Authors Note: As this review is written, I am half way through my year as an L-plater in NSW so I cannot give feedback at 90km/h+ highway speed.
November 2015 rolls around and our tired 2005 Volvo XC70 estate of 3 years needs a replacement, and with the added benefit of a tax rebate we take home a beautiful new 2015 VW Polo 81TSI with the 6 speed manual in Sunset Red. The idea to buy small had two main points: 1. better fuel economy than the 12 to 13 litres per 100km of the Volvo (and 16.4 of the petrol 100 series the Volvo replaced) and 2. when the four years are up, the car can be passed to me when I achieve red P-plate status in July of this year. My dad couldn’t have picked a better choice.
Snickers, as we quickly dubbed our Polo, was bought as a demo model (with the only dealer kilometres done by us for test drives) for $19,990, which is four grand off the marked $24,000 sticker price. It came in the beautiful Sunset Red and had both the Sport Package and tech/comfort package. So Snickers has 17-inch, dual five spoke wheels, sportier suspension and exhaust whilst also having a 4-5 inch touch screen and steering controls. The suspension may be too firm for some people but both my dad and I quite like it.
Snickers’ powertrain is an absolute wonder; a turbocharged and supercharged 1.2-litre 4-cylinder which makes 81kW at 4600-5600rpm and 175Nm at 1500-3500rpm which packs quite a punch and can easier chirp the tires off the lights (I have done so before, accidentally, to my parents disapproval). Its mated to a 6-speed manual transmission which I think is possibly the best transmission VW make, being infinitely better than the DSG in our 206 Passat Wagon (review on the way. It’s smooth with a reasonably short throw that you can “easily snick it into gear”, which is where the name came from. Ratios are good with 1st going to about 50kph, 2nd to 90kph (my legal max :( ) and 3rd to over 150kph. 6th gear will cruise at 90 just over 2000rpm and 110kph comes in at about 23-2400.
The inside of Snickers is a really nice place to be and was significantly further ahead in terms of quality to the other vehicles we considered (looking at you Ford Focus/Fiesta). The seats are very supportive up front and really hug you through the corners (it’s through roundabouts and mountain roads that it’s really noticed). The seat is patterned in what reminds me of the tartan interior of old (even though it doesn’t look it). The front seats are manual adjusting and thankfully go back far enough for my 6’4 dad and my 6′ self. The steering wheel is nice to hold onto, its nice sizing and comfortable leather feel incredible for all journeys and the touch controls on the wheel are easy to navigate once you obviously figure out what each one does. The centre dash houses the small touchscreen display unit which works well, although its worth pointing out that I am not allowed to do anything with whilst driving. Bluetooth pairs and plays music well, although there is no Apple CarPlay or AndroidAuto or sat-nav in this model, though, with these features coming in the 2016 model as an option, I believe. The back bench is comfortable and will carry three kids in the back (I have ferried my 13 year old brothers mates around, not fun) but is more suited to two people. With our cars, legroom is always an issue, but Snickers does well for us, although not many will be comfortable if they have to sit behind my giant of a dad for more than an hour or two. The boot is decent at 280 litres with the seats up, and it can easily fit a weeks grocery shopping (making use of the side bag hooks) or – as we did a few weeks ago – carry four new ceiling fans and my brother’s sleeping gear with the two seats down. Folding all seats expanded the boot to 952 litres, which is perfect for our runs into town with mower, whippersnipper and extras to mow the lawn out the back of our shop.
The practicality of our Polo really did surprise me. With some roof-bars from Thule we can do just about anything: Three bikes out to the national park, done. Five surfboards and and some mates for a surf, no problem. It’s a really versatile car and it’s real strong point.
In the 3 years of ownership, Snickers has clocked 29,771kms. Fuel is quite good with an overall average of 6.6L/100km since purchase. Considering the heavy traffic on the Coffs Harbour highway at rush hour, its admirable. On average Snickers will go 600-700kms without needing a drink, and even then it’s $50-60 for a full tank of 98RON.
Service costs from the dealer however are shocking. Our last bill was over $600, which for a small hatch is a bit extreme. Thankfully we have a licensed mechanic who lives over the road that has serviced our last three cars.
Overall this little Polo is a gem of a car, not to mention part of the dying breed of 3 pedals. I honestly can’t actually see myself selling it or letting it be sold in the near future.