As classy and refined as they come, the new Polo makes a big impression. wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER drives VW’s International Car of the Year.
THE Volkswagen Polo is one of those cars a lot of us have grown up with. It’s been a constant in our lives since it was launched way back in 1975.
Now we have this, the fifth generation of a model which has found many friends over the years, and having recently scooped the International Car of the Year title for 2010, is bound to be winning a few more.
While this coveted gong, awarded by an international jury made up of 59 members from 23 European countries, will certainly help, it’s the car’s clean-cut lines, and the fact that the Polo now looks like a slightly smaller version of the latest Golf, that will sway a lot of potential buyers away from its main rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.
It’s quite funny really – the Polo, once the entry point to the VW range, is now bigger than the original Mk1 Golf , it looks incredibly similar to the latest Mk6 Golf, and hasn’t been the smallest car in the range for a number of years.
The similar looks of the two cars is no coincidence either, as both were created under the supervision of Volkswagen’s head of design, Walter de Silva. The new Polo’s latest face echoes that of not only the Golf, but also the Scirocco, so don’t be surprised to see subsequent VW models adopting similar features.
As you would expect, there is a good mix of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, and four different trim levels, including one which offers air conditioning. The others cover S, Moda (which is designed to appeal to younger buyers), SE and SEL. While a BlueMotion model has just joined the range for the economy conscious, the model I have been testing, with its 1.6-litre 75PS engine, is hardly going to make big holes in your pockets, but more of that in a minute.
Each generation of every car becomes larger, and more technically advanced, but one of the things which helped the Polo win its Car of the Year title is the fact that the entire range comes with an electronic stability programme which helps a driver remain in control should the car begin to skid. If the worst happens, the Polo offers further protection in the shape of four airbags. All these features combined to earn it a five star Ncap crash test rating.
I have read and heard a lot of good things about the latest Polo, so my expectations were high. I wasn’t to be disappointed. It’s beautifully built, from the door handle to the dashboard top. The instrumentation is attractively designed and clear, and although the touch-screen navigation system on the car I tested was an optional extra, it was a nice feature which brings a level of luxury that is rare in this class.
Anyone looking to cut their motoring costs and downsize, would do well to consider the Polo. It offers a quality which outdoes most of its competitors and a level of refinement which outdoes all of them. On the road, even at motorway speeds, hardly any wind or road noise can be heard in the cabin. The interior of the car is virtually silent.
The car I tested came with a smooth working, precise, five-speed manual gearbox, but if you prefer, a DSG transmission can be yours on some models.
The engine powering my test car is a new one to the range and is capable of returning 65.7mpg on the combined cycle, with a low C02 figure of 112g/km. To help the driver achieve this kind of impressive economy, a gearchange indicator on the instrument panel is a useful reminder of when to change up or down the box to maximise every gallon of fuel.
Even the stereo is up to scratch. It sounds good and comes with connectors to attach your iPod to the sound system.
There is room enough inside to accommodate five adults – just, and at the back, the boot features a handy split level floor for ease of loading. The rear seats can be folded down to provide even more space on the odd occasions it’s needed.
Good looking, well priced and impeccably built, the latest Polo is a quality contender than won’t fail to impress any potential buyer.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Volkswagen Polo SE 1.6 TDI 75 PS.
POLO RANGE: From S 1.2 (60ps) 3dr (£9,910) to SEL TDI 1.6 (90ps) 5dr (£15,775).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 75PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 112g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 106 mph.
0-62mph in 13.9 secs.
Fuel tank: 45 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 10.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.