Volkswagen Polo Review 2019

Find out more about the Volkswagen Polo in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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4
Out of 5
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  • Pros
  • - Practical cabin
  • - Excellent refinement for a supermini
  • - Lots of standard safety kit
  • Cons
  • - Top-spec versions are pricey
  • - Limited engine range
  • - Uninspiring design
  • MPG
    46 - 74
  • CO2
    99 - 138 g/km
Model Review

 

Whether it’s new drivers, small families or pensioners, the Polo has been the car of choice for a whole host of motorists over the decades.

 

It’s one of Volkswagen’s longest-running models and has been on sale continuously since 1975. The model is now in its sixth-generation, and since Volkswagen’s alliance with Seat, Skoda and Audi, it’s meant that the Polo has been morphed into the Skoda Fabia, Seat Ibiza and Audi A1, with all these four cars sharing parts.

 

There has been a variety of different Polos over the years —  most notably the Polo GTI, which was launched in 2006. Other variants include the rugged-looking Dune models, efficient Bluemotion variants as well as estate options in days gone by.

 

It’s now consistently one of the UK’s best-selling cars, and currently sits within the top 10

Latest model

 

Sales of the new sixth-generation Polo started in October 2017, with a key focus being improved interior storage space, which was one of the downfalls of the previous car. Boot space was increased massively, while a much longer wheelbase allowed for extra legroom.

 

Another area of change was the enhanced safety tech fitted to the Polo, with autonomous emergency braking and a driver attention alert both being fitted as standard.

 

Styling changes weren’t major, but the new Polo is noticeably bigger in size, largely because of the MQB A0 platform, which underpins the new Polo, as well as its sibling cars from Audi and Seat.

 

On the inside, the Polo’s interior looks far fresher, with its eight-inch touchscreen being well-incorporated into the dashboard, as well as new digital instrument displays.

 

Value for money

 

The Volkswagen Polo is priced near the top of the supermini class, with versions starting from £14,330 for a brand new model. This makes it more expensive than the Skoda Fabia, but cheaper than the starting prices of the Seat Ibiza and Audi A1, although these two cars are only offered with more powerful engines.

 

The Polo comes with a lot of kit for the money though. Standard ‘S’ cars benefit from a full-size spare wheel, automatic lights and an eight-inch touchscreen, although you have to spend a bit more money before you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, as well as alloy wheels. It’s easy to spec a model over £20,000, though, which is a lot of money for a car of this size.

 

On the used market, you can pick up older Polos from as little as £200, and the last-generation model from under £2,000. However, our main focus here is the latest model, which is still quite fresh into showrooms. That said, there’s still some fantastic savings to be had, even with Volkswagens traditionally holding their value quite well. We saw a one-year-old example in entry-level S trim for £10,500. Expect to pay £1,000 more for an SE version.

 

Looks and image

 

Unlike the bold-looking Seat Ibiza, the Polo is a more conservatively-styled supermini. But there’s nothing wrong with that, particularly if you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb on British roads. That said, should you want a bit more stylishness there’s the option of the Beats and R-Line trim levels. Beats brings specific badging and special decals, with R-Line coming with larger alloy wheels and an R-Line styling kit. It’s worth noting that all versions minus the entry-level ‘S’ come with alloy wheels.

 

One of the Polo’s stand-out features is its fantastic interior. It’s an area that Volkswagen consistently excels in and the Polo is no different. Unlike other models in its class, the Polo comes as standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, which is fantastic to use and looks the part in the centre of the dash. SE upwards come with further satellite navigation, with SEL and R-Line trims getting the ‘Discover Navigation’ system, offering sat nav. The quality is excellent throughout, with only a couple of cheaper plastics here and there, but this is easy to forgive on a supermini. There’s also the option of having digital dials, too.

 

Behind the wheel, the Polo lacks the excitement of rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and even its Seat Ibiza sibling. That said, it’s still a good car to drive, and a big improvement over the last version. The steering is now a lot more accurate, while the ride remains impressively composed and refined for a car of this size. Larger wheels can start to make the Polo seem a bit firm, so we’d be cautious of going for the optional 17-inch alloys if you value ride comfort.

