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2012 Volkswagen Polo Review
  • Sharp, aggressive styling, Well balanced handling, Good fuel economy, High reliability, Comfortable
  • Performance has room for improvement, Gears can take some adjusting, Front end body kit is very low, Media Device Interface needs compatibility to be addressed, Drum brakes on rear, previous models had discs

by James G

This little Pepper Grey nugget is the 2012 VW Polo Trendline, 5 Door, 5 speed. We’ve affectionately named him Marco.

It has aggressive, sharp styling lines on the front and back lights which accompany the body and rim ‘look-alike’ hubcaps. Despite the wider bodied appearance, the Polo still has a nimble sense of hot hatchery in the design. Even on the lowest spec, this Polo has power windows standard. The interior is spacious, the seats are non-leather and are surprisingly comfortable. The front seats will cuddle you snugly in the corners, can be adjusted higher or lower and fits 6 foot gargantuan humans like myself quite comfortably.

Pulling the front wheels along is a 4 cylinder 1.4L aspirated engine running 63kW/132Nm torque, which could be brisker, but there’s a whole lot worse out there. The torque is more of a surge, with the best acceleration coming out just shy of 4000rpm.

As it’s often the case with euro cars of this type, the Polo runs 95-98 octane petrol strictly. In real world numbers, when the pumps are at around $1.30 per litre, you’ll fill up for less than $50 and topping up after about 500-600kms. These are similar numbers in fuel consumption for the Polo GTI of the same year.

The 5 speed ratios take some getting used to (particularly 1st into 2nd – 2nd is quite long) and going from a stand still takes adjusting (and slightly more throttle) compared to other vehicles. You’ll find that you need to change more often to get the most even acceleration.

Where this car really shines majestically is in the corners. The low centre of gravity, the wheelbase position, low suspension, great tyre width and the engine/transmission weight distribution make this car more than forgiving in just about any corner, with our without traction control. The power steering is sublime, and gives you a solid feel of steering without any numbness. There’s also a very little sense of heaviness around the front end that you can get with other cars of this size. It gives you a brief nibble of potential that’s in the meatier GTI.

This particular Polo came with the extra Bluetooth cradle that sits where the standard Parrot Bluetooth used to be. I’ve never used the Parrot and I’ve seen mixed experiences. VW have also hidden the Media Device Interface (MDI) in the glove box. I have found that the MDI or the Bluetooth cradle doesn’t work with more modern phones (Tested with iPhone 5S and a Sony Xperia Z2) however the Bluetooth pairing is a reasonable workaround. As a solution, I use the MDI with a USB drive for music and pair my phone to the Bluetooth. When playing, the speakers are quite impressively balanced (another trait of Volkswagens).

Overall there’s a few minor annoyances here and there (a vivid one is the front body kit being quite low, made lower with a underside plastic splitter) and the performance could be better with some form of forced induction – but day to day this is a great little car. I would even go so far as to recommend it for Learners. Just keep feeding it from the 98 trough at every opportunity.

With over 40,000kms driven (including a roadtrip through NSW, VIC and SA), I have yet to have any major fault. Servicing is typically pricey from dealers and they’ll still look after you, however there are a number of VW/Audi/Euro enthusiast mechanics out there that will service just as great for less. As with any decision of servicing, make sure you do your research.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

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2012 Volkswagen Polo Review Review
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