Volkswagen Polo

A quality supermini with engines to suit all needs

This is the average score given by leading car publications from 12 reviews
  • Economical engines
  • High equipment levels
  • Quality cabin
  • Sluggish basic petrol engines
  • Dull to drive
  • Not the cheapest in class

£11,525 - £20,140 Price range


5 Seats


58 - 74 MPG


The Volkswagen Polo is a small hatchback that rivals the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Honda Jazz. What makes it stand out is its exceptional build quality and comfortable ride.

The Polo is available as a sporty-looking three-door or a more practical five door. There is ample room for passengers and a decent boot, no matter which body style you opt for.

A broad range of technologically advanced engines is available for the Polo that offer an impressive combination of low running costs and spritely performance, regardless if they’re petrol or diesel.

Driving the Polo is very easy. The ride quality is regarded as one of the best in class, it’s decently quiet at speed and the light steering makes for easy manoeuvres in town.

Even entry-level S models come fitted with electric windows, an infotainment system with a five-inch touchscreen and a Bluetooth connection for your phone. The only thing missing is air-conditioning, which is standard on Polo S A/C models and above. If you’re after something special, check out the VW Polo Beats Edition which gets an upgraded stereo and unique bodywork.

Read our colour and dimensions guides to decide whether the Volkswagen Polo is right for you.

Volkswagen is preparing an all-new Polo to be launched as early as 2017. For full details of everything we know so far, read our dedicated 2017 Volkswagen Polo price, specs and release date article.

Sit inside the Polo and the overall impression you get is that the cabin is a cut above rivals. VW has systematically improved build and material quality and now the interior is one of the best out of any small car this side of a more expensive Audi A1.

The charm of the Polo’s interior is its ease of use. Every button is positioned exactly where it should be and getting to grips with all the equipment is quick and easy.

The snappy infotainment with a five-inch touchscreen is as easy to operate as your smartphone and, just like it, recognises swiping gestures. You can also pair your phone via a Bluetooth or USB connection. The bigger 6.5-inch infotainment system with sat-nav is a £700 option.

Volkswagen Polo passenger space

In the pursuit of stylish design, some of the Polo’s rivals (cars including the Mini Hatchback and Fiat 500) have quite cramped rear seats. That is not the case with the small VW – it easily sits four six-footers in comfort. Headroom is about on par with the Ford Fiesta, but the Polo’s rear bench feels wider.

Thanks to large windows the Polo has great all-round visibility while the driving position is spot on. The steering wheel can be adjusted for reach as well as height so drivers of all sizes can find a comfortable driving position.

Cabin practicality is boosted by large cupholders, and 12V sockets in the dash – ideal for charging mobile phones and other handheld devices on the move.

Volkswagen Polo boot space and storage

Even though it’s not the most practical car in class, the Polo can hold a lot of luggage. At 280 litres it has a bigger load area than the Ford Fiesta (276 litres), but the Honda Jazz remains the practical small hatchback king with a boot capacity of 354 litres. Should you need more space in the Polo you can fold down the 60/40 splitting rear seat and the total volume expands to 952 litres. A more secure place of storing valuables can be found below a false floor in the boot, standard on Match models and above.

Being easy to drive and comfortable is the Polo’s main focus. The compact VW isn’t as fun to chuck at a corner as some rivals, but the Polo has a cosseting ride. It has large reserves of grip and, when on the move, some testers say it has the secure feel of a larger car.

Testers point out that, although the steering is nicely weighted, it doesn’t provide the sharp responses needed to truly enjoy driving the car. For ultimate driving thrills you should really consider the Ford Fiesta.

There is an engine to suit any buyer in the Polo line-up with eight power outputs from four petrols and one diesel. Our pick would be either the turbocharged 1.0-litre or the 1.4-litre petrol for their impressive combination of cheap running costs and decent performance.

Volkswagen Polo petrol engines

The petrol range kicks off with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol. In its least expensive form it produces 59hp which makes it cheap-to-run – it can return fuel economy of 60mpg and its annual road tax costs just £20. Even though the engine is fuel efficient, it’s not the fastest out there – you’d struggle to keep up with traffic on the motorway, for example. A better choice is the 73hp version which is just about quick enough, costs the same to tax and with 58mpg achievable is only slightly thirstier on fuel.

Next in the range is another three cylinder engine with the same capacity, but thanks to a turbocharger it has more pulling power. It’s available in two power outputs – 93hp and 108hp. Only available in the BlueMotion model, the 93hp version can achieve 68.9mpg which is commendable for a petrol engine and also qualifies for free road tax thanks to its 96g/km CO2 emissions. The 108hp version also gets free road tax, but is only available in the top-spec R-Line model and with a 0-62mph sprint taking 9.3 seconds, it’s decently quick.

The first four-cylinder in the petrol range is a turbocharged 1.2-litre engine. It produces 88hp, but doesn’t have enough positive qualities to make it recommendable. Some of the smaller petrols beat its 60mpg combined fuel consumption figure and, with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, it’s far from the pace of the bigger 1.4-litre model.

The most powerful engine you can get if you don’t go for the GTI model is the 1.4-litre four-cylinder that is fitted to the BlueGT. It packs 150hp and accelerates from 0-62mph in a hot-hatch-alarming 7.6 seconds. What is even more impressive is that, thanks to its cylinder-on-demand technology, it can achieve 58.9mpg and annual road tax will set you back just £20.

Volkswagen Polo diesel engines

The 1.4-litre diesel is available in two power outputs – 74hp or 89hp. No matter which version you go for expect a fuel economy of over 75mpg and free annual road tax. However, to justify the diesel engine’s higher asking prices, you’d need to do around 20,000 miles before the lower fuel consumption starts to pay off.

