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Used Volkswagen Polo (09-17) long-term review

Does buying the last of the previous-generation Volkswagen Polo make more financial sense than a new one? And how does a small 1.0-litre engine cope with a myriad of real-world driving conditions? We have six months to find out

Words By Max Adams

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Used Volkswagen Polo long-term review
  • The car 2017 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 75 Match Edition
  • Run by Max Adams, used cars reporter
  • Why it’s here To find out if buying the old model makes better sense than the latest model
  • Needs to Cope with the daily commute on a mixture of motorway, dual carriageway and town traffic, along with occasional long-distance trips, and prove itself against the newer model

Price when new Β£15,505 Price on arrival Β£11,650Approx value now Β£10,069 Mileage on arrival 2276 Mileage now 7180Test fuel economy 47.1mpg Official fuel economy 58.9mpg

Prices based on a standard car with no optional extras

18 July 2018 – saying goodbye to the Volkswagen Polo

Firsts are always a big deal. The first time you ride a bike without stabilisers is certainly a big one, but this is probably because you no longer graze your knees. For most of us, our first car is often an important milestone. And, for me, the same was true of our used Volkswagen Polo, since it was my first long-term test car.

As first test cars go, this Polo was quite something. My actual first car was an old Vauxhall Corsa diesel. It still exists, despite being nearly 15 years old and having covered around 144K miles. In its day, my Elegance-spec Corsa was pretty well equipped, but our Match Edition Polo has a huge list of standard features that really shows how far small cars have come. It misses out on sat-nav, but it does get Car-Net, which allows you to pair your smartphone to the 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system. I found it to be incredibly useful, despite the small screen size, and it always worked with both of my phones.

The Polo also works remarkably well on long trips and acquitted itself with aplomb when I went with a friend to Belgium. Apart from the lack of adjustable lumbar support, the Polo is a perfectly comfortable place in which to spend time. Road and wind noise are surprisingly low for a small car and help to give the Polo a 'big car' feel. The only area where I wanted more was under the bonnet. The 74bhp 1.0-litre engine may be good for insurance reasons and is fine in town traffic, but it's a little out of its depth on faster roads. To make the most of the power and torque it has, the car has relatively short gearing to give reasonable acceleration. Trouble is, high engine speeds on the motorway do nothing for fuel economy. The best I got out of it was 51mpg on a run; quite a way off the extra-urban figure of 67.3mpg. I think that if you were to regularly travel further afield, you’d be better off with the more powerful and much quieter 89bhp 1.2 TSI unit.

I did have a few slight issues during my ownership. The driver’s seat creaked a bit, but I managed to fix it with some lubrication spray; and due to all the salt spread on the roads during the cold snap earlier in the year, I had to deal with three of the alloy wheels seizing to the car. But, apart from those problems, we got along swimmingly.

I even pitched it against the brand new Polo and found it to be more than a match against the new car. Plus, I worked out how much it would be to buy a used 1.2 TSI Match Edition example found on Volkswagen’s Das WeltAuto approved used website compared with a brand new Polo in our preferred spec. Even with a Β£1000 deposit contribution on the new purchase, I found that you’d be slightly better off financially going for the used option.

So, in answer to the question of whether or not going for a nearly new old Polo makes more sense than a brand new one: I think it has to be a yes. It may not make you rich, but you can at least save some money. You’ll be able to drive a car home straight away and not have to wait weeks – or possibly months, in the wake of WLTP updates – for your new car to show up. You also get the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty along with additional assurances from the approved used scheme. For those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford a new car, I suggest they take a good look at what’s available on the used car forecourt first before making their final decision.

As for our Polo, do I miss it? Yes. Sure, you’d never call it fast, but it did the job perfectly well and I found myself growing rather fond of it because there were lots on neat little touches that made life easy, setting it apart from rivals. True, a similarly aged Ford Fiesta is more fun to drive and can be had with a zesty 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine. But the Polo comprehensively beats the Fiesta in terms of infotainment and driver comfort. So if I were in the market for a used small car, I wouldn’t hesitate to go for a Polo.

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