Volkswagen Polo Review & Prices

The Volkswagen Polo might be one of the classier, comfier and more refined small family cars around, but it’s far from being the most fun to drive

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RRP £20,975 - £26,975 Avg. Carwow saving £1,475 off RRP
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Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Slick cabin feels posh
  • Very comfortable on the road
  • Plenty of boot space

What's not so good

  • Not as fun as some alternatives
  • Entry-level petrol engine lacks punch
  • Useful options can be expensive

Find out more about the Volkswagen Polo

Is the Volkswagen Polo a good car?

Think of the Volkswagen Polo like you would your favourite pair of black jeans. It’s an affordable small car that looks smart and is comfortable in everyday use, and because it’s got a Volkswagen badge on its nose it also comes with an added bit of posh desirability. But just like that trusty pair of Levis, it’s hardly the most exciting thing you could be seen in.

Not that you should let that put you off considering a new Polo over a Peugeot 208, a Renault Clio or a Seat Ibiza. We think it’s one of the best small cars you can currently buy, and its sensibleness is a key part of its appeal.

Volkswagen has tweaked the design of the latest Polo, with a new LED strip on the front, new front and rear bumpers, and a few added creases here and there to sharpen it’s look. So although it’s not the most stylish hatchback, the new Polo does look rather suave.

Open the door and you’ll find the little Volkswagen offers the feel of a bigger hatchback. For a car of its size, the Polo is not only surprisingly spacious, it’s comfortable and decently plush too. Soft-touch plastics are the order of the day here, and there are a couple of colourful trim finishers available optionally to help liven the place up too. Sure there are a few hard, scratchy surfaces in the lower reaches, but that’s to be expected at this price point.

The Volkswagen Polo might not be the most exciting small car around, but it’d certainly be the easiest to live with - particularly with the 95hp engine

Getting settled in behind the wheel is a doddle thanks to great adjustability in both the seat base and the steering column. Any back seat passengers you might want to bring along with you won’t come up short on space either, as both head and legroom are generous enough for two adults to get comfy. And because it’s only available as a five-door, getting in and out of those rear seats is very easy. Boot space is decent too, and much bigger than a Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 208

A good thing about the Polo is you get some impressive kit as standard. All models get a digital instrument display instead of old fashioned analogue dials, and an infotainment touchscreen. Cruise control, LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and plug-in Android Auto are all thrown into the entry level model. 

To keep with the times and bring down emissions, Volkswagen has ditched diesel engines for the Polo. Apart from the GTi, the Polo only comes with a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol, with a turbocharged option for a bit more oomph. 

So the Volkswagen Polo might not be the most exciting small car around, but it’s certainly comfortable, well-built, economical and impressively spacious. Just like your favourite pair of black jeans, it’s very unlikely you’ll regret buying one.

Looking to make a Volkswagen Polo your next car? Check out the latest deals available on it and other new Volkswagen models through carwow to see how much you could save, or browse the latest used stock from a network of trusted dealers. Need to sell your car first? You can do that through carwow too.

How much is the Volkswagen Polo?

The Volkswagen Polo has a RRP range of £20,975 to £26,975. However, with Carwow you can save on average £1,475. Prices start at £19,684 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £213. The price of a used Volkswagen Polo on Carwow starts at £9,800.

Our most popular versions of the Volkswagen Polo are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.0 Life 5dr £19,684 Compare offers

The Volkswagen Polo is slightly more expensive than its Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia relatives and more similar in price to a Renault Clio. That being said, with its soft touch plastics and leather trims, it definitely feels more premium than the Ibiza and Fabia. Although you get some great features as standard, you can only get the Ascot Grey paint, so you’ll have to pay more for other colours. Unless you go for the GTi, the Polo comes with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol, so it's economical on fuel, and reasonable to insure and tax.

Performance and drive comfort

The Volkswagen Polo is a breeze to drive around town and reasonably quiet on the motorway but you couldn’t call it exciting and its entry-level petrol engine is weedy

Although you used to be able to get the Polo with a range of petrol and diesel engines, the diesels have now been dropped. So you’ve got a choice of 1.0-litre three-cylinder motors, of which our pick is the higher-powered, turbocharged 95hp unit. It’s punchier than the lethargic, non-turbo 80hp engine, but is still reasonably economical. It’s fairly quiet around town and feels much less strained at motorway speeds.

