It’s bigger and smoother – but is it able to topple the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza?
Volkswagen has got radical with this, the sixth-generation Polo supermini. It’s genuinely an all-new car, built on mechanicals related to the Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, plus cars as diverse as the Skoda Karoq, Seat Arona and upcoming VW T-Cross Breeze compact SUVs. It’s bigger all-round, considerably so in some areas, but just how much better is it than the old one?
Supermini buyers will be eager to find out: UK deliveries begin in November, of the initial six-engine launch range that includes the sweet-spot 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol we’re testing here. You’ll be able to get more, including a 197bhp 2.0-litre GTI, but for many, this will be enough.
In the metal, the Polo certainly looks a more substantial car than the old one. It has a confident new look with strong lines on the body sides whose robust appearance wouldn’t be out of place on a premium car. It oozes quality and the tolerances used in construction are amazing.
It’s a big improvement inside too, with a fresh new look dominated by a high-mounted touchscreen and, on more upmarket versions, a soft-touch dash. There’s plenty of onboard technology, with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring systems, while the standard hill-holder function will be invaluable to many.
Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 115
Price: circa £13,500 (exact price TBC)
Engine: 1.0-litre. three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Torque: 129lb ft
Kerb weight: 1145kg
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 116mph
CO2/tax band: 101g/km, 19%
Pity there are some surprising oversights, then. Visibility isn’t as good as it could be, there’s no standard USB socket and some of the interior plastics lower down the dash are rough. But more interior space than before should compensate, with lots more room front and rear, even if the shallow windows mean it doesn’t necessarily feel as accommodating. No questions with boot space though: 351 litres is a huge improvement.
This more mature feel carries across onto the road. The engine is excellent, with tremendous smoothness and willingness, and ample pulling power even at low revs. It’s quieter than before too, and the gearbox is easy.
The new Polo also rides nicely, with a supple and pliant ride making it feel notably calm and settled, both in town and at higher speeds. The handling is more stable and assured, with more grip and less roll, although it’s still not as much fun to drive as rivals such as the new Ford Fiesta. The charisma of others is still absent.
But apart from this, and a few grumbles inside, the new Polo is hard to fault. How it will fare alongside talented rivals such as the Fiesta and Ibiza remains to be seen, but on first evidence, it’s going to give them a tough fight. Add in the Polo’s further strides in quality and premium feel, and we have little doubt this new one will simply carry on where previous successful versions have left off.