What is the Volkswagen Polo Mk 5?
This is one of the best superminis money can buy. So if you are considering downsizing — like so many other drivers attempting to stave off the effects of ever-increasing fuel prices — give it a test drive.
The Polo is a small car that has all the quality and refinement you’d expect from larger, more expensive models, and on this aspect we rate it more highly than rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.
You can argue that with prices starting at £10,420 and going up to £19,950 for the top model, it wears a big price tag for what is still a little car. But you’ll get a cabin that’s as well built as a Passat’s, let alone a Golf’s, and enjoy the quiet and efficient way it gets on with covering miles. This is a very grown-up supermini.
The Polo isn’t the most fun car in the supermini class to drive. It can’t match the Fiesta for agility on a winding road or feel through the steering. But if you’re more interested in how refined and comfortable a car is, the VW wins hands down. Noise from outside is kept outside, the manual gearbox is easy to use and precise, whether in five or six-speed guise, and there’s a large range of usually lively and generally efficient engines.
It’s difficult to say which is best, as it will depend on your budget to a great extent. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is great round town but needs to be worked hard on the open road. The 1.4-litre petrol and 1.2-litre turbo petrol suit the car well. But the effortless pulling power of the 1.6 TDI probably makes it the pick of the bunch. And it will return 60mpg or more, which is, after all, the idea of a small car.
You’d never know this was a small car from the quality of the cabin. It feels a tad joyless, in the way recent Volkswagens do, and low-specification models can look a little spartan, but it nonetheless feels a high-class environment. And you can pay to have it include all sorts of big-car treats, such as sat nav and cruise control.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable enough to make long distances painless, and there’s plenty of room in the back for adults. About the only area in which the Polo conforms to supermini type is in the size of the boot, which isn’t really sufficient for a family of three, let alone four. Nonetheless, the Polo is more than capable of covering lots of miles and ensuring its occupants arrive as fresh as if they’d been travelling in a limo.
The one to buy
Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI SEL 5-door
Price: £16,640 (correct at first publication)
Engine: 1598cc, 4 cylinders
Power: 89bhp @ 4200rpm
Torque: 170 lb ft @ 1500rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 11.5sec
Top speed: 112mph
Fuel: 65.7mpg (combined)
Road tax band: C
Dimensions: L 3970mm, W 1682mm, H 1462mm