I did want a load of performance when I was in the mood. I suppose I've always been a would be Golf GTi owner but just can't justify that. I looked at a number of options and then saw the Polo GTi. Frankly, the moment I saw the plaid seats, thedetail on the air inlets and the wheels, I wad pretty much sold already. This car is much more that that though. When you just want a comfortable small car (with surprisingly good economy)-that's exactly what it is. When you want to teach the ASBO in the Subaru a thing or two on the bypass though, this thing is insane. In some ways the fairly low key styling makes the car more fun. Other drivers just don't see it coming. As for the DSG gearbox-I think it's incredible-you just point and shoot. After around 18 months I have had exactly 0 serious faults. I've had a creak/squeak or two in the cabin, thus the dropped star. Make no mistake, I'm no VW bore, in fact this is my first. I like this car far more than the ten or so I've had before and will probably just buy another in a year or two (if my budget doesn't stretch to the Golf GTi!!). I thought about the equivalent SEAT and Skoda, but here's the thing-this is a little GTi, and they're just not.

Greg Ayres, Somerset, March 27th 2014

TSI 180 GTI 3dr DSG

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG38 mpg

This Polo 1.4 CL 5-door 1997 has never failed to start or run even when badly neglected service-wise. It is very nippy for a 1.4 and is very quick off the mark - surprisingly so in fact. Fuel consumption is not the best in its class but it is by no means a gas-guzzler. I wanted another car but realised it would be best to spend the money on getting this Polo up to scratch - a car that always starts has to be an asset, right? So I've spent the thick end of a grand on it in the hope that it will see me through for another year or two at least. It is very happy to waft up and down motorways at 60 or so - it doesn't like 80-90 mph as the engine revs too high and the cabin noise becomes intrusive. Long journeys also make my right leg numb (I'm 6'2") but this could be more to do with my bad circulation than any fault with the seating arrangements. It is a perfect city car though and is quite narrow, so can get through small gaps with ease. Having said this, it is possible to load it up as you would a small van with the back seats down. It can carry a surprising amount of gear. Just make sure you get the 5-door hatchback. So in conclusion, if you're not a boy racer and want an affordabl, reliable car that doesn't cost the earth to run then look no further. Polos of this age are cheap to buy and cheap to run and the famous VW build quality shines through. Recommended.

Mark Smith, Greater London, September 25th 2013

CL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG36 mpg

High quality interior that looks great in the showroom, on the road it's a different story. Restless fidgety suspension on anything other than a flat level surface that highlights the short wheelbase. Brakes are grabby and spongy which makes parking uncomfortable the accelerator pedal feels like its attached to a sponge. The DSG gearbox is completely brainless on hills and soon becomes tiring although it does upshifts remarkable smoothly. Steering is too light with no feel. The engine is the best part of the car smooth and willing. Some rust starting to appear on the underside of the bonnet where the supporting panels look awfully light. Not a nice drive then although I have to say I find it better as a passenger when my wife is driving. If this is the best supermini the rest must be awful. A car I dislike driving and not one for a long journey.

Campbell Cowan, July 29th 2013

SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict2/5
  • What it's like to drive2/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality2/5
  • Average MPG45 mpg

It's dull, low-powered and a bit expensive compared to something like a Skoda Fabia, which is much nicer in every respect. You pay for the badge. On the good side, it will just about keep up with traffic when accelerating away from fast dual carriageway roundabouts if you thrash it to 4500rpm between gearchanges, and it will still return the claimed economy of just over 51mpg. The tiny 3-cylinder engine is quiet and the car is quite refined when cruising at 70mph but it makes an unpleasant noise - not loud, just buzzy and edgy - when worked. It doesn't feel at all slow at town speeds. Grip is good but there is oodles of body roll in corners and the seats don't stop you sliding around. There isn't much space inside and I'm sure the boot is smaller than in my MX-5. The interior is typical VW, uniformly black with nasty-looking fabrics and the most boring dashboard imaginable. it all works fine and feels logical, though. I suppose people buy these for the badge, but a Fabia or a Fiesta is much better. The better residuals are only useful if they offset the higher purchase price, which they probably don't for private buyers. Also, VWs are distinctly average for reliability and in that respect you're much better off with the Skoda.

