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First drive: Volkswagen Polo

What is it?

THE latest Volkswagen Polo is built on a totally new architecture for the model — VW Group’s MQB A0 platform.

Although the basic VW DNA remains, the longer wheelbase means the Polo has a more brash stance than before.

New engines have also been added. A variety of 1.0-litre TSI engines are available, and for the first time in a Polo, a natural gas-powered engine is on offer.

Looks and image

The new Polo definitely looks like an evolution from its predecessors, although the new platform provides shorter front and rear overhangs, giving the car a more aggressive appearance.

Sadly, the overall styling doesn’t play to this quite as well as the Polo’s platform sibling, the Seat Ibiza. In less vibrant colours, there’s more of a lukewarm visual impression rather than understated or all-out flair.

The Beats edition we drove also comes with two decal stripes, one of which was body-coloured. These can be deselected, which would probably be the case were it our money being spent on the car.

Space and practicality

Thanks to the MQB A0 platform, the new Polo has become an even more spacious car.

Boot capacity is up 25 per cent, going from 280 litres to 351 litres, making an already practical car even more capable. It comes in slightly under the Seat Ibiza, though, which boasts 355 litres, but can pack notably more than the new Fiesta’s 292 litres.

Despite a larger boot, passenger space has not been compromised. The Polo was capable of comfortably fitting two adults up front while still carrying plenty of luggage in the rear footwells.

Thanks to this increased space and plenty of standard safety features across the range, such as city emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring and electronic stability control, the new Polo could be the perfect family runabout.

Behind the wheel

The Polo excels at its main purpose: city driving. Light steering, great visibility and a host of safety assists make cruising around urban areas a dream.

The 1.0-litre engine and manual gearbox seemed to take everything thrown at them, proving extremely versatile and requiring few gear changes.

The hatchback’s excellence, however, begins to unravel a little when driving for longer periods. It’s not a totally unpleasant experience spending more than an hour in the car, but the lack of support in the seats is soon noticed. The huge amount of passenger space makes sitting shotgun a pretty good experience, though.

A little more steering response at higher speeds would be ideal but for a car primarily built for urban driving, it was never going to be the most direct driving experience – at least not in lower trims. Hopefully (and presumably) the GTI will be a different story.

Value for money

Without knowing the price of the car, it’s hard to judge how much bang you’re getting for your buck. However, the Polo comes rather generously equipped, regardless of the chosen trim level.

The Beats version we tested came with 16-inch alloy wheels, a partial leather interior, a full colour infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, rear tinted windows, body decal strips (if that’s your thing) and the main attraction of the Beats version, a 300-watt sound system.

A downside, though, is the lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay available through the infotainment — both of which are present in the Polo’s VW Group stablemate, the Seat Ibiza. The base system did work rather well, however, despite a few niggly Bluetooth connection problems.

Verdict

The new Volkswagen Polo is sensational for a little urban runabout, the job it’s mainly designed to do. It’s certainly capable of longer distances, although it could grow tiresome for anything more than a couple of hours.

You get the premium feel for which Volkswagens of late have become renowned, although without knowing the price, it’s hard to compare it with its rivals’ pound for pound just yet.

VW will no doubt sell many when the new Polo does land in the UK, and deservedly so, but can it challenge the Fiesta for the supermini crown? Time will tell…

Facts at a glance

Model: Volkswagen Polo Beats
Base price: TBA
Engine tested: 1.0 TSI
Power: 94bhp
Torque: 175Nm
Max speed: 116mph
0-60mph: 10.6 seconds
MPG: 60.1
Emissions: 106 g/km