Sunday 22 April 2018

VW gets smart as the upgraded Polo comes laden with latest technology

The VW super-mini looks much the same on the outside, but inside it is a different story


Martin Brennan

THE Polo has been around for a long time. VW's super-mini has notched up 14 million sales worldwide, and it has been a popular model here with young drivers who go for its enduring secondhand quality, as well as female drivers and older couples trading down who like its tidy size and low cost maintenance.

'Never change a winning formula', goes the old adage, and VW designers agree as this updated offering has kept its conservative look – they just made the car a lot smarter with new and upgraded technology.

The refreshed version, which will go on sale here in July, has changes to the bumpers, grille and lights but the no-nonsense body lines remain. Inside, it is a different story. The cabin is more modern, and better materials and colours abound which add to the feeling of quality. The sturdy build is a given in Polo models over the years and good residual prices after a few years are always a safe bet here.

Most interesting is the amount of technology and safety equipment installed at prices that in most versions are only marginally above the outgoing offering. All models have engines that are compliant with EU6 European rules on emissions.

There are two one-litre 3-cylinder petrol engines on offer, a 60bhp unit and a more powerful 75bhp unit. The 75bhp will be the more popular here because of the extra power. It has a top speed of 173km/h and a 0-100km sprint of just over 14 seconds and the performance will be adequate to satisfy most owners.

There is also a 1.2 litre 4-cylinder petrol unit putting out 90bhp which is used in the Polo Cross, a taller crossover-type version of the Polo. For those who want high-revving performance, there is a 1.4-litre TSI 150bhp in the top-of-the-range Blue GT.

On the diesel side, there is a 1.4-litre unit, which boasts amazing fuel economy – 3.47L/100km and just 82g/km of C02 emissions. Diesel power is not very popular in the price-conscious super-mini segment because of the extra initial cost, and the best advice is to stick to the petrol engines unless you are a high-mileage driver, in which case a Golf would be the more correct choice of car.

Standard equipment includes stop/start, front assist with city brake assist, multifunction display, 5" colour touchscreen, and a new electronic speed-sensitive power steering. Move up to BlueMotion level, and alloy wheels, central driver's armrest, front fog lights are added; while the big seller here, the Comfortline, adds Bluetooth, air conditioning and electric windows.

VW has beefed up the technology as the Polo is up against strong competition from the high-selling Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and the ever-improving super-mini models from French makers Peugeot and Renault, which are now really well built. All manufacturers are adding extras to gain market share in a crowded segment as the competition hots up. All good news for bargain-hunting buyers.

Prices start at €14,995 for the three-door entry level Trendline 60bhp with the five-door version adding €400 extra. The big seller will be the one-litre 75bhp Comfortline five-door, which is priced at €18,210.

VW says 500 Polo models will be sold this year with up to 2,000 in a full year.

Sunday Independent

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