Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
With only 94bhp, the Volkswagen Polo's entry-level 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (badged TSI 95) might appear to be a bit weedy, but it’s actually the pick of the range. It really shines around town – where the boost from its turbocharger pulls you strongly from low revs – yet it has the legs to sit comfortably at fast motorway speeds. In fact, it makes the more powerful 1.0 TSI 110 seem an unnecessary expense.
The cheapest engine in the Polo range is the 1.0 80 Evo. However, this engine doesn't have a turbocharger, so it needs working hard to get the best from it – and, even then, acceleration is somewhat pedestrian.
Meanwhile, if you want hot hatch performance from your Polo, you can read about the GTI version in our separate review.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Polo is one of the smoothest-riding cars in the class. Around town, it deals with pockmarked roads better than the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza, and even if you happen across a particularly nasty crater, the Polo stays surprisingly composed. Only the most comfort-oriented versions of the Peugeot 208 offer a smoother ride.
It’s a similar story when you venture onto the motorway. The Polo remains calm enough, with only a tiny amount of fidgeting over small imperfections – something pretty much all small cars are prone to. Indeed, on smoother stretches of road you could be mistaken for thinking you’re driving a car from the class above.
If you really enjoy driving and want something fun and agile, you'd be better off looking at the Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza. Their firmer suspension, sharper steering and more playful handling make them more fun on twisty roads.
But that’s not to say the Polo isn’t competent through the corners. It’s surefooted, with plenty of grip and well-weighted steering that allows you to thread it confidently through a series of bends – even at quite fast speeds. So, if you simply want something that’s composed and easy to drive, you’ll be quite happy.
Noise and vibration
Although the Polo's engines make themselves heard when you're accelerating, you don't feel much engine vibration filtering up through the pedals or the steering wheel.
The Polo also does a better job than most rivals, even the Peugeot 208 let alone the Toyota Yaris, at suppressing wind and road noise on the motorway.
Better still, the manual gearbox is slick and the Polo is easy to drive smoothly. However, if you go for the optional seven-speed automatic (DSG) gearbox, it can be a little jerky at very low speeds – a bit of nuisance when parking or in stop-start traffic.
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