There aren’t many small cars out there that are comfier on the road than the Polo. It won’t jostle you over lumps and bumps and it’s quiet and surprisingly relaxing on the motorway. It’s accurate, lightweight steering makes it easy to drive around town too – but don’t expect it to feel as fun-loving as a Ford Fiesta on a twisty road.

In town

The Volkswagen Polo is easy to drive around town thanks to its light steering and good visibility. The relatively slim pillars don’t block your view out at junctions and its large rear windscreen helps make parking a doddle, too.

Even in models with larger alloy wheels you won’t be shaken too much by monster potholes and it doesn’t lean excessively in tight corners either. The seven-speed automatic gearbox can be a little jerky at lower speeds so isn’t ideal for parking. Speaking of which, there are plenty of driver assistance options, including parking assist. So even if you’re prone to parallel parking anxiety, you’ll soon find it a breeze.

On the motorway

At motorway speeds, the Polo does a good job of muting both wind and tyre noise and it feels impressively stable for a small car. The mid and top-range engines have good punch so are good for overtaking on the motorway, although you’ll struggle with the entry level non-turbo petrol. 

The five-speed manual gearbox is rather frustrating on the motorway as it could definitely do with an extra gear. Unfortunately a six-speed manual is no longer available. All models include cruise control though, and you can even upgrade to adaptive cruise control for easier motorway miles.

On a twisty road

It may not be as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta, but the Polo’s stable nature does mean you’ll feel confident on twisty roads. Sports suspension is available as an option, but it’s rather unnecessary and you might as well go for the Polo GTi.

The standard Polo definitely doesn’t feel sporty. However, there is a fair amount of feedback through the wheel, and the brake pedal is not too sensitive. The manual gearbox is precise and feels solid, it’s just a shame that the six-speed manual is no longer available. Overall though, the Polo definitely feels competent and easy to drive.

Space and practicality

It might look small on the outside, but the Volkswagen Polo is impressively roomy on the inside. The boot’s very spacious too, but you’ll still have to remove a bike’s front wheel before it’ll fit

The latest Volkswagen Polo is much more spacious inside than the old model. It’s so spacious in fact that it runs the larger VW Golf very close in terms of outright roominess.

There’s loads of space in the front and plenty of adjustment to help you get comfy, even if you’re tall. All the controls are within easy reach and it’s dead easy to tweak the steering wheel position to give you a good view of the digital instrument display. Things are just as roomy in the back seats.

Space in the back seats

There’s almost as much leg and headroom as in a Golf and far more space than you’ll find in a Vauxhall Corsa or even the Skoda Fabia. Your taller passengers will have no trouble getting comfy and there’s enough space under the seats in front for them to tuck their feet under, too.

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the best small family cars for carrying three abreast. It’s still a little cosy with three adults on board but the central seat’s reasonably wide and there’s only a small lump in the floor to get in the way of your middle passenger’s feet.

The Volkswagen Polo comes with five doors as standard so you won’t have to jump out to let your friends climb in the back and it’s a breeze to fit a child seat using the standard Isofix anchor points. These anchors are clearly marked but you’ll have to be careful not to lose their removable plastic covers.

Boot Space

Luggage space is very competitive too. At 351 litres, the Polo’s boot is larger than the one you’ll get in a Ford Fiesta (up to 303 litres), a Mini 5-Door Hatch (278 litres) and a Peugeot 208 (311 litres).

The Volkswagen Polo’s 351-litre boot is a massive 71 litres larger than the old car’s and has 21 litres more space than the practical Skoda Fabia. The Polo has a slight boot lip which can get in the way when you’re loading heavy items but its square shape makes it easy to pack full of large boxes.

With the rear seats up there’s enough room to carry a baby buggy or two suitcases and there’s a selection of handy tether points and hooks to keep smaller items secure.

You can flip the back seats down using the latches beside the headrests without having to worry about lifting the seat bases up first – unlike in the old Volkswagen Polo. All models get a two-way (60:40) split seat, so you can carry as many as two passengers and some long luggage in the boot at once.

