Who hasn't seen VW's latest ad campaign for the Golf 'Just like a Golf', well Volkswagen have now taken the campaign one step further, by releasing the new Polo, which looks…..just like a Golf.
So much bigger that the outgoing Polo, and so similar to the Golf on the outside is the new Polo, that from a quick glance, you'd be hard pushed to tell it apart from its now marginally bigger brother the Golf. It is a great looking car, but then the Golf is, so the Polo was bound to be. The styling, by Walter de Silva (Head of Design, Volkswagen Group), is a master stroke, its current, beefy; it's neither masculine nor feminine and will lend nicely to sports versions without looking like VW have stuck an ironing board on the roof. More importantly everybody loves the Golf, so now they'll all be able to love the Polo just as much! To say the Polo looks twice the size it used to, would be an understatement, from the outside this latest generation Polo looks huge. It is bigger than ever before, its 56mm longer and 32mm wider than the outgoing model, it's like it's been living in the gym and eating steroids for breakfast. However its not only got bigger its also got sleeker, VW have lowered the body height by 13mm, we all know what happens when you make something longer, wider and lower, it looks sportier, very nice touch VW. So is the Polo even a small hatch anymore? Not really, it's more a slightly smaller and slightly cheaper way of buying the Golf, and trust me, that's no bad thing!
So it's bigger than before on the outside, how about inside…. head, leg and shoulder room have all be massively increased, it has bucket loads more room that its predecessor, but its not as cavernous as you'd expect. The boot space is also huge in comparison to the outgoing model, 952L of it with the rear seats folded down! I do have one small gripe though, the drivers seating position was overly high in the model I tested, even after I'd lowered it as far as it would go, I felt like I was looking over the car rather than being inside and part of the car. The build quality and quality of materials inside is both, as always with Volkswagen, outstanding and faultless. There's now plenty of ways of kitting up the inside of your Polo, from integrated touch screen sat nav, Dynaudio (VW's premium kick-arse sound system) to iPod connectivity and dual zone climate control, the Polo may have grown up, but its still a trendy little motor. Front and rear legroom isn't massive but is more than adequate and there's plenty of storage space, with a good sized boot.
However driving the new Polo is where any similarity with the old Polo ends. It's…… well it's just like driving a Golf lol. Handling is great and so much sportier and engaging than before, it holds corners well, feels balanced in bends and just flows beautifully on twisting country roads. The suspension and ride quality are pure brilliance, it's so comfortable and just soaks up the bumps and bad road surfaces. Thanks to its all new stiffer body the new Polo is also one of the safest in its class (5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests), VW have also made as standard on all models, 4 airbags, ABS with VW new HBA system (Hydraulic Brake Assist, Which works in conjunction with the other elements of the braking system, this system recognises from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed whether it is a 'normal' braking situation or an emergency stop. In the event of an emergency stop, HBA automatically increases braking pressure, activating ABS and ensuring the level of braking meets the needs of the conditions. The application of brake assist makes it possible even for unskilled drivers to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent) , ESP and Hill Hold control (for those of you that just cant pull away on a slope without rolling backwards!) so no need to bother stressing about finding the biting point anymore. The ABS and ESP mean that even under more adventurous driving or bad road conditions the Polo stays firmly on the road (well unless you're driving like an absolute moron, in which case you probably deserve to hit the tree!).
Now here's the really interesting stuff though, the new Polo is 7.5% lighter than the outgoing Polo, so although its much bigger its actually up to 20% more fuel efficient than the old one. Performance from the 90bhp 1.6 TDI CR Diesel and the 85bhp 1.4 Petrol I tested was, great on the 1.6 and good in the 1.4. Due to the weight loss over the old model, the new Polo is quicker than before, the 1.6 TDI CR will do 0-62 in 11.5 seconds and return a better than average 62mpg on the combined cycle. The 1.4 is unsurprising slightly slower with 0-62 taking 11.9 seconds, its also a lot thirstier on fuel only achieving around 47mpg, which is fairly standard for most small cars.
Standard spec levels are amazing from the entry level S right up to the top-of-the-range SEL model. VW have also added a brand new spec level aimed at younger and sportier drivers… The Moda. Available with the 1.2L engine (both the 60bhp and 70bhp versions) the 'Moda' comes as standard with so pretty cool kit, amongst the list are: alloys, tinted windows, iPod and USB connection to an upgraded stereo, chrome inserts both in the interior and on the exterior radiator grille, it also comes with front fog lights and plenty of other kit.
So overall I do like the new Polo, it's a slightly smaller Golf, it drives well, its safer than ever and its finally a modern, trendy motor that I think will appeal to everyone from teenagers to pensioners.
Starting from £10,035 OTR for the entry level 1.2 S, the 'Moda' would be my choice at £12,595 for the 1.2L 70BHP with A/C, however that's pricey when put against other manufacturers small hatchbacks, however those don't look and drive like a Golf….