Of the trio of new Volkswagen models introduced in time for the September 64 plate sales month,
the new Polo, the new and roomier Golf SV and the ‘hot’ 300PS Golf R, the Polo range of three and five door models
with a range of new Euro 6 compliant engines will be the most significant to most people although the Golf range actually outsells the Polo.
The Polo B-segment ‘supermini’ line up of three and five door hatchbacks is VW’s second best selling model range with 42,609 UK registrations last year making it the eighth most popular range in the UK’s top ten sales chart – two positions below the Golf C-segment range of Hatchbacks, Estates and Cabriolets.
Since the launch of the original Polo in 1975 total sales worldwide amount to 14 million with over 1.23 million of them in the UK.
The latest generation Polo sees it become a visual but smaller cloned version of the seventh generation Golf Hatchback range. It looks like a Golf inside and out only just a bit smaller in size and price. The latest models start from £11,100 and go up to £19,715. In the UK 70% of sales go to retail customers and just fewer than 70% of customers choose a five door model. The most popular model, because of price, will be the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, 60PS, five-speed manual, five-door with SE specification and priced at £13,065.
The new Polo range has a range of Euro 6 compliant engines offering gains of up to 26% in terms of fuel and CO2 efficiency over the old units. The mainstay petrol engines are two three-cylinder, 1.0-litre units with 60 or 75PS power outputs, two 1.2-litre four-cylinder TSI turbo engines with 90 or 110PS and a remarkable 1.4-litre TSI cylinder deactivation unit with 150PS of power. Diesel customers have the choice of a 1.4-litre TDI engine but with power outputs of 75 or 90PS. At the end of this year a 1.0-litre, 95PS, three cylinder BlueMotion petrol engine will join the line-up as will a 1.4 TDI BlueMotion turbodiesel with 75PS which will return 91.1mpg.
The engine choice is wide ranging and so is the choice of spec levels with S, SE, SE Design SEL and BlueGT (1.4 TSI engine only). Later in the year a Polo GTI with manual and DSG gearbox choices will join the line-up.
All new Polo models have as standard electronic control stability, hill hold, automatic post-collision braking, BlueMotion technology of battery energy recovery and stop/start function, an excellent new modular infotainment system with touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity whilst navigation can be added on SE trim upwards versions for £700. DAB radio is standard on the base S version and air con for all versions above the S level. The most popular SE specification includes 15-inch alloy wheels, electrically operated front windows and door mirrors, leather covered multi-function steering wheel and handbrake, multifunction display, remote central locking, split/folding rear seat backs and variable height load floor in the boot.
Inside the latest Polo looks just like a Golf with clean uncluttered controls and instruments, a good driving position, good visibility and a high quality finish. Whilst it perhaps cannot offer the driving finesse of a Ford Fiesta it certainly has a nicer and better interior.
The exterior changes, as I’ve said, makes the new Polo looks like a scaled-down Golf with the same family face which has to be a good thing. The handling too has Golf-like qualities, it’s nimble, agile and well controlled but perhaps the ride refinement isn’t quite as accomplished as the larger Golf or indeed the Polo’s main competitor – the Ford Fiesta. By no means is the ride hard – it’s just a bit unsettled but better that the outgoing Polo – but not class-leading.
When it comes to the choice of engines the 1.0-litre, three cylinder 60PS (59bhp) normally aspirated petrol engine will be the most popular because of its lower purchase price coupled with good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions which all add up to low running costs. For a non-turbocharged engine this unit is pleasantly responsive, better than some turbo units but it needs to be revved quite hard to get the best from it during acceleration. Maximum torque is 95Nm or 70lb ft from 3,000rpm so there is plenty of gearbox use needed to keep the engine in its happy zone. That said it’s flexible enough to offer smooth travel in higher gears in slow moving traffic where most Polos tend to be used for the daily commute to work or to the shops. If I was using a Polo for regular long journeys and motorway travel I would choose the 1.2 TSI 90PS four cylinder turbo petrol unit, it offers more ‘meaty’ response and flexibility and in real-life shouldn’t return much less in the way of fuel economy because it will not be worked as hard. Trouble is it costs £1,145 more to buy.
Back to the best selling1.0-litre, 60PS, three cylinder engine; top speed is 100mph, zero to 62mph takes a lengthy 15.5 seconds, officially the fuel consumption is 60.1mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test drive, using Cotswold A/B country roads, returned 51.7mpg. The CO2 emissions are 106g/km so VED road tax is £0 for the First Year rate and then only £20 a year thereafter.
Overall the new VW Polo is a big step forwards, it’s just like a Golf only smaller and less costly.
MILESTONES. Volkswagen Polo 1.0-litre, 60PS, 5-speed manual, SE, 5-Door. Price: £13,065 (best selling model). Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, non-turbo, petrol 59bhp, 75lb ft of torque from 3,000rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 100mph, 0-62mph 15.5 seconds, 60.1mpg Combined Cycle (51.7mpg on test), CO2 106g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year then £20 per annum thereafter. Insurance group: 6E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. For: Looks like a new Golf inside and out, high build quality, impressive new infotainment system, new refined Euro 6 compliant engines, agile and nimble handling, low running costs. Against: Ride refinement, 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine is more responsive and easier to live with on longer journeys. Miles better news agency