Volkswagen sharpened its pencils with the latest Volkswagen Polo and now - priced at $16,690 - the entry level Polo Trendline model takes on all-comers in the tough compact car segment.
That’s good news for consumers as the Volkswagen Polo joins the excellent Ford Fiesta in offering genuine German quality for a competitive budget price.
Volkswagen Polo Overview
Car Showroom tested the entry-level Volkswagen Polo ‘Trendline’ three-door manual – Polo’s $16,690 price leader. As well as fellow Europeans in the Ford Fiesta (also from Germany, starting at $16,090) and Nissan’s British-sourced Micra ($15,990), the new Volkswagen Polo also contends with segment stars like the Toyota Yaris YR ($15,690) and Mazda2 (($16,500), while the Korean-sourced segment top-sellers like the Hyundai Getz, i20 and Holden Barina are a few dollars less.
No duds in that price-competitive lineup and by abandoning its previous price premium for the Polo, Volkswagen has given small car customers even more choice. Only a handful of years ago a sub-$20K German car would have been unheard of in Australia.
And don’t for one second think the Volkswagen Polo Trendline short changes in the equipment stakes – it might be priced under $17K but you still get semi-automatic air-conditioning and lots of safety gear including six airbags, hill-start assist, traction/stability control and ABS anti-lock brakes.
Volkswagen Polo Engine
Volkswagen Polo Trendline is powered by Volkswagen’s naturally-aspirated
1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine delivering 63kW at 5,000 rpm and 132Nm at 3,800 rpm. Ford’s Fiesta provides 88kW/152Nm from its 1.6-litre engine while the Mazda2 is good for 76kW/137Nm from its 1.5-litre engine.
Volkswagen Polo’s 1.4-litre unit is EU5-compliant and returns fuel economy (combined cycle) of 6.1l/100kms for the five-speed manual model we tested. Exhaust C02 emissions are rated at 142g/km.
With zero a zero to 100km/h time of 12.1 seconds, the Volkswagen Polo Trendline is no match for the sporty Volkswagen Golf R (5.9 seconds), but the high-performance Golf costs $48,490 and returns fuel consumption of 8.7l/100kms. By smart use of the five-speed manual transmission (Volkswagen’s 7-speed DSG is the optional automatic) we found the Volkswagen Polo Trendline performed well in our week of city and country driving…and – importantly for budget-conscious compact car buyers - the fuel gauge moved at a glacial pace.
Volkswagen Polo Interior
Volkswagen Polo Trendline’s price might be sub-$17K but inside is the hallmark quality Volkswagen trim, seat cloth and instrumentation.
With height adjustment for the drivers’ seat and a three-spoke steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach, the usual top-shelf Volkswagen driving position is achievable in the Polo Trendline. Instrumentation is almost identical to the Golf - the usual slick Volkswagen design with two conventional gauges (white back-lighting) separated by the bar-graph fuel gauge.
Audio (MP3-compatible six-speaker CD system with auxiliary input socket and optional Bluetooth) is on the center console with the climate control system.
Volkswagen says the latest Volkswagen Polo delivers extra rear seat space but – like all three-doors in the segment – it’s squeezy with five adults on board. The rear seat in the Volkswagen Polo Trendline split-folds 60/40 and luggage capacity is 261 litres with the seat in place or 952 litres with the seat folded.
Volkswagen Polo Exterior & Styling
Walter de Silva (Volkswagen’s Head of Group Design) led the team responsible for the looks of the latest Volkswagen Polo – like the current Golf, it highlights the company’s new styling ‘DNA’. And while it is the brand’s compact car price leader in Australia, the design objective was the deliver an overall look comparable with more expensive Volkswagens.
This is evident in the new Volkswagen Polo’s front end. While the Volkswagen Polo Trendline model we tested misses out on the twin headlights of its more expensive siblings, the clear lens single lights, modern grille and under-bumper fog-lights do provide an upmarket, contemporary European look.
From the side, the two-door Volkswagen Polo Trendline has two large side windows (the five door is a three-window design) with the rear window upwards–sloping to give the rear three-quarter a substantial appearance. Short front and rear overhangs contribute to Volkswagen Polo’s compact overall length of 4064mm (same for Polo three-door and four-door).
Large modern taillights and the sporty tailgate spoiler highlight the simple rear view.
Trendline models run 14-inch steel wheels.
Volkswagen Polo On The Road
Typically Volkswagen, our Volkswagen Polo Trendline exuded remarkable refinement for a compact car and its excellent fit and finish meant there were no squeaks or rattles.
In city traffic, Volkswagen Polo’s light-shifting five-speed transmission wasn’t a chore and despite the 10.6-metre turning circle, tight car park maneuvers were equally easy. Both in town and out on our mountain roads test loop, Volkswagen Polo did require frequent gear changes to get the most out of the 1.4-litre powerplant.
Over the twists and curves, Volkswagen Polo delivered the hallmark Volkswagen taut and firm ride which sporty drivers appreciate. Volkswagen Polo runs Volkswagen’s independent MacPherson strut front end and torsion beam rear – that delivers precise turn-in and stable, mid-corner balance with the predictable front-wheel-drive understeer at the limit.
Wet conditions in the mountains saw the Volkswagen Polo traction control getting some work but its cut-in was expected.
Volkswagen Polo Challenges
Volkswagen Polo’s plastic steering wheel is at odds with rest of the quality interior.
Volkswagen Polo Verdict
Two high quality Germans (Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta) slugging it out with Asian brands for compact car sales – who would have thought? Times have changed and compact car consumers can now comfortably place the new Volkswagen Polo on their shopping lists.
Volkswagen’s phenomenal global sales growth is the result of having great products competitively priced – the new Volkswagen Polo is a big part of that story.
Volkswagen Polo Competition
Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Nissan Micra and Hyundai i20 – the Volkswagen Polo squares off against a ‘Melbourne Cup’ field of excellent credentials. By any measure the Volkswagen Polo is amongst the segments very best.
Volkswagen Polo Likes:
German quality at a great price
Volkswagen Polo Dislikes:
Needs a more up-market steering wheel; a tad short of some rivals for engine performance