Car Review: New Volkswagen Polo

There’s nothing boring about the new Polo…

One of South Africa’s most popular passenger cars is back and this time, Volkswagen has given the new Polo an all-round redesign to give Polo fans a fun and fresh new offering.

The Volkswagen Polo has been South Africa’s second-best selling passenger car since its launch in 2010, with its sibling, the Polo Vivo taking first place. Having sold more than 14 million Polos to date, Volkswagen intends for the new Polo to make a big impression in the market. We attended the launch of the sixth generation Polo in Port Elizabeth to find out how Volkswagen hopes to maintain the Polo’s success story…

More room, more tech, more style

There’s nothing bland about the new Polo. It’s bigger and sportier looking (both inside and outside), with an increase in length and width, loads more boot space (increased from 280 to 350 litres), rear legroom, and a fresh and more masculine looking exterior. Comments on social media by the public noting that the new Polo “looks like a VW Golf” are rife, understandably so, since many of its new features are borrowed from its Golf sibling. Like the Golf, Touran, Tiguan, Passat and Arteon, the sixth generation Polo is now based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform, which gives it a number of advantages, like compact proportions and technical enhancements under the skin.

Loads of deep creases enhance the Polo’s sportier exterior while inside, a fun and trendy dashboard, exciting screen displays and refined design enhances the new Polo and brings it to a much more modern level of VW’s latest offering.

More to choose from

The new Polo is available in three trim levels: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline, as well as a special edition Polo Beats, which features a 300-watt sound system. An R-Line package is also available for those wanting an even more sportier exterior (side sills, boot spoiler, rear diffuser and more) while the performance focused Polo GTI is set to introduce itself to the SA market before the first half of the year ends.

We drove the Polo’s Comfortline trim with Polo Beats (founded in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine) and includes Composition Media Radio with USB interface for iPod/iPhone, Aux-in-jack, Bluetooth connectivity and App Connect as standard. On the outside, several Beats logos appear on side sills for example, while inside, Beats gives the Polo a striking and very trendy dashpad in ‘Velvet Red’. Funky touches carry throughout the cabin and include seat upholstery design in Aqua Graphite, Velvet Red and Ceramique. The Polo Beats’ interior will certainly impress friends on a night out and keep you feeling young, fun and very ‘with it’.

The new Polo comes in 10 exterior colours; Pure White, Flash Red, Dark Petrol, Reflex Silver Metallic,  Limestone Grey Metallic, Pale Copper, Reef Blue, Energetic Orange, Deep Black Pearl Effect and White Silver Metallic.

Interior colours and instrument panel decors are offered in Limestone Grey metallic, Deep Iron metallic, Velvet Red and Reef Blue.

Power and performance

Two engines are available with the new Polo, the smallest of which is the 1.0 TSI offering 70 kW of power and 175 N.m of torque from its three-cylinder turbocharged engine. It accelerates from 0-100 km in 10,8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 187 km/h, according to VW. The other 1.0 TSI engine offers 85 kW and will be launched with a 6-speed gearbox as standard and an optional 7-speed DSG, offering a maximum torque of 200 Nm.

Customers can choose between a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 7-speed DSG version. We drove the Polo’s manual gearbox and felt that although 70kw was enough power to kick up when overtaking slow moving vehicles, perhaps a sixth-gear could have made more difference on the open road. An acclaimed fuel consumption of 4.5 litres/100 km is noted for the manual, while the DSG version is at 4.7 litres/100 km.

New Driver Assist Equipment

The new Polo has a wide range of driver assistance features such as the latest Park Assist system for those tricky parallel and perpendicular parkings. Standard in the Highline is ‘Driving Profile Selection’ which allows you to choose between Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual, depending on your environment and preferences.

What about safety? The new Polo boasts a range of safety features, such as Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Traffic Alert, a proactive occupant protection system and a manoeuvre braking function.

Driving the new Polo

When it comes to what you can expect from the new Polo’s ride quality, it’s hard not to get your hopes up, especially once you’ve had a taste of its visually appealing exterior and interior. With a focus on its fun and sporty image, both inside and out, you’d hope that the same is true when you’re out on the road with it. The new Polo handles really nicely on the road and I loved how comfortable I was behind the wheel, even for a car in a ‘small car class’. The seats are comfy and supportive and the overall ergonomics of the cabin makes the new Polo a great hatch to road trip with. There’s great all-round visibility thanks to it’s large windscreens and windows, so there’s no need to crouch down or peer around corners for better view of the road ahead.

While it’s no sports car, the new Polo’s 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is as refined as it is punchy and as we drove the 70 kW version, I didn’t feel much need to drive the 85 kW engine. It’s a great package for day-to-day driving and gives you more than enough satisfaction for long-distance trips too.

Sibling rivalry

If you’ve been considering buying the Volkswagen Golf, you might want to try out what we think is its biggest ‘competitor’ is, the new Polo.


1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline                                    R 235 900

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline                                R 264 700

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG                       R 280 700

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline                                      R 286 200

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG                             R 302 200

The new Volkswagen Polo models come standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan,
3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service Interval is 15 000km.