New VW Polo must up its Irish game to take on the Fiesta

Volkswagen’s new Polo, launched in Berlin, gets new chassis and more space

Volkswagen’s new Polo will arrive in Ireland in November, ahead of UK sales, following an unveiling in Germany on Saturday. Away from the glitz of a major motor show, VW chose to reveal its latest supermini in Berlin, claiming that it has “much greater room, more efficient engines and pioneering driver assistance systems”.

Dr Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen brand board of management, explains: "The Polo is a young, fresh car. It combines charisma with strong technology. No other car offers so much space for its size. This makes our Polo the number one compact car, and it will remain number one."

While the Polo has been a huge seller in its life, shifting more than 14 million cars since the first generation was launched in 1975, traditionally in Ireland it’s more of a bit-part player, outsold by its own close relative the Golf and by its key rival, the Ford Fiesta.

"The Polo has for more than four decades sat side by side with the Golf, so there has always been customers for both," Gerrit Heimberg, brand director, Volkswagen Ireland explained to The Irish Times. "The increase in size of Polo might lead to some migration from Golf to Polo, but indications are that the new Golf will be very strong in 172, especially thanks to our current offers. We would expect with this new Polo that the car will increase its position within the segment, closer to the top."


Headache for Golf

This new Polo will give the Golf a serious headache when it comes to practicality, thanks to the use of VW's new MQB A0 platform (as already seen – well, not seen but you know what we mean – under the new Seat Ibiza). The Polo is distinctly roomier in the back than before, and has a 350-litre boot, only a little bit smaller than that offered by the Golf. The dashboard and cabin also look a bit livelier than before, taking clear inspiration from the Up, with body-colour inserts and a lighter, brighter feeling.

Although Irish specs are yet to be decided, European Trendline models, the cheapest one, will include LED daytime running lights with coming-home and leaving-home functions, a speed limiter and the Front Assist area monitoring system with City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring.

High-end options will include active cruise control, blind spot monitor, automated parking and keyless entry and ignition. The Polo will also be available with the all-digital “Active Info Display” instrument pack and infotainment touchscreens ranging from 6.5-inch to eight-inch, and those tie in to a new “We by Volkswagen” mobile connectivity platform which allows you to integrate your car into your digital lifestyle, assuming you have one of those.

‘Personalisation options’

Further “personalisation options” (we used to call them extras) include full LED headlights, LED tail-lights, an “Air Care Climatronic” system with humidity and sun sensor, plus an allergen filter, wireless charging for smartphones (optionally including inductive antenna connection which hooks your phone up to the car’s aerial for better phone reception), “Sport Select” running gear with adjustable shock absorbers, and one of the biggest panoramic sunroofs in the small car class.

There will be six petrol engines on offer: four 1.0-litre three-cylinder units with 65hp and 75hp non-turbo, and 95hp and 115hp turbo models, plus the super-smooth new 1.5-litre TSI four-cylinder turbo, and a range-topping 2.0-litre 200hp turbo, borrowed from the Golf, for the Polo GTI.

Diesel will include 80hp and 95hp versions of the old 1.6 TDI – no sign of VW’s in-development 1.5 diesel as yet. There is also a natural-gas-capable 90hp 1.0 TGI but that won’t be coming here – it’s for Europe only. Five and six-speed manual, and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes will be available.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring