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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -1°C
Paddy McGrath
# Review
Review: Volkswagen's new Polo is a worthy rival for the mighty Golf
The Polo has played the role of understudy for decades, but that’s about to change.

SINCE ITS FIRST introduction in 1975, the Volkswagen Polo has had to play the role of understudy to the Golf.

Sure, it’s always been known as a solid and robust car, a safe bet as it were. But the Polo has never been been viewed as competition to its older and more stylish sister… until now.

After five previous generations, the Volkswagen Polo, like many ‘small cars’, has grown in size. For reference, the little Polo is now the same size as the Mk3 Golf.

There’s much more to the new Polo than just scale though. On looks alone, the car is a crowd-pleaser.

The lack of bold or divisive design might be viewed as a negative by some, but on the commercial end, it gives the Polo a seemingly classless appeal – something that Volkswagen does very well.

Paddy McGrath Paddy McGrath

While the exterior might lack pizazz, the interior has plenty to please design-conscious buyers.

The mid-level Comfortline specification of my test car brings a good balance of equipment and quality of finish. In comparison to what cars in this segment featured only a few years ago, you can see the jump Volkswagen has made with the new Polo.

Standard specification includes an eight-inch touchscreen display, plus full smartphone connectivity with Bluetooth and two USB ports in the centre console.

Paddy McGrath Paddy McGrath

The redesigned cabin looks and feels more spacious while retaining plenty of useful storage areas throughout. Up front, the seats have a good amount of adjustability and support, remaining comfortable even after a few hours of driving.

As for the mechanical side of things, our test car was powered by the entry-level engine. This three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine is never going to win any traffic light Grand Prix, with its sprint to 100km/h taking a lengthy 15.5 seconds – but leaving aside the numbers on paper, it isn’t a bad engine.

Paddy McGrath Paddy McGrath

Yes, for overtaking on the motorway or hustling around urban roads with speed, you do need to work the five-speed manual transmission a bit more vigorously. But in everyday driving conditions, the Volkswagen makes steady progress with minimal fuss.

There’s a light yet direct feel to the steering and – thanks to the optional Park Distance Control – getting it into a tighter parking space isn’t tricky.

Perhaps the most positive attribute of the new Polo is its overall refinement when driving. Noise levels from the road and engine are well suppressed, while the suspension efficiently deals with whatever surfaces get thrown at it.

As a complete package, the Polo is finally a stand-alone car in its own right, rather than playing second fiddle to the Golf and the rest of the larger C-segment.

Paddy McGrath Paddy McGrath

With 349 litres of boot space, it isn’t far behind cars in the segment above either.

Against its immediate rivals, the Polo is still an expensive proposition, starting at €16,795 for the Trendline trim and €18,695 for the Comfortline.

The SEAT Ibiza gives it a close run and comes in at a lower price. Even the newer Fiesta does make for a more fun driving experience, while it may not win on interior features.

If you’re looking for a car that feels well-built with good equipment available, and you aren’t too limited by budget, then the Polo is definitely one to consider.

READ: Six sunset drives to take this Summer >

READ: Review: BMW’s new X3 is a family SUV that’s stylish inside and out >

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