The VW Polo is a small car that does a very good job of pretending to be something much bigger. It’s got a spacious cabin, with large supportive seats, one of the biggest boots in its class and a suite of driver assistance systems and features usually found on much more expensive models.
The latest Polo is a facelift of the one that launched in 2017. Revisions include new bumpers, a new tailgate with re-shaped rear lights and some upgrades to the interior.
Powertrain choice is limited to three 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines: a base 80PS unit and pair of turbocharged ones with 95PS or 110PS.
A five-speed manual gearbox accompanies the entry-level 80PS unit, while the 95PS version is also available with a seven-speed DSG. The range-topping 110PS engine is paired exclusively with a DSG.
The bulk of sales are likely to be of the 95PS manual, which is the sweet spot of the line-up. Despite its modest power output, the engine is eager from the get-go and happy to rev. We’d have preferred a six-speed box, as the five-speed unit’s ratios are a little long.
Fuel economy is a particular highlight, with the 95PS Polo never returning less than 40mpg in our hands. We’d expect it to readily return upwards of 50mpg in normal use.
The clutch pedal is a little springy, which makes nailing the perfect pull-away a little tricky. The DSG transmission, in conjunction with the pokier 110PS engine, provides the most refined experience.
The Polo feels more old-school on the inside than the latest VW products, utilising the brand’s older-generation infotainment system and a simpler button-led cabin. There’s no shortage of technology, however. All models come with adaptive cruise control and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with connected services as standard. Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto is a particular highlight.
The Polo offers great refinement and is happy to chug along the motorway with little fuss. The ride errs on the firm side, but isn’t harsh. There’s a satisfying feeling of solidity to the way the car drives, although the steering feels a tad dull when compared with that of a Ford Fiesta.
Running costs are competitive, with strong residuals helping to balance the scales against the Polo’s higher list price.
The mid-spec Style trim includes front and rear parking sensors, lane-keep assist, Matrix LED headlights and dual zone climate control, while range topping R-Line models have a sportier look with bespoke bumpers and 16-inch alloy wheels. There’s also a black headliner, stainless steel pedals and sports seats.