Volkswagen Polo (2010-2018) Review

The Volkswagen Polo is a spacious and high-quality supermini with an upmarket image.

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Spacious inside
  • High-quality interior
  • Broad range of efficient engines
  • Looks quite ordinary
  • More expensive than rivals
  • Not as fun to drive as Ford Fiesta

Volkswagen Polo prices from £8,500   Finance from £175.06 per month

Despite being replaced by a new model at the beginning of 2018, this version of the Volkswagen Polo remains a class-leading supermini. It still looks and feels like a mini version of the Volkswagen Golf and drives with a level of comfort and quietness that rivals a larger car. That quality has not been lost with age, a smaller version of the Golf's touchscreen media display with digital radio and Bluetooth is standard across the range and helps to keep it feeling up-to-date even in the shadow of its replacement.

You may find that it's all the car you'll need because there's space for two adults to sit comfortably in the back. It's only when you get to the very back that the Polo shows a weakness: the 280-litre boot is a little bit smaller than other superminis, though the Ford Fiesta does only beat it by 10 litres. The car does come with a good amount of internal storage, though, with large door bins, cupholders and a large, well-sized glovebox which also houses the CD player. We've listed the full VW Polo dimensions separately.

So far, so good - and sensible. The Polo really is a car that you buy with your head, because while it does look good, it's not particularly exciting. It's got none of the design flair that you'll find in a Mini Hatchback, Citroen C3 or Mazda 2.

It also feels steady, safe and smooth on the road, like a Citroen C3 and Skoda Fabia, rather than agile and nimble like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Mazda 2 and Mini Hatchback.

The engines are mainly designed with fuel economy in mind, with a couple of 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre petrol options making up the majority. More powerful 1.4-litre petrols were available later, along with the GTI model. Efficient diesels came in 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre sizes, and are better suited to drivers who regularly take long motorway trips where they can pretty easily exceed 60mpg. It pays to ensure that you're buying the car with the correct engine for you.

The Polo was crash tested in 2009, just before going on sale for the first time, and received a five-star score from Euro NCAP. It's got plenty of safety equipment as standard, including two sets of Isofix mounts for securely attaching a child seat in the back, brakes that will automatically be applied after a crash to help prevent the car from skidding, and airbags front and side airbags for the driver and passenger.

However, the current Euro NCAP tests have become considerably harder, so rivals such as the spacious Honda Jazz, Citroen C3, Hyundai i20 and Mazda 2, which received four or five stars more recently, are likely much safer. Still, later models of the Polo are safer than earlier models due to the standard safety kit being improved over time.

 

Key facts

Warranty 3 years, 60,000 miles
Boot size 280 litres
Width 1,682mm
Length 3,972mm
Height 1,453mm

Best Volkswagen Polo for...

Best for Economy – Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDI Match

The 1.4 TDI is the only diesel in the range and returns 83mpg, based on official figures. It was available in Match, R-Line and SEL trims.

Best for Families – Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Match

The 1.2-litre SE offers a good blend of performance and economy, as well as a reasonable price. 5 doors mean easy access to rear seats for passengers.

Best for Performance – Volkswagen Polo GTI

The Polo GTI has 190hp and looks just like a mini version of the bigger, iconic Golf GTI. It comes in a choice of three and five-door models with manual or automatic (DSG) gearbox. It will go from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, which is quick even by today's standards.

One to Avoid – Volkswagen Polo 1.0 MPI S

The entry-level Polo comes with very little equipment for the price, plus the smallest 1.0-litre engine feels underpowered, especially if you regularly carry passengers.

Understanding Volkswagen Polo names

Engine 1.2 TSI 90 PS

Polo engines include petrol (MPI or TSI) and diesel (TDI) and the size is given in litres (here it's 1.2). Some engines are the same size but available with different levels of power, so you'll often see the horsepower provided, which can be written as PS. There are no hybrid or electric versions of the Polo, however a GTI performance hot hatch was available.

Gearbox DSG

DSG indicates an automatic gearbox. Most Polos were sold with a manual gearbox, though.

Match Trim

The Polo trims (S, SE, SE Design, Match, BlueMotion, BlueGT, R-Line, GTI) tell you the amount of equipment and general level of luxury of the car. S is the entry-level.

Volkswagen Polo Engines

1.0 MPI, 1.0 TSI, 1.2 TSI, 1.4 TSI ACT, 1.8 TSI, 1.2 TDI, 1.4 TDI,

The Volkswagen Polo engine range is broad, so there should be something to suit all tastes. The range kicks off with the 1.0 MPI petrol that’s also found in the smaller Volkswagen Up city car; this engine is best avoided as it's not suited to the heavier Polo. The 1.0 TSI comes in two flavours - 60hp and 75hp - but even this is not quick.

The pick of the bunch is the 1.2 TSI which comes with 90hp or 110hp; it's the latter that makes for a smooth ride both in town and further afield. The 1.2 TSI BlueMotion introduced in 2014 even promises almost 70mpg, a high figure by any standards.

1.4 TSI engines are more sophisticated as they are able to shut down two of the four cylinders when not being pushed, making them more efficient under real-world driving. The 150hp also means it's pretty nippy.

If you want a diesel engine, it's either the 1.4 TDI with its 75hp or 90hp, or the three-cylinder 1.2 TDI which delivers 75hp and over 90mpg. Getting this is very unlikely, but this engine remains the most efficient in the Polo range.

At the top of the petrol range is a 1.8 TSI which is fitted to the GTI hot hatch version, though earlier versions had a powerful 1.4 TSI instead.

Engine Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph

Top speed

1.0 MPI

Petrol

60.1mpg

60bhp

15.5s

100mph

1.0 TSI BMT

Petrol

68.9mpg

93bhp

10.5s

119mph

1.0 TSI

Petrol

60.1mpg

108bhp

9.3s

121mph

1.2 TSI

Petrol

60.1mpg

89bhp

10.8s

114mph

1.4 TSI ACT

Petrol

58.9mpg

148bhp

7.8s

131mph

1.8 TSI GTI

Petrol

47.1mpg

189bhp

6.7s

147mph

1.4 TDI

Diesel

83.1mpg

73bhp

12.9s

108mph

Volkswagen Polo Trims

S, S A/C, SE, SE Design, SEL, Match, BlueMotion, BlueGT, R-Line, GTI

The Volkswagen Polo range is fairly comprehensive, and different trim levels came and went throughout its entire life. This is why listing the standard specification is impossible.

The Polo S is the entry-level model and is quite basic. It was launched to keep the cost low, as an affordable way to get a quality set of wheels. S A/C models just about managed air-con.

SESEL and Match models are on the lower end of the mid-range offering. One of these would make for a sensible choice.

R-Line adds a sporty bodykit and the economical BlueMotion is the choice for cost-conscious buyers. BlueGT comes exclusively with the 1.4 TSI ACT engine and features bespoke BlueGT trim and styling touches inside and out, while GTI adds larger alloys, plenty of GTI badges, red trim and tartan seats.

Volkswagen Polo Reliability and warranty

The Volkswagen Polo came with a three-year, 60,000-mile new car warranty as standard. If you're buying recent carm then the remainer of the warranty will be transferred to you.

The warranty isn’t as long as the ones you’ll find in the Kia Rio (seven years) and Hyundai i20 (five years), but the Polo is solidly put together, with high-quality materials inside and tight panel gaps outside which suggests good attention to detail in the manufacturing process.

In the 2015 Driver Power survey, the Polo came 167th out of 200 overall, which is disappointing considering VW’s reputation for solid reliability and build quality. It’s a safe car, though, and earned a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2009.

Used Volkswagen Polo

Like the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta, the Volkswagen Polo is a very popular car on the second-hand market. Its solid build quality, upmarket image and comfortable driving experience means it’s slightly more expensive to buy than its main rivals. It may be more expensive to buy in the first place, but this is offset by the car’s ability to retain a lot of its value come resale time.

The choice is endless when considering a used Polo, but we think the 1.0 TSI is great for first-time buyers and learner drivers (starting at  £8,500 on BuyaCar) and the 1.4 TSI is best for a blend of efficiency and performance (starting at £8,500 on BuyaCar). Meanwhile, GTI models offer the best performance from as little as  ; we recommend going for the 1.8 TSI over the older 1.4 TSI.

Other Editions

Polo (2018)

Bigger than ever, the "small" Volkswagen Polo now has enough space for an entire family