What am I looking at?
This is the recently-facelifted Volkswagen Polo, due in showrooms in July 2014.
As we discussed when the car was revealed back in January, this is a mere facelift for the current generation Polo rather than an all-new car, so for the most part it's business as usual. However, with range refreshes like this, we often see new trim hierarchy, new features and new pricing - and so it is here.
There's a familiar feel to the range as S, SEL and BlueGT trim levels are preserved, but new S A/C (like S, but with air-conditioning) and SE Design trims punctuate the old line-up.
Going in at ground level is the S trim. While not wholly free of trinkets - a 6 speaker audio system with 5.0" colour touchscreen, SD card reader, DAB radio and USB and aux-in connections is a nice standard touch - there's certainly a threadbare feel as Volkswagen lists highlights that include cup holders... The S A/C model adds, as you may expect, manual air conditioning.
Skipping up to SE swaps out the audio system and touchscreen for a new media system and larger 6.5" touchscreen, along with a glovebox-mounted CD player. 15" alloy wheels and leather-covered steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake lend a less basic feel, while electrically adjustable door mirrors, body coloured door handles and, on 5 door models, electric rear windows cover all the remaining bases.
SE Design specification focuses on styling, for those all-important first impressions. 16 inch alloys, front fog lights, tinted tail-lights and LED number plate illumination spruces up the outside, while a variety of grey cloth accents and aluminium pedals moves the inside a little more upmarket. The SEL trim is broadly similar but adds front and rear parking sensors to the mix.
Sitting at the top of the range for now is the BlueGT. This includes 17" alloy wheels, a bodykit unique to this model and 15 mm lower sport suspension. Sports seats trimmed in "BlueSpeed" cloth with alcantara bolsters and a black roof lining complete the interior, and drivers also benefit from an electronic differential lock for improved traction and handling along with cruise control and a driver alert system.
What powers it?
S and S A/C models will only be available with the entry level 1.0, three cylinder MPI petrol engine. With Just 59hp, this little unit only puthers out 106g/km CO2, putting it in VED band B and returning just over 60mpg.
SE and SE Design buyers may specify this engine in either the same state of tune or a 74hp version, which barely dents the fuel economy or carbon dioxide rating and remains in the same VED bracket - though it should shave a couple of seconds off the 0-60mph time. There's also an 89hp 1.2 TSI petrol returning largely identical economy figures and a new Euro 6 compliant 74hp 1.4 litre diesel that will see you getting a zero rate annual ticket at just 88g/km CO2.
SEL purchasers are limited to just two engines - an 89hp version of the 1.4 diesel with identical economy ratings to its less powerful twin, or a 108hp version of the 1.2 TSI petrol. Despite the extra power, this model too squeezes into VED band B while shaving a third off the 0-60mph time of the entry model.
But if it's performance you want then, for now, the BlueGT is the model of choice. With 148hp available from a 1.4 litre TSI petrol, there's no quicker Polo until a posited GTI turns up, yet with cylinder deactivation amongst its weaponry it returns no worse figures on the combined cycle than the basic 1.0 engine - 107g/km CO2 for the 7 speed DSG version.
How much will it cost me?
The basic Polo ownership experience will put you out 11,100 for a Polo S 1.0 3 door.
Adding the air conditioning to this for the S A/C grade will cost another 720, while moving up to the start of the SE line is a 615 step. SE Design will set you back another 1,100 on top of this. On both SE and SE Design levels, if you want to swap out the engine for the more sprightly 74hp version you'll need another 525, with the 89hp TSI petrol another 620 and the 1.4 diesel a further 1,065.
SEL models begin at 15,610 with the 1.2 TSI - 510 more for the 1.4 diesel - while the top spec Blue GT comes in at 17,710. DSG automatic gearboxes are only available on the TSI petrol cars - at a 1,375 premium - while all models can be specified as a 5 door for 630 over the three door. This pegs the Blue GT 5 door with DSG at 19,715. Check out deals here.
The range is already slated for expansion this year, with a petrol TSI BlueMotion and the sporty Polo GTI both on the cards.
The biggest name in the class is undoubtedly the Fiesta still, but they're going effectively toe-to-toe on pricing now and the allure of the VW badge might swing a few sales. By the same token, the Polo might lose out to the cachet of the rollercoaster MINI branding. Even the Up! has great deals.