Great new tech, refined drive, a proper mini-Golf
New Car Reviews
New Car Review: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95hp R-Line
Good Stuff 👍
Bad Stuff 👎
Pricy at the higher end compared to Fabia or Ibiza
What is the Volkswagen Polo?
A popular supermini since 1975
Most people will have an idea what a Volkswagen Polo is, as it is one of the default small cars and has been around since 1975, so has been around for generations. These days the Polo is a lot bigger and more substantial than the diminutive 3-door that appeared back in 1975 and now it is only available as a 5-door hatchback and it has grown in dimensions to be a size similar to a 3rd-generation Volkswagen Golf. In fact, the current Polo is even wider than that Golf and is now quite substantial. The choice in Ireland is pretty limited these days, as there is increasingly less demand for this type of car, now that even buyers of small cars want them to be some kind of crossover. So for now you can only have the Polo as a 5-door petrol car, with either 80hp or the much-better turbocharged 3-cylinder with 95hp, in either 5-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG transmission.
How about the looks of the Volkswagen Polo?
A true mini-Golf
Most people will be very familiar with the lines of the Polo, a slightly more conservative and smaller 5-door hatchback not dissimilar to the Golf. The Golf has become a little more radical and stylised of late and now the Polo has followed suite with some styling changes to freshen up the model and keep it in line with the overall style themes of the Volkswagen range. The most obvious changes are at the front and the rear. The bumpers and the boot have been given a new look, as have the headlights and the tail light clusters, which now come with LED technology as standard. For the first time, there is an LED light strip along the radiator grille crossbar – which is in conjunction with the IQ.LIGHT LEF matrix headlights (standard on Style models and optional on R-Line) which are available for the first time on the Polo. There is a new design at the rear of the car, with LED tail light clusters as standard. The three-dimensional design of the tail light clusters gives a more distinctive appearance to the rear section. We were driving the R-Line version and that comes with some specific styling cues. The bumpers are different, with high-gloss black cross and longitudinal bars on the air intakes and their surrounds. There are new LED fog lights as standard on the R-Line and at the rear, and the rear of the R-Line there is a high-gloss black diffuser with chrome-look integrated exhaust panels in the lower part of the vehicle. There are 16” “Valencia” alloy wheels as standard on the R-Line but you can upgrade to 17” “Bergamo” alloy wheels for just €400. Our car came in €260 Pure White, its €845 for Metallic Paint or up to €1,100 if you want Metallic with a Black Roof.
“The Polo feels much more substantial than before and while not a very heavy car, does manage to feel better nailed together than most of its key rivals. ”
What is the Volkswagen Polo like inside?
Well kitted out and good quality
The main upgrade to the Polo is the adoption of the so-called Digital Cockpit that features in models higher up the Volkswagen food chain. This is now fitted as standard and comes with an 8-inch screen and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although there is a larger Discover Pro Navigation System available with a 9.2-inch screen for €1,005. Standard in some markets in the Style version but optional in Ireland is the €400 Digital Cockpit Pro, which is a 10.25” set of digital instruments, which look particularly well when combined with the larger Discover Pro system. Standard in the R-Line we were driving is the Ready2Discover system with an 8” display, 6-speakers and Wireless App Connect. The overall quality and finish of the Polo has improved and it doesn’t really feel like a supermini anymore, more like a larger family hatchback. At the rear, luggage space of 351-litres is decent too and one of the largest in class.
What's the Volkswagen Polo like to drive?
Light steering and easy to navigate
The Polo feels much more substantial than before and while not a very heavy car, does manage to feel better nailed together than most of its key rivals. GTI-aside it would never really be described as a particularly entertaining car to drive as in particular in Ireland it doesn’t get the most sparking engines, although they are much improved from what would have been offered five or so years ago. The entry-level 80hp MPI engine is pretty dreary and is best-avoided, but the 95hp TSI is good, which pretty much double the torque of the naturally aspirated unit and its also nearly five seconds quicker to 100km/h than the MPI unit. This is an easy car to park, especially now that it comes with a very decent, high-quality reversing camera and the steering is light, but does offer decent feedback.
The Polo has been around since 1975
Which Volkswagen Polo should I buy?
Style spec makes the most sense
Although we were driving the Polo R-Line, which is the best-looking Polo, the brand’s product team seem to have put the most effort and value into the specification of the Style model, so this makes the most sense in terms of a car to spend your money on, as it comes with the better Discover Media Navigation system as standard, which costs an extra €679 in the R-Line, and it comes with the LED Matrix Headlights as standard and these would cost you €1,329 in the R-Line – those two items alone are worth over €2,000 and the Style is only €1,135 more expensive than the R-Line. You do miss out on larger wheels on the Style version, however – with only 15” wheels as standard and you’ll need €765 to upgrade to the handsome “Tortosa” alloys.
Is the Volkswagen Polo safe?
5-star Euro NCAP
With the addition of the latest driver assistance systems as standard, including Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic Assist in the Style and R-Line models, this makes the Polo one of the best-equipped small cars when it comes to safety systems. The 2017 car was a 5-star Euro NCAP car (safety tests) and with the addition of even more systems this score is unlikely to change.
The Polo has to fight hard for attention these days, but try and you quickly remember that this has now grown-up to become a very competent and high-class small family car. If you don’t need a big car, but still want to feel upmarket, then you won’t go too far wrong with one of these.
Spec Check ⚙️
Volkswagen Polo 1.0 95hp R-Line
999cc three-cylinder petrol engine
Annual Motor Tax
Price as tested