Fleet News

Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDI SE - 7,524 miles



USUALLY when I am given a car the size of a Volkswagen Polo to test, my bottom lip projects, I snuff and snort like an old warthog and road test editor Simon Harris – who is in charge of handing out the cars – is temporarily crossed off my Christmas card list.

The way I figure it, as the most senior member of the test team (well, in years anyway), I deserve better than a car of this size. We have plenty of bigger and more expensive ones on the fleet, so why should I eat fish fingers when I can dine on lobster thermadore?

However, in the case of the Polo, I was far from unhappy with Harris's choice. I love driving Volkswagens. My last car was a Volkswagen, I owned a Volkswagen camper van until recently, my girlfriend drives an aging VW Jetta and my son owns a VW Lupo.

So what impresses me about the German marque? The first thing is that whichever model you choose, you know it's a VW as soon as you step aboard – in other words it does exactly what it says on the tin.

There is plenty of leg room for the driver (even in my son's tiny Lupo), the knobs and switches all fall nicely to hand as they seem to occupy the same positions in all models, the seats are hard, flat and supportive and – best of all – Volkswagens all drive as only German cars can drive. They all work wonderfully well.

There is nothing fancy about them – they are, after all, the people's car. In fact they are almost spartan inside, with no fancy curves and swirls and metal inserts like you get in some cars. But what Volkswagen has provided is invariably beautifully crafted and in my experience is guaranteed to work perfectly.

The Polo isn't cheap, especially when you add the cost of those £1,575 leather seats into the equation (do any buyers actually specify these I wonder?) but then again quality always comes at a price.

On the plus side, the company driver choosing this car will only have to fork out £39 a month in benefit-in-kind tax and when it comes to frugality on the miles per gallon front, who could complain when this car is returning in the high 50s?

The optional winter pack is coming into its own in the cold weather we've been experiencing recently. This car doesn't just have heated seats – it has heated seats which go from one to five on the dials. I hate the things personally and never use them but my girlfriend cranks hers up to the max on every trip and leaves it there. How she doesn't singe her rear end I really don't know!

The Polo will be returning to its rightful owner soon so it made a fitting finish to end its time at Fleet News with a committed Volkswagen fan.

During its six months here, it may not have been the most sought-after vehicle on the fleet and its shortage of space in the back means it will never really be a feasible choice for a family driver, but it has exhibited a style and grace that few superminis are capable of showing.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £39 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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