Subtle facelift hides bigger changes underneath
This is the new VW Polo to face-off the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. The irony in this car arriving stems from the trouble that the German maker has faced in the US – where VW board members have blamed long model cycles with minor facelifts such as this – as the reason why sales fell and its North America boss stepped down late last year. At least the new Polo brings some welcome changes under that barely-changed sheetmetal.
Is the VW Polo’s facelift an early April fool?
Apparently not, though on the outside, only some new colours, alloy wheel designs and remoulded bumpers set the Polo apart. LED headlights make their debut in the supermini class on board the new Polo, but they’re only destined for the high-end models, so expect most of the Polos you see on the roads from spring 2014 to be packing yellowy old halogens.
Where’s the imagination and innovation from cars like the VW XL1 or Design Vision GTI?
Some of it has ended up under the bonnet. Later in 2014, you’ll be able the first petrol ‘Bluemotion’ VW (they’ve all been diesel up until now) – a 0.9-litre turbo triple making 89bhp, and good for 69mpg. The diesel-drinking Polo Bluemotion has seen economy bumped from 83mpg to 88.2mpg, and now emits 82g/km of CO2, down from 88g.
Meanwhile, three-pot 1.0-litre engines from the Up city car appear in the petrol family, and the 1.2-litre diesel makes way for a 1.4-litre with better fuel economy and more torque. Excited yet? No? Okay then. At least the Polo GTI hot hatch has been tickled from 178bhp to 189bhp.
Any interesting tech?
Features once preserved for luxury limousines are now available in the Polo. Radar-guided cruise control for one, and automatic city braking for another. You can also spec adaptive dampers to soften or stiffen the ride, and the Polo also has a new electrically assisted power steering that saves energy and, according to VW, improves handling over the outgoing model.
Lifting the Polo’s rather sombre cabin is a new family of infotainment options. Remember how the VW Group bases all of its family hatchbacks on one modular platform (MQB)? Well, now VW is going modular with in-car entertainment too. Seriously!
‘Modular Entertainment Systems’ mean buyers can choose between one of four interfaces, ranging from a 5in monochrome display to an 8.5in screen able to show a full colour reversing camera display. Smartphone connectivity has been enhanced too, as have the already impressive trim materials. Oh, and there’s the downright perfect steering wheel from the Mk7 Golf, complete with myriad button functions. Less feel-good inside than a Mini or Citroen DS3, sure, but we’ll bet the farm on it still being a quality benchmark.
Any word on prices?
Only from the home German market so far, where VW has confirmed the entry-level Polo will cost exactly the same as the outgoing model.
That bodes well for UK buyers not being fleeced for the sake of some new chrome trim and wheels – the current Polo ranges from £10,770 to £20,350. Sales kick off in the second quarter of 2014.
>> Is VW right to be so conservative with the new Polo’s visual makeover? Are the comprehensive engine changes enough to tempt you away from a new Mini or Fiesta Ecoboost? Add your comments below