Under the skin

Road test: New 2014 Polo range

The Polo has had a facelift and thoroughly revised line-up of EU6 compliant engines so time to take another look at Volkswagen’s perennial. Just shy of 40 years ago, in 1975 the first Polo rolled off the production line. Since then, it has been the reliable middle class second car, many a first car as chosen by parents and sensible all-round runabout.

We talk about face lift but it is hard to spot any external changes at all. Apparently the bumpers and lights have been tweaked but we’re really struggling to see where. The revised engine range is the key: efficient and punchy petrol engines and clever, small diesels uphold what is still the benchmark car in its class for perceived build quality. A first for the Polo will be the DSG dual-clutch automatic (although currently there are none in the UK with VW concentrating on the popular models for the first production run). There are also tweaks to the trim, an improved infotainment system, Hill Hold and an automatic post collision braking feature across the range.


Having driven all the engine sizes, most power outputs and various trim levels back-to-back, it has been interesting to see how the different units transform the Polo. Starting with the lowest output (60PS) one-litre petrol engine, performance can best be described as adequate. It must be worked hard on any inclines and is rather pedestrian. The advantage of course is low insurance but the Polo is a bit heavy for it; this clever little engine is much better suited to the fabulous up!. The 1.2 petrol engines are fine, the extra displacement adding to the torque needed for the sizeable Polo (longer, considerably wider and up to a third heavier again than the original Golf).

The pick of the crop? That’ll be the diesel 1.4. The 90 PS is agile and capable but oddly, the 75 PS feels smoother and is certainly well up to the job. There are no gaps; it is equally happy pottering round or stretching its legs on the motorway.


What else is new? On all but the basic models, there’s a 6.5-inch display with MirrorLink, which allows certain Android and iOS smartphone apps to be controlled via the screen. Even the basic model comes with a 5-inch display, DAB radio and six speakers.

So, there is little to report in terms of visible change yet a great deal to enjoy with the latest Polo. The breadth of capable engines, upgraded infotainment system and exacting build standards for which the Polo has become so popular are right at the top of the game.

Our pick: Volkswagen Polo SE DESIGN 1.4 TDI (75PS) from £15,745.

Power: 75 PS (@ 3,000-3,750 rpm), torque: 210 Nm (@ 1,500-2,000 rpm), emissions: 88 g/km CO2 (band A), 0-62 mph: 12.9 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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