VW Polo enters another phase with a little help from the Golf

As it approaches 40, the Volkswagen Polo borrows some of the Golf’s class and technology for its latest incarnation

The VW Polo is a good package, cleverly put together for a mid-cycle refresh, and feels like a smaller Golf

The VW Polo is a good package, cleverly put together for a mid-cycle refresh, and feels like a smaller Golf

Wed, May 14, 2014, 01:00

It is a ubiquitous presence on Irish roads and a firm favourite with a truly diverse customer base, from learner drivers to second car owners to pensioners. Now the Volkswagen Polo enters another phase of its near 40-year lifespan as something familiar but, at the same time, different.

Of course, what you are really getting with this car is a smaller version of the Golf, just as Ford’s Fiesta is an iteration of the Ford Focus. That kind of competitive logic has, however, been good for the customer, who gets a lot more for their money than they did 10 years ago.

You won’t notice anything radical about the revised Polo, except for LED headlights that give it a more modern look, and you would certainly be hard-pressed to spot the difference when you see the car from the rear. In fact, the overall design is not much of a selling point for the Polo – it is neither adventurous nor stimulating.

What Volkswagen is really selling here is a package that offers more Golf class than Polo class, in terms of safety and technology. So, it throws in collision-avoidance technology that helps you stop running into something, and it gives you smart-swipe screen controls that help make the Polo’s interior a lot smarter than that of a Ford Fiesta. Although it looks bigger and feels bigger in the front, the Polo still won’t carry four adults in any great comfort, and the boot is just adequate for its class.

It is still a nice car to drive, though and, with the exception of the Cross version, has ride and handling to suit the kind of driving Polo drivers do.

It has a range of engines, including a 1.4 diesel which is very disappointing in its performance and noise levels; most buyers will probably opt for the five-door version with the 1.0-litre engine.

A smaller 60bhp unit is also on offer but the extra 15bhp really is needed to get anything like the best from the car. These engines have been designed to get emissions down without compromising power overly, but that, however, is the result when you have a three-cylinder engine. VW claims a fuel consumption figure on a combined cycle of 4.7 litres per 100km, but we will have to wait for a longer test to see how this figure stands up under scrutiny.

The basic Trendline version comes with collision-avoidance system; a 5in colour touch screen, and speed-sensitive power steering, but you will have to pay extra for items such as rear electric windows, an arm rest or Bluetooth.

Prices start at €14,995 for the three-door 1.0 litre 60bhp version, and €1,000 more for the extra two doors. The 75bhp five-door version costs €18,210.

All in all, the Polo is a good package, cleverly put together for a mid-cycle refresh, and that smaller Golf feeling is a strong selling point.

However, with the Volkswagen Up costing less – albeit without the technology advantages – people might look a little harder at how exactly they spend their money on a three-cylinder engine power source. The Skoda Citigo, for instance, is cheaper still and hard to beat for easy and undemanding driving.

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