Whenever a prospective buyer considers a choice of supermini hatchbacks, the first thought is of the evergreen Fiesta and with very good reason. In fact, this segment of the car market is awash with decent small cars but, instead of the Ford, perhaps at the top of any short list should also be the Volkswagen Polo, voted the 2016 supermini of the year..
As well as a quality, if conventional, interior and some smooth and efficient petrol engines, you can choose from a range of advanced safety features that you rarely see at this level. VW have delivered the goods again. Those good folk at Volkswagen have obliged with a very comprehensive specification for the test car plus a breakdown of the other options available which has saved me a huge amount of typing. For this I am eternally grateful. See below.
Front seat passengers get more than enough head and arm room. They’ll also find enough storage spaces for drinks bottles, a smartphone and the inevitable collection of detritus that we all accumulate. The glove box is well-sized as part of the clean and efficient dashboard, and for once the door pockets and boot are a useable size.
The German brand has fitted three-door versions with seats on which the backrests are hinged so that they fold further forwards than they normally would making access to the back seats easier. Once in, rear passengers will get good headroom, but leggier folk will find knee space a bit on the tight side. Although it costs a little more, I’d go for the five-door as tested every time for the convenience.
A Dash Around The Dash
It is hard to fault the quality or usability of the Polo’s design. Many features have been lifted from bigger VW models giving the Polo a premium feel. All models are fitted with a clear touchscreen, through which you control audio and (optional) navigation functions. Heater controls, USB, Bluetooth and AUX functions are all to hand if specified.
Small, Mighty Engine
The most popular engine, the 1L three-cylinder petrol with a modest 60bhp, is fine but only for local routes, I’d say. Upgrade to the 74bhp version of the same engine, as tested here, and the Polo will confidently keep pace with motorway traffic. A better option.
It’s a good, lively engine that makes driving fun if not especially quick. A well-weighted clutch, five-speed manual ‘box and light steering help. An automatic gearbox is only available for the 1.2L and 1.4L petrol models. ‘BlueMotion’ technology aids fuel economy and the Volkswagen Polo proved to be a sparing user of the precious golden fluid. A definite plus. Diesels are available but in my opinion are not the best choice for this excellent car unless you’re a high mileage user.
Visibility out of the Volkswagen Polo is excellent making it easy to drive and park. It’s not a car that takes to being thrown about like some though. The soft suspension and light steering (a plus for some) and total lack of feedback from the road discourage an ebullient driving style. The Polo prefers a more gentile approach to motoring. It is none the worse for that.
It’s a Volkswagen, so you can expect excellent build quality and interior finish. Despite this, the Polo is not an expensive car. The model as tested and pictured here in ‘Match’ trim is priced at £13570 (£14639 as tested with options) which is decent value for what is a very complete supermini. Definitely one for the short list. Geoff Maxted