The new Volkswagen Polo
The new Volkswagen Polo

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

What’s so special about the Volkswagen Polo?

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the perennials of the supermini class: it’s been around for years and it’s as popular with young drivers as it is with retirees. In late 2017, Volkswagen introduced the sixth generation of their evergreen supermini.

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s new MQB AO platform, Volkswagen is taking the Polo into a new era with more space and improved technology. The new Volkswagen Polo range goes on sale from €16,795, and it’s now five door only.

The Volkswagen Polo has always felt more mature compared to competitors, but the competition is closing in fast, even from within the Volkswagen Group’s own stable. The SEAT Ibiza uses the same platform while new generations of the Ford Fiesta and Citroen C3 launched in the last 18 months each form compelling cases for themselves.

The Volkswagen Polo has great interior space

The use of the MQB AO underpinnings has allowed Volkswagen to create significantly more dynamic proportions for the new Polo, with a long wheelbase and short body overhangs. The body panels all sit well on this new frame, with the sort of reserved confidence that Volkswagen is known for.

The interior of the new Volkswagen Polo
The interior of the new Volkswagen Polo

The new Polo is longer and wider with a lower overall height but improved headroom versus its predecessor. Up front the Polo is one of the most spacious cars of this ilk. In the back the footwells are generous, as is headroom. Of course, it’s still going to be on the uncomfortable side for a middle passenger but the use of space is excellent on this new platform. The boot volume has grown 25% from 280 litres to 351 litres.

The interior is well-made and sturdy with familiar Volkswagen switchgear. It’s a little dull but coloured dashpads are available, which would go some way to brighten the cabin. Volkswagen is keen to stress that this Polo is the one for the digital era, so that means slick infotainment systems, seamless integration with smartphones and the option of a flashy new digital instrument cluster, available for the first time in this class.

How much does the Polo cost?

So far the Volkswagen Polo serves up a mature small car experience – but you will also pay a bit more for it. Several rivals undercut the Polo’s starting price of €16,795 and that’s for a very basic 1.0-litre, naturally aspirated three cylinder petrol engine with 65 hp. A 75 hp version of the same engine will set you back €17,350 while the tastier 95 hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit starts from a more prohibitive €21,995 – though it does come in a more well equipped Comfortline spec. There is a 1.6TDI diesel with 80 hp priced from €20,195.

The Volkswagen Polo starts from €16,795 in Ireland
The Volkswagen Polo starts from €16,795 in Ireland

The entry level Trendline models come with 15” steel wheels, four electric windows, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency breaking, pedestrian monitoring, auto headlights, 6.5” Composition Colour radio system with four speakers and Bluetooth. The Comfortline model is a much nicer equipped car with air con, cruise control, 15” alloy wheels, front fog lamps, 8” touchscreen with clear glass surround and 6 speakers, voice control and App connect.

My test car was a 1.0-litre 65hp Comfortline model with a list price of €18,695. The test car had a Technology upgrade for €499 with 16” alloys, parking sensors, lights and vision package, folding mirrors, driver alert system, and a space and weight saving spare wheel. With this engine, the Volkswagen Polo is very efficient and my fuel consumption over a week of driving was 5.2 litre/100km. Motor tax for this model is €190 per year.

Driving it

Power is not a strong point for this model. The 65 hp and 95 Nm of torque translate to lethargic performance on the road that will require some serious planning for overtaking manoeuvres! But for town driving, this 1.0-litre Polo is completely adequate.

Elsewhere, steering is light but precise, and the Polo is agile and fun within urban surroundings. The three cylinder engine transmits some vibration through the pedals at idle though generally refinement on the road is good with decent sound insulation for a small car. The Polo is also one of the most comfortable and compliant small cars. This makes it very likable.

The Volkswagen Polo: the mature small car!
The Volkswagen Polo: the mature small car!

The Volkswagen Polo is a safe choice of supermini and that is what has made it a household name over the past 40 years. It does require some investment and there are quite boring but efficient engine choices to kick the range off. The biggest threat to the Polo is the SEAT Ibiza with its more value pricing, exciting persona and similar hardware underneath that makes it equally spacious.

But realistically the Polo doesn’t have much to break into a sweat about; there will always be a market for the quiet, comfortable and dependable Volkswagen Polo!

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo 1.0-litre Comfortline
€18,695 (Range starts at €16,795)
Engine: 1.0-litre petrol
Torque: 95Nm
15.5 seconds
Top speed: 165km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd