Volkswagen Polo logo

Volkswagen Polo

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2017
      Body type
      Small hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Sweet smell of hatch success”

Best bits

  • More than ample cabin space
  • Superb refinement
  • Cushy ride

Not so great

  • Pricier than most rivals
  • Not as sharp to drive as a Fiesta
  • Larger wheel options spoil ride

Read by

Volkswagen Polo Front View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen Polo Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Polo Rear View

Driving

Volkswagen Polo Front View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Polo Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall Verdict

"Effortless to drive, spacious and backed by an excellent range of petrol engines, the Volkswagen Polo is the best excuse you’ll ever need for downsizing your daily driver. Admittedly, it’s a bit pricier than many of its talented rivals, but the refined and practical sixth-generation Polo is one of the most accomplished cars in its class."

Volkswagen Polo Front View

Mechanically speaking, the Volkswagen Polo is pretty much identical to the latest SEAT Ibiza. However, while it uses the same platform and engines as its Spanish stablemate, the Polo feels distinctly more upmarket, with higher quality cabin materials and better soundproofing. You also get more choice when it comes to tech, including the optional digital instrument display in place of the traditional needles and dials.


The cabin is one of the most spacious and practical of any small hatchback, with a Tardis-like interior that provides comfortable transport for up to four large adults. The boot is huge too and far superior to anything you’ll find in the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta when the rear seats are in place. In fact, with 355-litres on offer, the Polo is only a shopping bag short on the 380-litres you get in its big brother, the Golf.


There's plenty of semi-autonomous safety tech, with Front Assist allowing the car to automatically apply the brakes if it detects a potential low-speed impact. The Polo has a five-star NCAP rating, while adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection make it to the options list, along with rear traffic alerts that warn the driver of approaching vehicles when reversing.


The Polo isn't as fun or as involving to drive as the Fiesta, with its steering lacking the weight and purpose of the Ford. However, the Volkswagen is safe and predictable in its handling, while its refined and quiet nature give it the feel of a much larger car on the motorway. The suspension absorbs most road imperfections, but cars on 17- and 18-inch wheels will transfer quite a few lumps and bumps into the cabin.


The best engine in the range is the 1.0 TSI. In our view, it's one of the best turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engines you can buy, with lively performance and claimed economy exceeding 60mpg. A performance-focused GTI model is also available, with a 2.0 TSI engine and 200PS. Only those covering long distances on a daily basis will need to consider the 1.6 TDI diesel.


Efficient, comfortable and practical, the Polo is more Golf-like than ever before and certainly raises the bar for the once humble supermini sector. Admittedly, the Fiesta and Ibiza nudge ahead on driver involvement and value, with both getting better levels of standard equipment for similar money, but the classy Polo is an easy car to recommend for those who don't mind paying a little more for comfort and refinement.


Is the Volkswagen Polo right for you?

The Volkswagen Polo is as close as you get in the supermini sector to a one-car-does-it-all policy. This is thanks to the Polo scoring well in every area where a compact hatch must, as well in some areas where they are usually not so strong.


Among those strengths of the Polo that most of its rivals cannot match are the amount of cabin space it offers. The interior is also a cut above when it comes to the quality of its materials and construction, giving the feel of a premium car that only the Audi A1 and MINI hatch are on a par with.


All of this space, comfort and quality comes at a price that’s a little higher than most of its rivals, yet the Volkswagen Polo is worth it. This is reflected in strong used values that mean you don’t lose out when buying a new Polo either outright or with a finance deal.


What’s the best Volkswagen Polo model/engine to choose?

There’s no point beating about the shrubbery here, the best engine in the Polo range is the superb 1.0 TSI turbo petrol. It comes in 95- and 115PS versions and each can be had with either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-gear DSG dual-clutch automatic.


The 1.0 TSI is a punchy engine that delivers strong, linear performance yet it also keeps itself quiet and refined even when worked to its limit. We reckon it’s the best of the current crop of three-cylinder small capacity engines used in most superminis now.


All Polos come with a five-door body now, so that just leaves the trim to pick and we’d head for the mid-level Match that provides ample safety equipment, including autonomous emergency braking. It also comes with the Plus version of the Polo’s 8-inch infotainment touchscreen so you get Car-Net to quickly pair with the apps on your smartphone.


What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen Polo?

Biggest threat to the Volkswagen Polo is the Ford Fiesta. This pair have been going head to head for years and the Fiesta has an edge when it comes to driving fun. The Ford is also available as a three-door, which some buyers will prefer.


Vauxhall’s Corsa is another serious rival to the Polo and has a wide variety of trims and engines to choose from, as well as an all-electric version. You should also consider the SEAT Ibiza for its all-round talents, while the Audi A1 and MINI hatch give the Polo serious competition for who has the classiest cabin atmosphere.


Learn more

Volkswagen Polo Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Polo Rear View

Driving

Volkswagen Polo Front View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Polo Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification