Road Test: Volkswagen Polo
Competition in the supermini segment is heating up and now Volkswagen have brought the new Polo into the mix. AOL Cars went to Hamburg to put it through its paces.
What is it?
The new Volkswagen Polo is built on a totally new architecture for the model — VW Group's MQB A0 platform.
The design of the new car is typically Polo. The basic VW DNA remains but, thanks to the new platform's longer wheelbase, the Polo has a more brash stance than before.
New engines have been added to the line-up, too. A variety of 1.0-litre TSI engines are now available and for the first time in a Polo, a natural gas-powered engine will be on offer.
What's under the bonnet?
Three petrol engine choices will available for the launch of the Polo, with more options coming down the line.
The base engine is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre MPI engine producing 64bhp and 95Nm of torque. It's capable of taking the Polo from 0-60mph in 15.3 seconds and up to a top speed of 102mph. A combined fuel consumption of 60.1mpg is claimed, as well as 108g/km of CO2 emissions.
A slightly enhanced version of the same 1.0-litre MPI engine is next in the range, producing 74bhp and 95Nm of torque. Equipped with this, the car takes 14.7 seconds to hit 60mph and can reach a top speed of 106mph. Claimed fuel economy matches the less powerful engine, with 60.1mpg and a CO2 figure of 108g/km. Both MPI engines are coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox.
Topping the launch line-up is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI engine. This develops 94bhp and 175Nm of torque, which can take the Polo from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds and up to a top speed of 116mph. This can be paired with either a five-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG.What's it like to drive?
First of all, the Polo excels at city driving — its main purpose. Thanks to light steering, great visibility and a whole host of safety assists, cruising in urban areas is a dream.
The 1.0-litre engine and manual gearbox seemed with took everything thrown at them without any problems, proving extremely versatile and requiring few gear changes.
The hatchback's excellence begins to unravel a little over longer periods of driving, though. It's not a totally unpleasant experience spending more than an hour in the car, but the lack of support in the seats is soon noticed. The huge amount of passenger space makes sitting shotgun a pretty good experience, though.
A little more steering response at higher speeds would be ideal, but for a car primarily built for urban driving, it was never going to be the most direct driving experience — at least not in lower trims. Hopefully (and presumably) the GTI will be a different story.
How does it look?
The new Polo definitely looks like an evolution of its predecessors— although now, thanks to the new platform, it has shorter front and rear overhangs, which gives a more aggressive appearance to the car.
Sadly, the overall styling doesn't quite play to this quite as well as the Polo's platform sibling, the Seat Ibiza. In less vibrant colours, there's more of a lukewarm visual impression rather than an understated appeal or all-out flair.
The Beats edition we drove also comes with two decal stripes — one of which was body-coloured. These can be deselected, which would probably be the case should it be our money spent on the car.What's it like inside?
The new Polo has become an even more spacious car, thanks to the MQB A0 platform.
Boot capacity is up 25 per cent, going from 280 litres to 351 litres, making an already practical car even more capable. It's ever so slightly under the Seat Ibiza though, which boasts 355 litres, but can pack more than the new Fiesta's 292 litres.
Despite a larger boot, passenger space has not been compromised. The Polo was capable of fitting two adults up front comfortably while still carrying plenty of luggage in the rear footwells.
The interior quality is pretty fantastic, too. Partial-leather features in the interior and despite some hard plastics, the cabin has a very premium feel.What's the spec like?
Without knowing the price of the car, it's hard to judge how much bang you're getting for your buck. However, the Polo comes rather generously equipped, regardless of the chosen trim level.
The Beats version we tested came with 16-inch alloy wheels, a partial leather interior, a full colour infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, rear tinted windows, body decal strips (if that's your thing) and the main attraction of the Beats version: a 300-watt sound system.
A downside though is the lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay available through the infotainment — both of which are present on the Polo's VW Group stablemate, the Seat Ibiza. The base system did work rather well though, despite a few niggly Bluetooth connection problems.
The new Volkswagen Polo is a sensational little urban runabout — the job it's mainly designed to do. It's certainly capable of doing longer distances too, but it could grow tiresome for anything more than a couple of hours.
You get the premium feel that Volkswagens of late have become known for, although without knowing the price, it's hard to compare it to its rivals' pound for pound just yet.
VW will no doubt sell many when the new Polo does land in the UK, and deservedly so, but can it challenge the Fiesta for the supermini crown? Only time will tell...
THE KNOWLEDGEModel: Volkswagen Polo Beats
Base price: TBA
Engine tested: 1.0 TSI
Max speed: 116mph
0-60mph: 10.6 seconds
Emissions: 106 g/km