VW Polo review – Deserves all the praise it gets – TopAuto
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Saturday / 25 June 2022
HomeFeaturesVW Polo review – Deserves all the praise it gets

VW Polo review – Deserves all the praise it gets

The VW Polo still deserves all the praise and all the best-selling accolades it has received since launch.

When I first got into the hatchback I was met with a high-end atmosphere that was akin to the Audi A3 I tested earlier this year.

The Polo may not exactly feel worth double its price, but in the R300,000-R400,000 segment where it lives, it’s one of, if not the highest-quality vehicle in terms of construction. 

I had the opportunity to put the entry-level specification through its paces, and it made me think twice about why one would really need something more expensive.

70kW of fun

The new VW Polo range – bar the GTI – is powered by a 1.0-litre, turbo-petrol engine.

In this model, which sports the five-speed manual transmission, the combination generates 70kW and 175Nm, which doesn’t sound too impressive on paper.

That is until you’re on the move, and you feel how well the underpinnings mesh.

100km/h is attainable in 10.8 seconds, and all the while you have a growing grin as you flick through the smooth transmission and hear the three-cylinder unit get louder.

Worrying about breaking the speed limit comes second to enjoyment, as, if you want to burn any rubber in this Polo, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to do so.

However, it’s nippy around town and becomes even more fun to drive when hitting windier roads.

The Polo sits flat and self-assured around every bend as well as at high speeds, and it’s equally as quiet inside the cabin at 120km/h as it is at 20km/h.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I neglected to record my final fuel consumption figure after the test wrapped up, but I can say that after four days and 260km, only two out of the eight bars on the fuel gauge were gone.

Exclusivity in the hatchback segment

The Polo competes in the entry-level to mid-range hatchback segments, providing a premium atmosphere inside the cabin that is unmatched in its class.

VW might be proficient in building pricey hatches under the Audi banner, but it’s still difficult to make a R300,000 car feel much more high-end than it is.

Unlike quite a few of its competitors, the Polo’s plastic surfaces give off a solid feel rather than an empty one, and the Digital Cockpit driver’s display and infotainment screen operated without a single hitch and bring a highly modern appearance.

The latest, top-of-the-line Discover Media infotainment system offers innovative features such as four pre-sets for the digital instrument cluster so that the driver can have a variety of different information with a swipe on the screen.

Another highlight was the friendly greetings on the various displays whenever you turn the VW on and off. I will admit that on two occasions I did remember to take something out of the car that I would’ve otherwise forgotten had I not seen the “Got everything? Everyone out of the car?” message shown on the central screen.

One thing I’m also happy to have seen the Polo retain over the years is the card/ticket holder below the gear lever. This was one of my most-used “features” in the 2011 Polo Vivo I once owned, and I made use of it a few times again over the past weekend.

Granted, the VW press car did have almost all the bells and whistles in the catalogue installed.

When it comes to features, the baseline Polo offers a decent spec list including LED lights, electric windows, a digital instrument cluster, and a 6.5-inch media screen with smartphone mirroring.

In today’s hatchback landscape, you won’t have to look hard to find one that offers more equipment than the VW as standard.

However, what it does offer covers your most basic needs, and if budget is not a problem, a host of additional technologies can also be fitted.

Check the boxes carefully, and you’re able to get nice-to-haves that are unattainable elsewhere in the segment for a price that can still be considered reasonable.

Equipment such as autonomous parking, a reverse camera, matrix LED lights, stylish alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, a panoramic sunroof, a larger instrument cluster with dozens of configurations, and an infotainment system with features aplenty, more than you’d have on something from Korea or Japan, are all available.

All these niceties were fitted to the Polo I tested, and even with these, the asking price still came in under R450,000.

Finding any other vehicle with the same features will be difficult at this price point, and finding a comparable hatchback would be near impossible.

Chip shortage and the South African-built Polo

Since the new Polo is built right here on local soil, we spoke to VW South Africa to find out how the ongoing chip shortage and supply-chain issues are affecting the popular hatchback.

“The significant shortage of semiconductor capacity in 2021 and the continued very high level of demand worldwide has led to production bottlenecks in many industries,” said the manufacturer.

“That shortage has hit the automotive industry and the Volkswagen Group’s brands including VWSA’s Brands – Volkswagen Passenger, Audi, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.”

VW South Africa said most of its models have been impacted by the chip shortage, but that it is “making every effort it can to improve the supply of vehicles to [its] customers.”

However, the silver lining to this dark cloud is that the availability of VW’s optional features is not affected by the shortages, meaning the all-important panoramic sunroof will always be available on every new Polo.


VW Polo


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