The 1.0 petrol unit is the basic engine in the Polo range, and the cheapest way into Polo ownership. It comes in two power outputs, 60 and 75 PS, and while neither is especially rapid (the 75 PS car still takes 14.3 seconds to reach 60 mph) both are usefully frugal.

The 60 PS car manages up to 60.1 mpg, and corresponding low CO2 emissions of 106 g/km means a measly VED bill of £20 a year (and free in year one). If you can stump the extra cash for the 75 PS car though you'll barely lose out - it's in the same tax band, and only drops a few MPG along the way.

Neither car has been reviewed by the experts just yet, but keep your eyes peeled as we'll have more details when the Polo hits the streets.

Volkswagen's 1.2-litre, turbocharged TSI petrol engine is an absolute gem, and could prove to be one of the stars of the updated Polo range.

There are no press reviews just yet, but in other VW products the engine is smooth, sounds good and returns decent economy. Officially it'll do 60.1 mpg, the same as the basic 1.0 - but also hits 60 mph in under 11 seconds and tops 114 mph. A dual-clutch auto is optional, but does at £1,375 to the Polo's purchase price.

Stay tuned for more information on the 1.2 TSI when the first testers get behind the wheel.

Volkswagen's three-cylinder, 1.4-litre TDI diesel has always been a popular choice, returning excellent economy without too much of a performance compromise.

That continues here - officially, the latest Polo TDI will do 83.1 mpg and not cost a penny in VED. At 12.9 seconds to 60 mph it's not overly fast, but these engines tend to work their best in the low- to mid-range, just where you need the power.

Keep checking back, as we'll have more details on the updated, cleaner TDI as soon as testers get behind the wheel.

VW's clever 1.4 TSI ACT engine appeared in the pre-revision Polo, and it's back again in the new car.

ACT is VW-speak for cylinder deactivation, meaning the four-pot unit can shut off a couple of cylinders when it's not under heavy load. As you'd imagine, this reduces fuel use, and while VW is yet to confirm official MPG, the quoted 109 g/km CO2 figure equates to 60.1 mpg - the same as the 1.2 TSI and 1.0 60 PS engines.

That's despite the 150 PS output, which should offer brisk performance - we'll find out more when reviewers finally get hold of the updated Polo.

These are general, non engine-specific reviews of the Volkswagen Polo. They give you a good idea of what the car is like without going into detail on one particular engine or trim level.

When crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2009, the Polo scored the maximum five stars. It’s worth noting that every year the safety criteria gets more stringent so take those five stars with a pinch of salt – newer cars are probably safer.

During that time, however, VW has added lots of safety features to the standard equipment of the Polo making it much safer than the 2009 car. Among them is Hill Hold Assist, which stops the car rolling back during a hill start and an Automatic Post-Collision braking system that stops the car rolling across the road after a collision.

VW has certainly loaded the Polo with kit. All Polos get a USB port, DAB radio, a height-adjustable driver seat, and – from S A/C trim and above – air-conditioning. Like most Volkswagens, there’s a good choice of optional extras you can add to your car. Our VW Polo options guide explains which are worth the cost and which aren’t.

Volkswagen Polo Match

Sitting above the basic S model, the Polo Match gets cruise control to take the strain out of long motorway journeys, front and rear parking sensors as well as fog lights with a cornering function to light up potential hazards in bends. Rear tinted windows offer a bit of privacy and the 15-inch alloy wheels add a bit of style. Extra tech is also added in the form of the larger infotainment systems with the 6.5-inch screen. Few would argue that you need more equipment in a small hatchback.

Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

The BlueMotion trim has one objective: providing you with the most fuel efficient version of the Polo. It does that by adding an aerodynamic bodykit, fuel-saving tyres, battery regeneration via the brakes and a Think Blue Trainer – a function of the infotainment system which provides economical driving tips and can analyse your journey. In terms of kit, the BlueMotion gets everything from the S model and adds extras such as a multifunction computer and a Start/Stop function.

Volkswagen Polo R-Line

The Polo R-Line gets sporty looks without the running costs of the GTI. You get a more aggressive body kit, bigger alloy wheels, a chrome exhaust pipe and tinted rear windows. Inside, the R-Line has a flat-bottomed steering wheel and more supportive seats with the R-Line logo embossed on the backrests.

Volkswagen Polo SEL

The SEL can be considered the luxury trim and adds things like LED headlights, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a front centre armrest, 16-inch alloy wheels and all round parking sensors.

Volkswagen Polo BlueGT

Only available with the state-of-the-art 1.4-litre petrol, the BlueGT looks like a toned-down Golf GTi. For style, you get a chrome exhaust, 17-inch alloy wheels and a different bodykit. In terms of safety, it has an electronically controlled front differential for extra grip out of corners, side airbags and a driver alert system, which senses fatigue and tells you when you need to take a break.

Volkswagen Polo Beats Edition

The Polo is generally bought by young people and VW knows what they want the most – a banging stereo for their tunes. For that reason, the latest special edition of the Polo comes with a seven-speaker, 300W sound system supplied by Beats Audio. To mark it out on the outside, the Polo Beats Edition gets silver mirror caps, 16-inch alloy wheels and decals in the signature red and grey Beats colours.

Volkswagen offers a three-year/60,000 mile warranty for the Polo. That’s pretty standard for the class, though the Kia Rio offers a class-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.


The VW Polo might not be the most engaging car to drive in its class, or the most practical, but its combination of talents wins over many. Quality is first rate, while the engine range is wide and it also rides like a car from the class above.

Get the Ford Fiesta for its driving thrills, the Seat Ibiza for its stylish looks or the Honda Jazz for its big boot, but as an objective choice the Polo is hard to beat.


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