With the rear seats folded, the Volkswagen Polo has an almost flat load bay – there’s no annoying step in the floor like in a Corsa. This makes it easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats. There’s enough space to carry a bike too, but you’ll have to remove one of its wheels first.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The Volkswagen Polo has a smart, upmarket cabin and feels impressively well built for such a small car. Unfortunately, plenty of desirable features aren’t standard

The Volkswagen Polo interior is a huge step up from the old car’s rather drab affair. Almost every surface you’ll regularly touch (and plenty you won’t) comes with a soft squidgy finish and all the controls feel just as solid as the larger (and more expensive) Golf.

Every Volkswagen Polo comes with a touchscreen infotainment display nestled neatly in a glossy black bezel on the dashboard. They’re bright and easy to read but don't have any physical shortcut buttons so it’s a little tricky to switch between key features on the move.

All models get a digital driver’s display with a high-resolution screen behind the steering wheel – just like in the Golf. It can display a range of info, from your mpg to a huge sat-nav map, and looks very nearly as good as the Virtual Cockpit available in expensive Audis. The entry level gets an 8.0-inch screen but you can also get a 10.0-inch screen on higher models.

As far as gadgets are concerned, the Volkswagen Polo has your bases covered. Even the entry-level Life model gets a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system right out of the box. They all use a slightly older operating system than what you get in the latest Volkswagens, but it’s still sharp, responsive and easy to use. In fact, we think it’s a bit more intuitive than the newer system you’ll find in the Golf.

It’s much more user friendly than the system in a Renault Clio, but it would benefit from a set of physical buttons (like the ones in a Skoda Fabia) rather than the fiddly touch sensitive ones to help you skip between key features without taking your eyes off the road. The entry-level Life model at least gets physical dial for the climate control.

Its menus are sensibly laid out but its glossy screen shows up every last greasy finger mark. Similarly, the glossy plastic bezel around the screen looks nice but scratches easily – not ideal for something you’ll poke and prod regularly.

You get satellite navigation in every model and it has easy-to-follow directions and crisp, clear maps. If you’re not a fan, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring features are standard across the range. These let you use a variety of your phone’s apps (including navigation and music streaming) through the car’s built-in display.

MPG, emissions and tax

Although it’s not as efficient as a diesel, the three-cylinder 1-litre petrol is fairly economical, and a lot better for the environment. Overall, the mid-range 95hp engine is more efficient than the entry level 80hp engine, but if you mainly drive around town the 80hp engine is definitely the better option.

The seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox is slightly less economical than the manual gearbox – again it's a bit of shame that a six-speed manual is no longer available as this would be even more efficient on the motorway. The Renault Clio offers a six-speed manual with a 1.0-litre petrol engine, and is more economical to run.

If you go for the sporty Polo GTi, the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is a lot thirstier and more polluting, as to be expected really. You’ll need to pay a fair bit more for road tax, insurance and running costs, so budget that in if you’re considering it.

The Polo is a fairly clean car to drive and costs as much to tax as the Skoda Fabia and a Renault Clio. If you don’t want to pay any road tax, check out our deals on small electric cars.

Safety & security

The Polo is one of the safest cars you can buy and gets a full five-star Euro NCAP rating. It offers great protection in the front seats, but like most cars, is slightly worse in the back. Similarly the Polo scores less well for pedestrian safety, but still does better than most. 

As an option you can get an internal dashcam system that records and captures footage as you drive. It’s a reassuring system to have, although it is a rather expensive option compared to a conventional dashcam. The all-round system however can record all round the car, and connects to your phone so you can be alerted of any dubious activity. Hopefully you’d never need to use it, but again it’s a reassuring option you might want.

Reliability and problems

Typically, the Volkswagen Polo is a reliable car, however there have been some recalls in the past because of faulty seat belt fittings, handbrake levers and towing kits. All in all though, the Polo is well built and is one of the leading hatchbacks for reliability. Servicing the Polo is fairly straightforward, although the LED Headlights that come as standard will cost more to replace than conventional bulbs.

Volkswagen offers a three-year warranty or up to 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you think you’ll go over the mileage, you can always buy an extended warranty for peace of mind. Whilst the Polo is a great car, it’s warranty can be a little discouraging compared to its rivals. The Kia Rio for example covers up to 100,000 miles or seven years, and the Renault Clio, 100,000 miles and five years.

Buy or lease the Volkswagen Polo at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £20,975 - £26,975 Avg. Carwow saving £1,475 off RRP
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