The fifth generation of Volkswagen’s evergreen supermini, the Polo, goes on sale here this week. It’s sharper, lighter, safer, and more cutting edge than ever before and is set to establish new standards in the small car class.
Not only does the new Polo weigh 7.5 per cent less than the vehicle it replaces – despite being marginally wider and longer – but it’s also stronger, promises greater refinement and efficiency, and features new packaging to make it the most versatile iteration yet.
Very important also in these times, the new Polo is much lighter on the pocket. With an entry level model at €14,590 it is about €2,000 lower than the equivalent previous model, with just air conditioning being the only significant item dropped from that spec.
The stylish Polo debuts a new look as well as highly efficient TSI and common rail TDI engines to set new benchmarks in efficiency – bettering even the high standards set by the outgoing car. In addition, advanced safety systems and an all-new construction allow it to meet the criteria for the recently introduced five-star EuroNCAP standard.
The new generation Polo establishes a distinctive new look for the car that draws on the design direction established by the Scirocco and the World Car of the Year 2009, the new Golf.
Clean, uncluttered lines mix with a thin, horizontal grille element framed by a set of sleek light units. The use of horizontal lines in the grille and lights allows the Polo to appear lower and wider than it really is. The simple design approach continues to the back of the car, which features a set of distinctive new rear lights and a wider track (1,464 mm front, 1,456 mm rear ) to underline the impression of solidity.
In length, the new Polo is 36 mm longer than the car it replaces. Its width, has also grown by 32 mm, yet the overall height has dropped by 13 mm, lending the car a more purposeful stance. These slightly larger dimensions and a longer wheelbase mean there’s greater space inside the new Polo. Head, shoulder and legroom have all increased, as has the load volume which now totals a minimum of 280 litres and a maximum of 952 litres.
Up front, elegant white backlit dials are set into a dashboard constructed out of high-quality, soft touch plastics. Volkswagen’s renowned attention to detail remains apparent in the new Polo with subtle aluminium highlights dotted around the interior and an easily accessed connection point for an MP3 player.
Continuing the programme of efficiency improvements established by Volkswagen, the new Polo is powered by a mix of advanced naturally aspirated 1.2- and 1.4-litre engines as well as a new turbocharged 1.2-litre TSI petrol unit joining another all-new 1.6-litre TDI common rail diesel engine. All are equipped with either five- or six-speed manual gearboxes as standard and, for the first time on the Polo, selected variants can be specified with Volkswagen’s advanced and lightweight seven-speed DSG gearbox.
A Polo BlueMotion model may also join the range next year. I say maybe because at the time of writing, it wasn't clear if Volkswagen Ireland would wait for an even more efficient 2010 second generation BlueMotion. Powered by a highly efficient 1.6-litre 90 PS TDI common rail diesel engine and linked to a five-speed gearbox with lengthened ratios in third, fourth and fifth, the new BlueMotion achieves 74 mpg while emitting just 96 g/km of C02.
The new Polo features a comprehensive roster of standard safety equipment including for the first time on all models four airbags, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP ) and ISOFIX anchor points all fitted as standard. These were tested to the maximum when new Polo has been subjected to the more stringent Euro NCAP crash tests and received the best possible score of five stars.
Volkswagen told us that it put together a safety package for the new fifth generation Polo including optimised body structure, a highly effective belt-and-airbag combination and driver-assist systems. The result it says has resulted is the safest compact car in the world.
The new Polo is larger and much more technically advanced than previous models, but it remains true to the brand’s core values of safety, reliability and quality. It has now added excellent value for money to that list. And despite the increase in size, the Polo is lighter than the model it replaces leading to improved fuel economy and emissions.
Volkswagen says that the new Polo is a statement of their refusal to compromise on excellence. And it's hard to argue with, but from this week, you can call in to your local Volkswagen dealer and check out the new Polo for yourself.