 

Video Review

Space and practicality

 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, this is where the Polo comes up trumps, offering one of the largest cabins in its class.

 

The boot boasts 351 litres of space, which is more than some cars in the class above and 25 per cent up on that found in the previous-generation Polo. The larger Golf’s boot isn’t much bigger, either, while it’s also a very practical shape and easy to load because of a near-flat floor.

 

Passengers will also be impressed by the capacious cabin, which has been helped by a longer 94mm wheelbase, allowing for increased space in the rear. Even adults will have no problems fitting in the back, with plenty of leg and shoulder room for occupants, and a decent amount of interior storage spaces as well.

 

The Polo continues its sweep in the safety category, too, with Euro NCAP awarding the Polo a five-star safety rating, with particularly high scores recorded in the adult and child occupancy protection categories. The German supermini is also helped along by some impressive standard safety kit, with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection fitted as standard, as well as hill-hold assist and a driver attention alert. SEL and R-Line versions also benefit from front and rear parking sensors, which will help to avoid low-speed parking bumps.

 

While the Golf is better-suited to family duties, the Polo has a lot of appeal to those with up to two children, and not in need of a bigger car. The Polo is only offered as a five-door model now, which aids its practicality.

 

Engines

 

The Polo is limited somewhat by a rather compromised choice of engines.

 

The vast majority of the line-up revolves around the 1.0-litre petrol engines. Without a turbo, you can have this engine with either 64bhp or 74bhp, although both can feel lethargic away from towns and cities, so if you cover a lot of miles at 60mph or over, we would avoid this pair of engines.

 

With a turbocharged bolted onto it, the unit is available with either 94bhp or 113bhp — both of which come with the choice of manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

 

On the diesel side, there’s just one option — a 1.6-litre turbodiesel with either 79bhp or 94bhp, which is only offered on Beats and SEL trim levels. It’s paired to a five-speed manual transmission, as are all engines minus the 113bhp petrol unit, which comes with a six-speed manual ‘box instead.

 

Running costs

 

With the Polo only utilising small engines (GTI aside), fuel economy on petrol models varies between 58.9 and 64.2mpg, with the turbocharged options being more efficient. CO2 emissions on these range between 103g/km and 110g/km.

 

The diesel engine manages up to 76.3mpg on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions varying between 97g/km and 99g/km.

 

New drivers will find the Polo is a compelling option, with low insurance premiums expected — particularly from the two lower-output options. These engines sit in insurance groups one and two, making them one of the cheapest cars to insure in the UK. Even the turbocharged petrol and diesel engines don’t exceed group eight.

Things to look for

 

Despite the Polo only being on sale since the end of 2017, it’s already been hit with a notable safety concern. Along with the new Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona, the Polo encountered a dangerous design flaw where the rear centre seatbelt could unbuckle in rare circumstances, with buyers and drivers being advised at the time not to use the centre seat. It affected cars built to the end of 2018, but a big safety recall ensured the problem was soon fixed. Ensure that any car you’re buying has had this fix carried out.

 

Aside from that, the Polo has proven to be a reliable model, and Volkswagen’s three-year warranty will mean that all new shape Polos will be covered under manufacturer warranty until the end of 2020, providing they stick under 60,000 miles.

 

Rivals

 

The supermini class is one of the most fiercely contested segments in the car market, so the Polo has some tough competition. Its closest rivals are the best-selling Ford Fiesta and the three models it shares its underpinnings with — the Skoda Fabia, Seat Ibiza and Audi A1.

 

Other models worth looking at in this market include the Mini hatch, Hyundai i20, Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa.

 

Depreciation

 

In typical Volkswagen fashion, the Polo has better resale values than many of its rivals, which means Polos don’t depreciate particularly heavily. There are still savings of up to £3,000 available off nearly-new models, but discounts won’t be as significant as those you might find on rival cars.

Which Polo to Pick

Summary

  1. Considered the premium supermini
  2. More expensive with less kit than rivals
  3. Great range of economical engines
  4. Sporty GTI model is extremely capable
  5. Entry level engines are pretty gutless
  6. Even older models offer good economy
  7. Impressive five-star safety rating
  8. Interior space fares well against rivals
  9. Feels just as high quality as a Golf
  10. best infotainment system only available on newest models