First Drive: Volkswagen Polo
Sector: Supermini Price: £11,100-£19,715 Fuel: 57.6-83.1mpg CO2: 88-110g/km
The new Volkswagen Polo arrives in July, offering more efficient engines, higher levels of standard equipment and promising to be even safer than before.
But Volkswagen hasn't gone overboard in changing any of the exterior styling – a new set of LED headlights and front grille is basically the extent of it – as this is merely a mid-term revision rather than a radical facelift.
However, buyers of Volkswagen’s refreshed supermini can expect a range of engines which are all Euro 6 compliant and up to 23% more efficient. Also, and irrespective of trim level, all cars will be fitted with ESC, Hill Hold, and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System which brakes the vehicle after a collision to minimise the chance of a second impact. A Driver Alert System (standard on BlueGT) and Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and City Emergency Braking is a £500 option.
All models feature a touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and auxiliary and USB inputs. Navigation costs £700 from the SE upwards, while the £150 MirrorLink system enables the touch-screen to display exactly the same apps as on your smartphone. And, because of its proximity sensors, it reacts to the same swipe movements, too.
In spite of this all new techno-wizardry the rest of cabin remains unchanged. It’s still as functional as ever, if not a little staid, but, for the money, it is completely unrivalled.
The most salient changes are under the bonnet and to the economy. There are six petrol engines and two diesels to choose from. These include two 1.0-litre petrol engines, with either 59bhp or 74bhp respectively, plus two 1.2-litre petrols offered with either 89bhp or 108bhp, with the latter joining the range at the end of 2014.
The two diesels will be a pair of 1.4-litre units, with either 74bhp or 89bhp. The 1.2-litre Bluemotion model will no longer be offered in the UK, with the Bluemotion badge going on a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol due to join the range at the end of 2014. This is likely to average around 69mpg and emit 94g/km of CO2.
At the top of the petrol range, the BlueGT has had an uplift from 138bhp to 148bhp and retains its fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology. CO2 emissions have been brought down to 107g/km while fuel consumption has improved to 60.1 mpg. Priced from £17,710, the warm-hatch is available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmissions. A more powerful GTI version will be offered in 2015.
The 1.0-litre 59bhp five-door in SE trim is still expected to take the majority of the sales. But here’s a bit of consumer advice: spend the extra £525 and buy the higher output three-cylinder engine. It may only offer 15bhp more power but the difference it makes to the overall performance is remarkable.
Prices start at £11,100 for the three-door 1.0-litre S and continue to rise until they reach £19,715, for the 1.4 TSI ACT five-door.
Despite only subtle updates to the styling, new technology and a cut in running costs are enough to put the Polo among the best superminis on the market.