Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: this is a Polo, not a Golf. Clearly there are family resemblances between the two siblings, and equally clearly this new model is the largest Polo yet, now only available as a five door. The new grown-up look is in line with the supermini trend, so that a class of car that used to be for urban commuting and shopping is now much more versatile. And few superminis are more sophisticated, or accomplished, than Volkswagen’s Polo.
Euro NCAP ratings for the new Polo haven’t been released yet but as the new Polo’s predecessor achieved five stars, Volkswagen – and its customers – can be quietly confident. Safety technology includes a ‘Front Assist’ system as a standard feature, helping to maintain a safe distance to the vehicle ahead. When combined with Pedestrian Monitoring, it can detect obstacles that appear without warning and brake the vehicle automatically. Blind Spot sensors and a Park Assist system are available as options.
Volkswagen is very proud of the new Polo’s ‘tornado line’ – the rising waist-level line that extends along the sides of the four-door supermini and across the rear. It gives the Polo a cohesive and sporty look. The Polo is based on the latest VW Group platform – ‘MQB A0’ for all the anoraks out there – which will also provide a basis for the future Audi A1, Skoda Fabia and Seat Ibiza.
At 4,053mm the new Polo is longer than any previous model and within a whisker of a Mk IV Golf of the late 1990s. It’s also wider, with a longer wheelbase and a useful boot capacity of 351 litres. Optional design packages allow owners to create something with a spark of individuality; these include a black roof, high-gloss decorative trim and a choice of alloy wheels. Inside, there’s a wide choice of trim and upholstery colours and the interior has an upmarket feel, with well-crafted and high-quality materials used throughout.
Volkswagen’s Active Info display, already available on the latest generation Golf, is now an option for the new Polo. This is a 10.25-inch screen that replaces the analogue dials with a configurable display, letting the driver choose between traditional speedo and rev counter or navigational mapping. The Polo also features an infotainment touchscreen of up to 8”, depending on the model. Inductive smartphone charging is another neat option – no more trailing wires.
The trend for smaller capacity, higher performance petrol engines continues in the new Polo engine range. There’s a 65bhp 1.0-litre, two 1.0-litre turbos developing 95 and 114bhp respectively, and a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo that features cylinder deactivation, effectively creating an engine of variable capacity depending on how much load it’s under. Alternatively, Volkswagen’s two 1.6-litre TDI diesel engines, which produce 80bhp and 95bhp respectively, are torquey, economical and cleaner than ever. However, performance addicts will want to put their deposits down on a Polo GTI, which is powered by a 197bhp 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine.
Created in partnership with audio specialists Beats Electronic, Volkswagen’s new Polo Beats mixes up the perfect driving soundtrack. A colour-matched stripe and a cool set of alloys sets the style.
Outstanding performance in a small package – the Polo GTI packs 197bhp under its bonnet. Head-turning red trim, brake callipers and front and rear spoilers underscore the performance-focused engineering.