- We like...So classy
- We don't...Entry 1.2 is too slow
New, fifth-generation Polo looks a dead-ringer for the latest Golf. Right now, it's the classiest small car you can buyWhen you hit on a winner, it’s wise to stick with it. That pretty much sums up Volkswagen’s take on its newest Polo. Its new sharp-suited Golf is already Europe’s favourite car. Meanwhile, the existing Polo last year found close on 36,000 UK buyers, putting it among the top sellers.
So, the new, fifth-gen car keeps close to what every Polo owner holds dear – but it’s also the spitting image of the current Golf. While few parts aside from say, the light switches, are taken over from one to the other, the resemblance is striking.
Like the Golf, the Polo is longer, wider and lower than before. Although it now looks a big car it’s actually only the same size as key rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall’s Corsa. Despite its lower stance you won’t notice any less headroom but there is sensible room for five and a generous boot, which VW has made more useful by adding a removable shelf.
What you will notice is the way the cabin quality has jumped a step. The dash is now covered with expensive, soft feel textured plastic, while the heater controls and air vents gain classy chromed inserts. All is dark and sober so, while it looks good it won’t do if you’re the sort who prefers design to make you smile.
For now, all Polos are five-door, although three-door models will follow shortly. You pick from five engines; 1.2 petrols developing 60 and 70bhp and a 1.4 giving 84bhp, plus 1.6 diesels giving 75 or 90bhp. Trim levels start with S, moving to Moda (a new one for VW, aimed at younger drivers), SE and SEL.
VW expects four of five Polos to sell with a petrol engine, with the 1.2 60bhp SE 5dr as top seller.
We tried the 1.2 60bhp Moda. This costs the same as the SE, ds without air conditioning as standard kit but adds fog lamps, darkened rear windows and a MP3 player jack. This car rides fluently, soaking up even badly surfaced roads. It’ll string through a series of bends easily, too. The steering feels light and reasonably accurate, though it lacks the same last degree of precision you’ll find in a Fiesta. The engine, meanwhile, is a cheerful little unit, its three cylinders burbling away as you rev it. The new car is lighter than the one it replaces but its 60bhp isn’t enough to shift it along with any verve, even with just the driver aboard. Load it up with people and things and it will really struggle. The 1.2 70bhp, which we also tried, has noticeably more pep and, since it is as economical and posts the same CO2 figures as the 60bhp, it’ll definitely be the one to have.
That or the 1.6 75bhp diesel, which we also had some time in. This cracks along nicely, has (just) enough power to lug it up a steep hill without dropping more a single gear and is quieter at 70mph than the petrol. There’ll be a Bluemotion (eco-friendly) version along next year, but for now this car’s 65mpg and 112g/km of CO2 is good.
Should you buy one? Like a shot. This new car is now the classiest small car, bar none. Spend time in one and its mix of talents is such that, even if you’re more accustomed to bigger, flashier machinery, you’ll find yourself seriously wondering whether this could be all the car you’ll ever need.
To view and buy new and second-hand Volkswagen Polos, click on to motors.co.uk
- Engines1.2, 1.4 petrol; 1.6 diesel
- 0-60 mph16.1secs-11.9secs
- Insurance groups2-4
Motors.co.uk value verdict: