Read Caroline’s Volkswagen Polo review for everything you need to know about buying the small hatchback from Volkswagen in Ireland.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of Ireland’s favourite small cars and has been for many years. Sales of small hatchbacks like the Polo have been in decline as customers switched to more fashionable SUVs and crossovers. But the humble hatch still has a lot to offer buyers.

Now Volkswagen has streamlined the Polo line-up in Ireland, which coincides with an update for the classic small hatchback that sees even more sophisticated style and high-tech equipment as standard than ever before.

The latest Volkswagen Polo goes on sale priced from €23,840 and is powered by a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine.

So is the Polo still up to the job? Let’s take a closer look to find out.

The Volkswagen Polo on test for Changing Lanes
The Volkswagen Polo on test for Changing Lanes

What’s so special about the Volkswagen Polo?

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the classiest small cars you can buy with handsome but understated style, and the theme continues inside.

Over the years it has grown in size, to a point where it’s roomy enough inside now to function as a small family car.

In Ireland, the Polo range is very simple. There’s the Polo Life priced from €23,840, the Polo Style from €26,995 and the Polo R-Line from €25,840. All cars come with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 95hp. Automatic versions are available for about €2,000 more.

The styling updates have been very successful, with now a more mature-looking front end. LED headlights are standard across the range and some versions get more advanced matrix LED units.

At the back, there’s a new set of lights with a horizontal design that adds width and elegance to the Polo’s road presence. Wheel sizes vary from 15- to 16-inch, with the option of a 17-inch set.

The R-Line model on test is the sportiest of the bunch with standard kit including 16-inch ‘Valencia’ alloy wheels, sportier bumpers, and exterior trim and roof spoiler finish in gloss black.

The cabin of the latest Volkswagen Polo
The cabin of the latest Volkswagen Polo

Inside the Volkswagen Polo

The Polo has one of the best cabins you will find in a small car. It’s solidly built and reassuringly simple in its design. Yet all the modern features are here – a full digital instrument panel and touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard. Entry level Life models make do with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, but Style and R-line versions get a more impressive 8-inch unit.

Some small car interiors like the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 feel a little more glamourous, but the Polo interior is a sound and comfortable place to spend time in.

Other standard features include air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The Style trim adds a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control. R-line versions have a slightly sportier ambience with sports seats, black roof liner, and stainless steel pedals.

It feels really roomy inside too, with one of the largest cabins in the segment. It’s comfortable in the back for passengers with plenty of headroom and large footwells. It definitely feels more spacious than a Peugeot 208 or a Toyota Yaris. The rear doors open wide and there are Isofix child seat fixtures on the two outer seats and the front passenger seat.

The Polo also has one of the largest boots in the class at 351 litres, with practical features like a two-position floor and a spare wheel.

The Polo range in Ireland has been streamlined with just one petrol engine on offer
The Polo range in Ireland has been streamlined with just one petrol engine on offer

Driving the Polo

On the road, the Polo drives pretty much the same as it looks. It’s a solid and steady drive, offering plenty of comfort for those on board and impressive refinement on the move – even on the motorway.

It’s not the most fun to drive small car with the steering being a little on the light side for that. But it’s perfectly agreeable with a robust quality that sees it move effortlessly from town to motorway and rural roads.

When it comes to power, there’s no choice other than the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 95hp. But it’s actually an ideal engine for the Polo and feels lively enough whether in town or on the motorway. A five-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there is the option of a 7-speed automatic.

The five-speed manual gearbox has to be worked at times to keep the engine in its sweet spot, but it settles down well to a cruise on the motorway, so you won’t actually miss a sixth gear. It’s also efficient by class standards.

Rear passenger space in the Volkswagen Polo
Rear passenger space in the Volkswagen Polo

Did you like it?

In recent years, many buyers have switched to small crossovers and SUVs like the Volkswagen Taigo and T-Cross for example, but there is still a lot to be said for a hatchback like the Polo.

The Volkswagen Polo is an easy car to recommend. These days it’s never looked better, with smart styling that looks good just about everywhere.

The Polo is easily one of the most upmarket small cars on the market in Ireland, with a classy cabin that’s comfortable and well-equipped.

What’s most impressive is the space and practicality the Polo offers inside, making it very good value indeed. On the road, it’s comfortable and refined.

Overall, the Polo is a great all-rounder and a smart choice of small car.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the best small cars you can buy
The Volkswagen Polo is one of the best small cars you can buy

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo R-Line
1.0-litre petrol
Power: 95hp
Torque: 175Nm
Top speed:  187 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h):  10.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year