Review: Volkswagen Polo
Volkswagen PoloPrice: £19,515 (£22,265 as tested)Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrolPower: 94bhpTorque: 129lb/ftTransmission: five-speed manualTop speed: 116mph0-62mph: 10.8 secondsEconomy: 54.4mpg combinedCO 2 emissions:118g/km
Many years ago, when I started out as a ‘cub’ reporter I needed a car to get around my far-flung rural patch.
As a trainee I didn’t earn much and so ended up with a disreputable second generation Volkswagen Polo with a dodgy past that cost me a couple of hundred pounds.
When it was new it would have been a lovely little car but by the time it had passed into my hands it was long overdue for retirement.
I really should have known better. There was something badly wrong with the exhaust system and fumes filled the car so I had to drive with the windows open to avoid asphyxiation - not ideal when my commute to work included 25 miles down the M1 in the winter.
Nevertheless, needs must, and I persevered until one day the bonnet catch failed and a wall of metal flew up to meet the windscreen - luckily I was in the inside lane of the motorway. I tied it down with a bit of nylon rope I found in the boot, continued on my way and scrapped the car at the first opportunity.
Polos have come a long way since then. Now in its sixth generation and with a 2021 facelift it is one of my favourite cars and is definitely on my shortlist the next time I’m in the market for a set of new wheels.
It comes at an affordable price and looks good. Not flashy but smart and dependable-looking and very easy on the eye.
It’s also a real pleasure to drive. Manual handbrake, beautiful-action five-speed gearbox and many of the functions actioned by knobs and switches rather than the touchscreen to make selecting and operating them a breeze.
The infotainment system however, is controlled via the touchscreen and the instrument display is digital rather than the analogue ones of old.
The kit list is impressive. Even the entry-level models get air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, travel assist - lane keeping system and other safety features; Apple CarPlay and Android auto
We drove the Polo Life, the entry-level model. The whole range is only available as a five-door and there are three three-cylinder engines to pick from: 79bhp, 93bhp and 108bhp.
There is also a Polo GTi with a 204bhp four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed DSG transmission.
Our middle of the pack 93bhp turbocharged model has plenty of get up and go with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds. It picks up speed nicely and is sweet even under harsh acceleration.
Unlike many small cars it feels stable on the motorway and the turbopower of the engine is enough to facilitate safe overtaking.
The steering is light and makes manoeuvring around town very easy.
Visibility is good and the slim door pillars and large rear windscreen aid parking - as ever though I was thankful for the front and rear parking sensors (£474 add on). It’s amazing how soon you become accustomed to having them and miss them when they are not there.