Volkswagen Polo review – Sophisticated the humble supermini

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The Volkswagen Polo is a small car that’s comfortable to drive and has a spacious, plush cabin, but it’s far from exciting to drive. Let’s find out the detail in the Volkswagen Polo review with Autosmartsz!

Bigger than ever

Volkswagen’s Polo Mk6 dwarfs its predecessor. This car is not only bigger than the Mk5 in every dimension that counts, it actually exceeds the size of the fourth-generation Volkswagen Golf in all but length. Most crucial of all is the increase in its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles); pushing the wheels 92mm further apart plays a big role in making passengers more comfortable – creating more room and improving ride quality. The latest Polo is also 69mm wider than the car it replaces.

There are grown-up improvements in other areas, too. While the colourful interior options will increase the Polo’s youth appeal, giving the cabin a more playful feel, much of the technology available has filtered down from larger vehicles such as the current Golf and Passat.

Volkswagen Polo review
Volkswagen Polo review

VW’s bosses see all this as ‘overcoming traditional class boundaries’ – meaning you get a lot more of a large car experience in this Polo. We say it gives you a great deal of car for the money. The Ford Fiesta is excellent in many areas, but with the Polo Volkswagen has clearly set out to surprise and delight customers with what’s possible from a car of this size.
For example, this generation of Polo was the debut car for VW’s second-generation Active Info Display – the optional interactive digital gauge cluster that replaces the conventional instrument dials.

Other key features include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection as standard, a central touchscreen display (depending on model), and extensive connectivity – from smartphone features to specially developed apps

High-tech with solid ergonomics

But this is more than just a style thing. VW has consciously moved the media system onto the same level as the instrument cluster – so the driver doesn’t have to look so far away from the road to view it. This could have been done relatively easily by fitting a standalone, tablet-mimicking screen, as most rivals have done. Instead VW has chosen to fully integrate the touchscreen into the dashboard to give the finished product a far more cohesive and intentionally future-gazing look.

UK models also get the full 8.0-inch device as standard rather than the smaller 6.5-inch version offered in some markets. Also available as an option on the Mk6 Polo is VW’s second-generation Active Info Display – a fully digital instrument cluster that replaces the conventional dials.

Volkswagen Polo review - High-tech
Volkswagen Polo review – High-tech


Well, in terms of performance, surely not. If anything, this new 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged motor makes more power than the 1.2 it replaces. In the recently concluded autoX ‘s ‘Best of 2020’ mega test, the Polo TSI was among the top-10 fastest cars around the short loop of the Buddh International Circuit. The one that we had for that test, however, was a manual version. In comparison, this GT TSI doesn’t feel as quick to get off the line. In the manual, you can really keep the tacho needle pinned around the 4,000rpm mark and dump the clutch to get a quick start –  something that you can’t do in the GT TSI with the automatic transmission. That being said, the GT TSI isn’t a slow-poke by any means. Despite the down-sized motor, it continues to be fast and entertaining – just what you’d expect from a GT TSI.

Volkswagen Polo review - Engine
Volkswagen Polo review – Engine

Volkswagen has replaced the old DSG with a 6-speed torque converter. We have experienced this transmission previously in the Vento and the Rapid. In the Polo too, it carried the same traits. When left in the D mode, the torque converter shifts rather seamlessly and, in that regard, is very close to the old DSG. In fact, it responds to inputs quite well and doesn’t hang back before downshifting either. It is only when you switch to the S mode that the downsides of the torque converter become evident. While it does hold the revs and give you a more exciting drive experience, the downshifts are quite jerky, which can get a bit annoying. In the M mode, upshifts could have been a bit quicker too.

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