Roger Cantwell, June 12th 2013

60 S 5dr [AC]

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive2/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality2/5
  • Average MPG51.4 mpg

Bought this for my son (lucky devil). A friend has the 1.2 turbo auto version with leather which is a lovely car so we checked this one out. It took a week to get as it was in stock. Quoted 12 weeks to get a different spec/colour, which seems average for German cars. The press reckon the 3 cylinder 1.2 Polo engines are underpowered and noisy. I wholeheartedly disagree. It can sound a little throaty if you gun it but that's no big deal. It cruises very quietly, has easily enough power and accelerates perfectly quickly. The steering is very precise and it's ride is sublime for such a small car - this year's potholes are the worst in memory yet it soaks them up easily (unlike our Alfa Mito or my daughter's Fiat 500). The Polo beautifully put together; solid and rattle-free. Very comfy seats and easily enough room for 5 with plenty of boot space. Nice dash, soft plastics, loads of toys and safety features and a great stereo with DAB radio. Absolutely brilliant. It is without doubt, the best small car I've ever had (well, ok, it's my son's) and I could not recommend it highly enough. Only had it a few weeks so can't vouch for the running costs, reliability or dealer service. We're getting about 42 mpg at the moment but have done only short runs.

Jeff Ward, May 24th 2013

60 S 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG42 mpg

I have the DSG version of this car I'll start off by saying it is a very nice and smooth car to drive, considering it's size. It copes well with motorways, A-roads and city driving. It has reasonably enough power to get you out of trouble provided that you make good use of the drop gear button at the end of the throttle pedal, and that you don't have more than three occupants (including yourself) in the car. Now to the handling. The simple fact is that it has quite a bit of body lean, when dealing with turns at 30ish mph you can feel the body tipping over to one side, accompanied by the good old tyre squeal! The body lean also makes it quite difficult to dodge from say, one direction to another. But to be fair, it's not terrible and the car obviously hasn't been designed to be driven that way as i believe the designers put the most emphasis on fuel economy and comfort. The steering doesn't provide much feedback (this doesn't bother me though), and it also uses an electric motor for the power steering which effectively turns off once you get going, thus causing the inconsistent feeling of the steering getting stiffer when moving, and lighter when slow/stationary. Here's a few design faults .Windscreen wiper wont lift up whist in the down position (blocked by bonnet) .Gear knob on DSG model blocks cup holder when in "Park" position .3door version driver seat headrest hits horn when forward to let passengers in/out .DSG gearbox had one day it kept shuddering

Rodney Lee, May 4th 2013

60 S 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG45 mpg

It is now a month since I took delivery of the Polo Blue GT140 and what can I say it is probably one of the most astonishing small cars on the road 0-60 in under 8 seconds, 130mph, Β£20 RFL and easily 50+ to the gallon, just driving locally it is registering 45+ per gallon and it is still loosening up and I'm not driving like Miss Daisy. I brought the car by description only, in brochure and reading about it on line, yes it is on the pricey side but the savings in RFL and Fuel certainly make up for the initial cost. If you want a car that makes you smile everytime you drive it, this is the one for you. The acceleration in 2&3rd is quite breathtaking and yet the car is so discreet people think it's a Polo, it certainly is but a very special one. The cost mainly is down to the ACT 'Active Cylinder Technology' which effectively shuts down cylinders 2 and 3 when cruising and under little load on engine, it quite happily cruises in 6th at 70MPH on only two cylinders, you don't need to be a genius to work out how much fuel you are saving, put you foot down and the change from 2 to 4 cylinders is pretty much seamless and off she flies! Sport seats are comfy and supportive, reasonable room for 4 adults, good size boot and a very impressive dash layout. After 30+ years of Fords (4 Focus since 1999) something special would need drag me away from the blue oval and this little terrier was it. There are faster small cars and there more frugal small cars but the Polo Blue GT does both!

