The exterior of a silver Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo review

The VW Polo is one of the most well-built superminis out there with plenty of space. It’s just as excellent on the motorway as it is darting around the city and won't cost a lot to run.

Pros

  • Extremely good finish inside and out
  • A very comfortable drive
  • It’s a simple shape that’s practical for its size

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than rivals
  • It isn’t the most exciting car to drive
  • Low spec models can feel basic

Summary

“It’s a brilliant car that’s a solid and dependable performer.”

The Polo is renowned for quality and it feels like you’re driving a bigger car than it actually is. Smaller cars can feel less stable on the road but not the Polo. It’s really sturdy. 

A new model was introduced in 2018 which is slightly larger than the version it replaced. It offers greater efficiency and comfort, as well as the latest safety and infotainment tech. That’s no reason to overlook older versions as they’re very impressive and a great bargain.

The Polo has a great range of engines with decent performance and economy with low emissions. 

Although they can look more expensive than rivals, they’re just as cheap to run. If you’re looking at one of the newer cars, you get the benefit of the latest three-cylinder engines which provide smooth power and even greater efficiency.

Whether you pick a three-door or five-door, you’ll have a car that offers more load capacity and passenger room than the majority of supermini class rivals.

Fascia shot of the Volkswagen Polo

What's the interior like?

“The latest Polo interior features a large 8-inch touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard and the finish is impeccable throughout.”

Climb inside the VW Polo and you’ll be struck by the amount of room and the sense of quality.  

The driving position is excellent, although thick windscreen pillars make visibility a little harder. The dashboard layout is clear, straightforward and extremely practical.

Look out for the optional Active Info Display on higher spec Polos. It’s a fully digitised instrument panel that’s as advanced as anything on the market. Even entry-level S models today feature an 8-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity as standard, while sat nav is included with the SEL trim or above. 

Choosing the three-door will compromise access, but a Polo is really practical. You can get in and out with ease and there’s a feeling of great space behind the wheel. The boot is also roomy for this type of car.

The interior of a Volkswagen Polo with steering wheel and dashboard in shot

What's it like to drive?

“You won’t find a supermini that’s more comfortable on a long run.”

On the road, the VW Polo is extremely comfortable even on bumpy roads. It’s quiet and refined inside and is a great choice if you cover long distances regularly. 

The Polo’s steering is light and easy, as are the manual gearboxes, making this car hard to fault for everyday use.

The entry-level 64 hp (horsepower) variant can feel a little underpowered on major roads. The 1.0TSI 94 hp engine has more usable performance, so unless you’re sticking to the city, it would make a great choice.

There is a 7-speed DSG (automatic gearbox), but the Polo is pleasant and easy to drive with a standard manual gearbox. Thrill-seekers may want to seek out the slightly older GTI model, which offers seriously punchy performance from a 2.0-litre petrol engine with almost 200 hp.

The rear exterior of a silver Volkswagen Polo

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Running costs are competitive, and while you’ll pay a bit more upfront, a Polo should also retain more when you sell it on.”

A good range of engine options means there’s an efficient choice for everyone, whether you want to head into town or drive on the motorway. 

If you’re a higher mileage driver (12,000 per year), go for a newer 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo or even the older diesel which deliver around 60 mpg in official tests. That said, the new petrol engines are just as efficient and more environmentally friendly, which explains why there’s no diesel option for the latest showroom models.

Service costs are competitive, as are tax and insurance.

Rear seat shot of the Volkswagen Polo

How reliable and safe is it?

“The VW Polo promises class-leading safety.”

The VW Polo is a class-leader when it comes to safety, although some surveys suggest reliability is only average.

Not only does the VW Polo come with a full 5-star rating from the independent crash testing body Euro NCAP, it’s also extremely well equipped with an array of safety features. All the latest models have autonomous emergency braking. You can also find optional features such as blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

Engine shot of the Volkswagen Polo

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - 1.0 TSI SE

Best for family - 1.0 TSI SE

Best for fun - 1.0 TSI R-Line 

The latest Polo line-up consists of the entry-level S, the mid-range SE, a slightly younger feeling Beats model, the range-topping SEL and sporty looking R-Line models.

The SE is a great buy as it has all the important equipment included for a reasonable price. It’s worth looking around as you might be lucky and find a used car with lots of extra equipment for not much more than the SE.

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