The latest Polo features a new look, new engines, revised interiors and chassis changes to make the car safer and more comfortable to live with. The range is priced from £8,290 to £14,460 on-the-road and takes in three- and five-door hatchbacks, five trim levels and seven engines, including a 1.6-litre 125bhp unit in the GTI model and an unusual three-cylinder 1.4-litre turbodiesel.
Three models were available to drive at the car's UK launch - the GTI, TDI SE and 1.4 SE. The GTI name makes its debut in the UK Polo range and it certainly lives up to the name - it's a hoot to drive. With its mesh grille, body kit and chunky alloy wheels it looks the part and doesn't disappoint on the road. With 125bhp on tap, the GTI, which returns to the roots of the original Mk I Golf GTI, has all the credentials to appeal to the younger market. Top speed is a claimed 127mph and 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds, although on-road performance feels a lot quicker.
The second new development is a three-cylinder turbodiesel engine using pumpe duse technology. This models feels a lot quicker than the claimed 75bhp, although the tell-tale figure is the mighty 144lb-ft of torque available from just 2,200rpm. Although it is unmistakably a diesel at idle, once on the move the engine has an unusual note, sounding vaguely like a straight-six petrol engine. For sheer flexibility and driving ease, the TDI makes a strong case, especially when you look at its 64.2mpg combined economy figure.
I was expecting the third model - the 1.4SE with 75bhp - to feel a little flat after the previous two, but was pleasantly surprised at the eager engine. However, performance is not the only selling point of a car and in Volkswagen's case, build quality, interior design and the upmarket feel of the Polo should not be overlooked. Inside, it borrows some styling cues from the Lupo, such as the hooded cowls around the instruments and VW trademark blue backlighting for the dials.
The interior is well laid out apart from the location of the heater controls, which are near your feet. All new Polos come with ABS brakes and twin airbags as standard and equipment on all models is good, with the GTI offering electronic air conditioning, electronic differential lock, six-disc CD player and gas discharge Xenon headlights.
A revised body structure has improved stiffness, lowered noise levels and improved handling. Volkswagen has also given the Polo a fully galvanised body with a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty to go alongside the three-year/ unlimited mileage mechanical warranty.