► Facelifted VW Polo tested
► Design tweaks and new tech
► How does it drive?
Blink and you’ll miss it! Yes, this really is the facelifted VW Polo. Not that you can really tell – the changes are so minor you need a magnifying glass to notice them. Most noticeable is that it’s now available in PURPLE.
Despite VW offering about four million different SUVs (don’t quote me on that number), the Polo still matters. VW’s sold more than 1.6 million of them in the UK alone, so it doesn’t really want to rock the boat too much.
Or at all…
A fair point. This latest iteration now has IQ.Light matrix LED lights as well as that funny glowing moustache seen on the ID cars as well as the Golf 8 on mid-spec Style and above, some new colours and customisation options and… that’s pretty much it. Same shape, same platform and broadly the same engine range – the Polo’s shorn itself of a diesel option, so your only engine choices are a 79bhp or 94bhp three-cylinder in the regular range, or the 204bhp petrol in the Polo GTI.
That being said, the Polo’s safety kit has been enhanced significantly – every one comes with VW’s Travel Assist as standard, bundling lane keeping, traffic sign recognition and emergency assist together. Adaptive cruise is also standard.
And all of that is neatly tidied up in a very sensible, functional cabin. Like the rest of VW’s range, the Polo’s fallen victim to including touch panel air con controls, but the infotainment screen is easy to navigate, and the standard digital dials are clear to read. The steering wheel buttons take some time to get your head around, as there are so many to poke and prod. Rear space is very good, even behind a tall driver and the boot is one of the biggest in its segment, offering more volume than a Fiesta or Corsa.
So how does the ‘new’ Polo drive?
Well, let’s start with the best bit: the engine. While its performance specs aren’t much to shout about (we’re testing the 94bhp model here, which takes almost 11 seconds to 62mph), it’s got a little pep to it. Given it’s related to the engine in the VW Up GTI (that’s since gone off sale, RIP) there’s a fizzy little thrum to it when you rev it. It’s not fast, but more than perky enough.
Given it’s mated to a five-speed manual in the car we’ve tested (there’s also a seven-speed DSG available with this engine), you have to be tactical with your gear changes for motorway slip road acceleration. A sixth gear would come in handy purely as a motorway overdrive gear but, even without it, the engine’s very quiet on the move. And thrifty, too – mixed urban and motorway driving, netted us economy results of around 52mpg; not far off the official claims.
Elsewhere, it’s all very balanced and composed – as is the way with VW. The ride on the standard 16-inch wheels on the Style spec we tried was impressive, soaking up major lumps and not disturbing the occupants with jittery jolts over the smaller, sharper road imperfections. The same trait is apparent in the steering – it’s weighty; not too light or twitchy, but direct enough.
VW Polo: verdict
Save for a fizzy engine, all of this composure and sensibility doesn’t mean the Polo’s all that… interesting. Not that it’s a big deal, because the little VW is just very good. It does everything well, with very few complaints or quirks to speak of, and is on par with almost all of its rivals for price, even giving you some additional technology usually seen on larger cars at higher price tags. Roomy, well-built, and good to drive, too.
It won’t set your soul alight, but the Polo remains a dependable and user-friendly supermini.
Read our Volkswagen reviews here
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Specs are for a Polo Style 1.0-litre TSI 95PS