IF you’ve been around a bit and I’ll hold my hand up to that then you’ll remember the Polo being the small entry level model into the burgeoning VW range.
Not any more. Well, not small anyway. Today’s Polo has an equivalent size to the Golf as it used to be.
It’s grown into a decent sized family offering, the five door model sampled here offering decent space for the modern man about town and his growing clan.
And as ever it majors on the Q word – quality. Subtle chrome edging to much of the equipment in the cabin give it a prestige look and feel – heater vents, round the dash, on the steering wheel. You can’t help but notice it.
I always used to look on chrome trimming as a tacky touch and not a very good way to tart up the interior of a car – look at Fords of old for the answer to that one – but nowadays manufacturers have got it down to a fine art.
And VW are the undoubted masters. A bit of shine here, coupled with some subtle piano black, and it doesn’t come much better.
Polo isn’t a stand out car on the road. Its lines are elegant enough but there’s nothing to excite you as you walk up to it. In fact you could walk right past it as it’s almost anonymous.
But it’s that classy interior and what the car does that you’re buying into.
The engine in this SEL sampled here is a real gem. You only get three cylinders for the pricetag with this 1.4 diesel but they’re willing workers. Very willing workers.
It clatters on start up but on the move it proves to be very user friendly in that it doesn’t assault your eardrums. It’s very torquey and pulls well from the start and while you’re never in any danger of over-revving it as it runs out of puff a bit when you get to the 3500rpm mark, its gearing is such that maintaining a decent speed is never a problem. It pulls like an over-eager puppy in the park.
Suspension seems well set up, soft enough to be comfortable but with a firmness that takes out the worst of the ruts in the road.
Its cabin is a decent enough size, exceptionally well finished with good quality materials and one to be appreciated. It has typical VW prestige appeal.
Doors open nice and wide for easy access, important for the elderly end of the market who need more manoeuvrability when it comes to getting in and out.
SEL as tested here came with a lot of equipment aimed at making your life safer. As well as the standard touchscreen with Bluetooth and media connections, DAB radio, CD player, stop/start, hill hold, and somewhat surprisingly these days a full size spare wheel, SEL gives you cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a bigger touchscreen which like a smart phone reacts to wiping movements to select modes, air con, front and rear reading lights,a bit of leather trimming and a multifunction computer.
And there are enough buttons (15) on the steering wheel to keep you occupied for quite a while.
Delve into the options list and you might want to consider Automatic Distance Control, which uses a radar sensor integrated in the front of the car to detect the distance from the car in front and maintain a preselected speed, automatically braking and accelerating in traffic.
Polo is VW’s second best selling UK model, the bulk of buyers being retail customers.
They won’t be disappointed with this. Not a cheap car, but quality always costs a bit more….
FASTFACTS: Volkswagen Polo SEL; £16,750; 1.4 litre three cylinder turbocharged diesel, five speed manual gearbox; top speed 114mph, 0-62mph 10.9secs; fuel – urban 70.6, extra urban 91.1, combined 83.1; CO2 88g/km; will it fit the garage? 3972/1682/1453 (l/w/h); three year/60,000 mile warranty.