I settled into the Polo and a question arose: it feels pretty spacious, so how does it compare to the Golf?
Car Reviewed: Volkswagen Polo Style 1.0 TSI 95 5-spd manual
In the car industry, long-running models tend to grow in size. Well, of course, the Golf is bigger, but if you look back over the models (and the Golf is now in its seventh iteration), the current Volkswagen Polo is actually bigger than a Mark 3 Golf; be that as it may, the test car — in mid-range Style trim with a 1-litre 95PS 3-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual gearbox — proved to be comfortable for four adults.
Access to the rear is good thanks to the rear passengers’ doors opening wide. The boot has the usual, easy-folding seat system for a reasonable amount of luggage to quite a lot if totally expanded.
Out on the road, the VW Polo was pleasant, easy to drive, and generally quiet up to 70mph with just a touch of wind noise thereafter.
Night-time driving is assisted by easy-to-read instrumentation and excellent headlights.
The manual gear change was light and snappy. The instrument cluster included the usual indication of when to change gear; however, although this no doubt is the most efficient point, it doesn’t in practice feel quite right because the 3-cylinder engine causes some reverberation in the cabin. When, for example, pulling from fourth to fifth…my tendency is to prevent that reverberation by revving a bit higher. The car will, however, forge on happily at that indicated point, with its maximum torque of 129 lb/ft available from 1,600rpm. Acceleration is a satisfactory 0-62 mph in 10.8 seconds.
Driver assistance includes:
- The hill-hold function.
- Front and rear parking sensors.
- A clever ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) helps you keep a proper distance from the vehicle in front and brake if the critical point is reached.
Indicated fuel consumption over about three hundred miles in all traffic conditions was a satisfactory 52.4 mpg, which compares well with the official combined figure of 53.8 mpg. The 40-litre tank, therefore, has a range of around 450 miles. The Polo’s Stop/Start system no doubt helps with economy.
As expected, the steering and handling were very good, as was the progressive braking that regenerates the battery. At the same time, the continuously poor and challenging local road surfaces were managed as well as any other short-wheelbase car might.
An intelligent interior features a ‘Deep Iron Gloss’ (shiny piano black, in other words) facia. The driver has the company’s latest ‘Digital Cockpit’, a 10.25” TFT screen featuring customisable menus and info.
Among the safety features are lane departure warning and autonomous steering for lane-keeping (Lane Assist, now a standard feature on all Polo versions). Rather than continuing with my normal practice of switching these off (if possible), usually because of the audible alarm part of the warning system, I decided to live with it because there was no audible alarm set. For the whole week, therefore, I let the Polo do its thing, and, somewhat to my surprise, I actually found myself appreciating it, helping me stick to the straight and narrow, so to speak.
Given the impressive range of equipment: 2-zone electronic air-conditioning, electric windows all-round, heated mirrors with the passenger-side mirror automatically showing the kerb rear-view (although I found this was not always what I wanted). In addition, Volkswagen’s We Connect 3-year subscription offers almost everything that anyone who can’t bear to be out of touch with the world needs.
The Volkswagen Polo Style, of course, remains a serious competitor in the small hatch sector — price as tested: £23,800.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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