Vince Jackson, West Sussex, March 7th 2013

TSI ACT BlueGT 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

My Polo is a company lease car which I selected due to the low lease costs, possibly due to high residuals later. The Bluemotion came out more expensive due to higher list price and had much less kit anyway. At first I was quite shocked at the lack of power particularly at low revs, but after 9 months (has finally loosened up) it is really good, especially when the turbo kicks in. The gear ratios are not as long as the Bluemotion (they are long enough) which makes it brisker. It is no 1.6TDi but feels like you would expect the 1.4 to feel which it replaced. I am very pleased with the smoothness of the 3 cylinder unit, it is very sweet and free revving and does not rattle. It does rattle into life first thing when cranking up but that is all. The only minus is the steering which is a bit wooley, takes some getting used to but the handling is ok. Inside it is very well trimmed, the Match model is very well specked, rear electric windows, rear privacy glass, spare wheel, split level boot, USB connection on stereo in glove box. It is very comfy and well made and solid. The fuel consumption has also improved slightly as it has run in, but be aware it is nowhere near that as specified on paper. The mixed 72MPG is only really achievable on the motorway or long runs. More realistically I get around 58-62MPG on the mixed, with more like 52-55MPG in more local winter driving. It's still good compared to the 1.4 petrol unit is seems. Overall I'm very pleased with the whole package.

Stuart Leatherbarrow, Chester, February 14th 2013

TDI Match 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG60 mpg

I acquired a new VW Polo 1.2 last November and it has been SHOCKINGLY UNRELIABLE! I have just left a dealer after my 4TH visit for repairs. 1st: engine mgmt electics failure. 2nd: lighting circuit failure and 3rd: paint flaking off poorly painted rear bumper - the factory forgot to apply the undercoat. 4th: washer motor failure. Furthermore, the deadlock doesn't disengage properly, meaning the bootlid often doesn't close properly, requiring several attempts to close and lock. MY ADVICE? DO NOT BUY A VOLKSWAGEN POLO!

Christian Rayner, Londonshire, December 27th 2012

60 Match 5dr

  • Overall verdict1/5
  • What it's like to drive2/5
  • Running costs1/5
  • Quality1/5
  • Average MPG43 mpg

I had this car for 5 years from 2007 and just selling it now. Over 100,000 miles clocked up and no timing belt change needed (uses a chain). All over it's a decent car to drive and comfortable. It's economical over short distances but only if driving under 100kph (over that it EATS petrol). I've gotten good reliability out of the car with very little attention. The one problem I did have with it was the cost of maintenance. The bushes which mute the engine vibration fail and crack when going over rough terrain or bad roads and I had to change these several times over my span with the car and the maintenance at times in servicing was expensive I think compared to other cars which never experienced such issues. Then the roads in Ireland are bad so maintenance costs will be higher. The tracking was off a few times too on the car as a result and had to be corrected. But overall - it served me well for the years I had it and would definitely recommend it as an ideal starter car or short commuter but definitely not for long distance or high speed.

Anthony Forrest, Cork, November 17th 2012

E 55 3dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs2/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG47 mpg

Got this car 1996 second hand in 2012, best car so far. Drives brilliantly with a nice bit of go in her for a 1.4 The interior is nicely designed with more storage that other cars for the age

Ashley Arthur, dorset, September 14th 2012

CL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG42.8 mpg

I have a 90 mile round trip commute every day. I figured that I needed a much more efficient car, so I went for this one. This is a car built for a purpose - fuel efficiency. This is what it does well. Commuting I am getting 70mpg, however on a longer run, I achieved 79MPG on a 550 mile drive through scotland, the motorway portion of this I calculated as being 89MPG. This wasn't going too fast and constant speed on cruise control. The downside of this is that the car can be quite slow, especially when accelerating uphill. This is a small price to pay. It can be nippy if you go into higher revs, but this wouldn't be fuel efficient. The car feels well built, and the features are pretty good (especially the cruise control and trip computer). It could have done with bluetooth as standard - especially on a car that is ideal for munching up miles on the motorway. The cabin is very comfortable, and there is enough space for the driver and a front passenger. There is plenty of space for rear passengers if your front passengers aren't too tall (or the rear ones aren't). The front arm rest is useful. The two issues I have with the interior is that the rear view mirror is so low down, it can impair visibility. The B pillars also cause problems for visibility with the seats right back. Overall, fantastic car if you are doing a lot of miles on motorways and good A roads. If you are driving around the town, or don't do that many miles, the bluemotion polo will

Ian Ferguson, June 27th 2012

TDI Bluemotion 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG70 mpg

I hired this car in Spain for a week and drove about 300 miles including two 1.5 hour drives. I understand it's quite an expensive car and as such I do not rate the interior plastics in the cabin highly. Considering it's trying to be a more up market car (over the Fiesta for example) the quality of the interior plastics are not the best (say for example, over the Golf MK4 which I owned from new and was the same price as this 10 years ago). The leather steering wheel feels nice though. The drive though is very nice and assured, excellent cornering and good acceleration when needed, fantastic economy and good (but not the best) all round visibility. The brakes are quite sharp and sudden and needed to be treated fairly gently. The seats are comfortable (lumbar support would have been nice) but the angle of the headrests cannot be adjusted, the can only go up or down. I noticed one element from the old Golf MK4 is used on this car, the door handles are the same! Would I buy? If VW threw in some extras such as steering wheel controls, climatic aircon over the manual aircon and DAB digital radio, yes!

