Spotlight: Volkswagen Polo
Launching late this year, the sixth-generation Polo could make drivers question the need to move up to a Golf. By Alex Grant.
The not-so-mini supermini
Underpinned by a completely new platform, which is shared with the latest SEAT Ibiza, the Polo becomes one of the biggest cars in its class. It’s wider and over a longer wheelbase than the Mk4 Golf launched in 1997, measuring just over four metres from bumper to bumper, and the new range will only be offered as a five-door hatchback.
The result is a predictable improvement in interior space; more headroom in the front and back than the Mk4 Golf, let alone the old Polo, while the boot capacity has grown by 25% between generations. Drivers looking for even more space can move up to the forthcoming T-Roc crossover, which will be positioned between the Polo and Golf, which means there’s no need to offer an estate bodystyle.
New technology is a given; autonomous emergency braking and at least a 6.5-inch glass-fronted touchscreen are included across the range, while the Polo will also be offered with a new-generation digital instrument cluster similar to Audi’s virtual cockpit, as well as wireless smartphone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
A nod to equipment featured on larger models, optional assistance features include a more advanced Park Assist hands-free parking and adaptive cruise control which can bring the car to a complete stop in heavy traffic.
Versions to suit all needs
Volkswagen has so far only revealed the German product range, but it’s a hint of what we can expect in the UK. From launch, this will include the sporty-looking R-Line and a high-performance GTI, as well as the Beats version, with upgraded audio, mirroring a trim level which was introduced towards the end of the outgoing car’s life. Expect a price rise over entry-level versions of the old car, in part owing to the lack of a three-door version but also due to the higher equipment levels.
There’s a new selection of engines, too; two versions of the 1.0-litre petrol with 65 or 75bhp, the turbocharged TSI version of the same engine with 94 or 113bhp, the new 1.5-litre TSI EVO with 148bhp and the ability to run on two cylinders at low loads, and the GTI’s 197bhp 2.0-litre engine. Two 1.6-litre diesel versions, both with Selective Catalytic Reduction, will be available, producing 80bhp or 90bhp. All engines above 80bhp will also be offered with DSG.
What we think…
Early drives of the new SEAT Ibiza bode well for its Volkswagen cousin, with class-above ride, handling and technology likely to make upsizing to the Golf less necessary. But, with an all-new Ford Fiesta about to arrive in the UK, the Polo faces some very stiff competition from its long-running rival.