Petite proportions, refined styling and a five-star ANCAP rating make the Volkswagen Polo a very tidy package
Volkswagen Polo Review
- 2010 Volkswagen Polo Trendline; 1.4-litre, four cylinder, petrol, five-speed manual, three-door hatch - $16,990*
Petite proportions, refined styling and a five-star ANCAP rating make the Volkswagen Polo a very tidy package – and a worthy contender in the light car segment. However, light car favourites such as the Mazda2, Holden Barina, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta continue to steal the limelight – and sales.
The Polo is the entry level Volkswagen and is available in three specification levels, a 1.4-litre Trendline, a 1.2-litre 77TSI Comfortline and a 1.6-litre 66TDI Comfortline. All of which are available with a manual or DSG transmission.
I’m testing the 1.4-litre Trendline which is available as a three-door hatch only.
The 1.4-litre engine of the Volkswagen Polo delivers a perky 63kW at 5,000rpm and 132Nm at 3,800rpm. It’s adequate power for a city-based vehicle of this size and weight, but pulls up a little weak on more demanding roads and when travelling at freeway speeds.
Around town, the Volkswagen Polo is a pleasure to drive and a breeze to manouvre. Measuring at just 4064mm long and 1682mm wide, you’re really not occupying much road space. The five-speed manual gearbox is smooth and gear ratios are well spaced. The often tedious task of changing gears around short trip driving is non-existent thanks to a silky smooth gear shift and light clutch.
The additional power and direct turbo injection you get on the Comfortline would be a welcome upgrade. At a price, of course. The Tendline manual transmission costs $16,990, the 77TSI Comfortline $19,850 and the 66TDI Comfortline $22,350 – also both in manual transmission.
The Polo’s steering is light and yet provides adequate feedback for confident handling. You’ll feel a nice connection with the road.
The suspension set up on the Polo is a not as smooth as I’d hoped, even a little rough at times, but far from uncomfortable. There’s also a bit of road noise to be heard in the cabin.
The driver and front passenger have surprisingly good space and comfort is great. The cloth trim seats are firm and nicely bolstered. The driving position is good, providing easy access to the centre console and good seat and steering wheel adjustability caters to a variety of driver shapes and sizes.
The plastic steering wheel is cheap and tacky in hand, and detracts from the otherwise very stylish and refined interior of the Polo. The centre console and instrumentation is very nicely finished.
This entry level Polo misses out on a multi-function wheel and cruise control, a nicety that many of its competitors offer as standard. For an additional $900, you can option the Comfort Package which includes automatic climate control air conditioning, automatically dimming interior rear-view mirror, cruise control, height adjustable front centre armrest with storage compartment, low tyre pressure indicator, multi-function display, multi-function leather steering wheel and rain sensing windscreen wipers.
Second row in the Polo is snug – as you might expect. Entry to the second row is quite good. I even installed a baby seat and managed to cope with loading a baby in and out of the back seat every day without too much hassle.
While there is room for three in the second row, I wouldn’t want to be sitting three-up back there. Two people fit comfortably, leg room included. There are no creature comforts in the second row however - no directional air vents, no opening windows and no storage.
All five passengers have headrests and three point safety belts. There’s also provision to fit three child seats in the second row.
Despite the minute proportions of the Polo, the hatch and 60/40 split fold system provides a decent space if you need to pack a load.
The Polo’s exterior looks modern with its body coloured bumper bars, door handles and wing mirrors, tinted glass. Even this baby of the Volkswagen stable boasts some handsome Volkswagen genes.
Fourteen inch steel wheels are an appropriate pick for this cars character. A full size steel spare wheel is also included.
The Polo’s audio/entertainment system is adequate, but young and/or tech savvy buyers may be left wanting. It includes an AM/FM radio with MP3 compatible CD player, auxiliary input and six speakers. A Bluetooth hands free kit is available as an accessory.
Fuel consumption for the Polo Trendline manual transmission is quoted at 6.1 litres per 100km for a combined cycle, 8.2 for an urban cycle and 4.9 for extra urban.
The Volkswagen Polo receives a five-star safety rating from ANCAP. Safety features include six airbags – twin front, side and curtain - as standard, along with anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
The Volkswagen Polo exudes a very different personality to its rivals – slightly mature and distinctly premium. While on paper there are obvious gaps if you compare spec for spec – in both power and equipment - there’s something about the Polo that I find enticing. I’d certainly recommend small car buyers get behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo and draw their own comparison.
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