Marcus Davey, March 30th 2012

60 S 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG51 mpg

I drove one of these cars when I was on holiday in South Africa. I usually drive a much more powerful diesel car in the UK so was interested in seeing what this car would be like. I had driven a Polo as a courtesy car when my car was in the bodyshop in the UK but I'm not sure which version it was. The one in South Africa which belonged to my niece was quite well specced - it had air conditioning and in a Cape Town summer one needs it. I found it quite nippy in town traffic but one had to use the gears to get good performance especially on hills. On the motorway it lacked acceleration in 5th gear (now I know why I have a bigger diesel car!) - on the equivalent of A-roads one has to plan one's overtaking manouvres. Although I didn't test economy it didn't seem to use much petrol - nor did the one I had as a courtesy car in the UK. A pleasant small car which I would happily recommend to anyone looking for a car of this type - appeared to be well assembled and is economical. And no, my main car isn't a VW or an Audi. Ignore the MPG I didn't measure it but I can't submit this review unless I put in a figure.

Ian Burgess, February 28th 2012

SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG47.9 mpg

Bought the Polo new in October 2011. I used to own a Golf Match and was expecting a similar level of equipment, this isn't the case with the Polo. No automatic lights, wipers or rear view dimming mirror. In fact cruise control is extra! However, the car is fantastic to drive and operate. Everything is well laid out and the sound system is excellent. It's a minature Golf in every sense. Well built with a good solid feel. Typical German engineering.I bought it with the 7speed DSG box ( my Golf had the 6speed) and truly can't fault the transmission at all. Its a joy and makes driving so easy. So is there anything bad about this car? Just two gripes. The door pockets are narrow and its difficult to grap objects with your hand. You have to slide them across to the slightly wider part of the pocket to be able to get at them. Secondly the numb USB device in the glovebox. Its on a lead that you plug into! Why not just have a slot on the fascia or down by the gearshift?

David Kiely, Durham, November 27th 2011

Match 3dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Traded in my fox for a polo (1.2s), as I couldn't stand the way the fox handled on country roads any longer (though it had its good points). The (new) polo is a very refined car; lovely, soft plastics, gentle rumble (no whine, as in the fox) of an engine (in fact, the 1.2 sounds more like an upmarket diesel than a petrol). Arguably it is very slightly underpowered; you do have to be very careful about your gear choice, but it's not a major deal. It handles beautifully, the steering is perfectly weighted, not too light (like the fox was). It's quiet, it's comfortable, it's relaxing, it's as close to a long-distance cruiser as a small, economical car can be. And it's got a nice, big boot. Downsides? Well, ok, a horrible(ish), spongy gearbox.

Roderick Mathison, November 25th 2011

60 S 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG50 mpg

The Polo is outstanding in almost every area. I’ve owned this car for 6 months now and couldn’t be more satisfied with how it’s performed. The quality is undoubtedly the best thing about this car and no rival can come close to matching the Volkswagen’s desirability. The SE spec I went for delivers everything you need whilst the 1.4 engine is both economical and hushed, if a little slow to rev. I’d always recommend going for the five door model as practicality is far superior and getting in and out of the back is much easier for passengers. The boot is perfectly sized and well shaped, and I find the false floor is also a useful addition. The sound system and speakers are particularly brilliant. My mpg is good too, with a motorway run easily reaching 50mpg; I normally squeeze 450 miles out of a full tank which is rather impressive as I rarely drive with economy in mind. The Polo drives well enough, although I do find the gear change a little imprecise – especially in comparison to my old Fiesta’s. The engine can become fairly vocal at times, too, but wind and road noise are very well subdued. All in all, the Polo is brilliant and far better than any of its rivals. Cars are never flawless, but the Polo comes very close to being the ideal supermini transport. A great all-rounder and an easy five star rating.

Michael Caffrey, Cheshire, August 29th 2011

SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG47 mpg