The new Volkswagen Polo Hatchback is a different animal to what buyers are used to. It’s now aggressively designed, sports the look of a hot hatch, and is finally fun to drive.
It’s like the Polo has taken a walk on the wild side and is even a bit sexy.
With that in mind, it’s still very much a Polo. This means lots of interior space, strong build quality and a good amount of standard kit. As far as supermini’s go, it should be a must on your shortlist more than ever.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2017 Volkswagen Polo Hatchback review.
On The Road
Now sharper and more agile, the Polo is at last enjoyable to drive. Hurrah! Indeed, drivability has been frustratingly missing from this car over the years, but Volkswagen has finally loosened the shackles and injected it with a keen sense of fun.
The steering is precise, the suspension impresses, and you’ll feel truly entertained once you hit the open road. The Ford Fiesta might still edge it in terms of handling, but the Polo has never been this good before.
In terms of its engines, a pair of MPI-badged petrol units kick things off. They develop 64 and 74bhp respectively, come without a turbocharger, and are ideal if you’ll be spending most of your time in the city. Out on the motorway they’ll struggle, however.
If you need more performance, two 1.0-litre three-pot TS petrols might suffice. They develop 94 and 113bhp, and both have lots of character, plenty of available power and almost no turbo lag. They emit a pleasant noise too and are not too sluggish, with the smaller of the two completing the 0-62 dash in 10.8 seconds.
A quicker 1.5-litre 148bhp petrol engine hasn’t been released yet, but there are indications that it’s faster than the rest of the Polo’s range and more expensive. It sounds exciting and should compliment the car’s newfound sense of fun.
Where the diesels are concerned, a dated 1.4-litre engine has been replaced with a newer 1.6-litre diesel that develops 79 or 94bhp respectively. Both variants are smooth and offer more power than the outgoing engine. Like the MPI and TSI petrol engines, it comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard.
Volkswagen Polo Hatchback Interior, Design & Build
As ever with a Volkswagen, build quality is impressive. What’s changed hugely from last time is that the Volkswagen Polo Hatchback has ditched its conservative image in favour of a much livelier, even sportier one. Buyers can now choose from a selection of thirteen different colours for the dashboard!
Fit and finish are, as usual, excellent. There is evidence of harsher plastics here and there, but you expect that in a car at this price point. There is more design flair than previously, and more colour and brightness that lifts the previously sombre atmosphere.
The digital dashboard dials are well worth mentioning. They’ll appeal to buyers who love a bit of tech, and they help to keep the car modern and slick-looking. The graphics aren’t as noteworthy as the ones in the Golf, but again you have to keep in mind both cars’ price tags.
In terms of how practical it is, there was never any worry that, despite going for a sportier slant, VW were going to compromise the Polo’s usefulness. In fact, it’s bigger than last time which means even more interior space.
It’s also now available as a five-door model only, which means access is easy whichever trim you go for. There are plenty of storage spaces inside, including a decent-sized glovebox, door bins and a big cubby, and getting into the right driving position is easy.
Legroom is nothing short of incredible in the rear, while the boot measures 351-litres. That represents an increase in load capacity of 25%.
Equipment & Safety Of The Volkswagen Polo Hatchback
Standard kit is hard to ascertain at this point as full details are yet to be revealed. What we do know is that all models will get an 8” infotainment screen, LED running lights and autonomous emergency braking.
The mid-range trim will add upgraded upholstery, a leather steering wheel and all-round electric windows, while the R-Line model gets sharper looks. 16” alloys and a body kit. Adaptive cruise control is optional, as is a self-parking system and a panoramic sunroof.
Is the Volkswagen Polo Hatchback safe? It was given five stars when crash-tested by Euro NCAP and counts autonomous emergency braking as part of its standard safety kit. That said, its safety kit is sparse and you’ll need to pay extra for the likes of blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.
Costs Of The Volkswagen Polo Hatchback
Prices for the new car start out from £13,855 and rise to £19,530. If you prefer to lease, you can pick up a deal from £143 + VAT per month. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the turbocharged 1.0-litre 94bhp petrol engine manages to return 64.2mpg while emitting just over 101g/km of CO2. However, Volkswagen has still to release official figures for the full range, but we expect the 113bhp variant to achieve similar numbers, while a turbocharged 1.5-litre 148bhp will likely be the most expensive to run.
At the other end of the spectrum, the 1.6-litre diesel should be able to return 75mpg on a good day.
Pros and Cons Of The Volkswagen Polo Hatchback
Exciting New Image
The Polo has always been the sensible choice. It’s still sensible, but its image has been given an exciting new makeover.
It gets blessed with Volkswagen’s trademark build quality.
The Polo is larger than last time, and all occupants get a generous amount of room.
The steering still lacks feedback which can be disconcerting in bends.
Five Door Only
VW has sharpened up its image but ditched the three-door model that would have looked even sexier.
Volkswagen Polo Hatchback vs Hyundai ix20 Hatchback vs SEAT Ibiza Hatchback
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2017 Volkswagen Polo Hatchback review.
Volkswagen Polo Hatchback vs Hyundai ix20 Hatchback
The new Hyundai ix20 Hatchback might be small, but somehow Hyundai has been able to stuff it with as much practicality and room as you could want.
Its supermini dimensions, then, mean that you don’t have to worry about this car being unusable. At the same time, the fact that it’s so small means that it’s easy to drive and easy to park. The driving position is high and the steering is nice and light in the town and weighty enough on the motorway.
However, if you want a car that’s got the ability to put a smile on your face in the same way that the Polo will, the Hyundai won’t be for you.
In terms of its engines, the 1.4-litre petrol is standard fare for a car like this. It’s got enough oomph to you get you from rest to 62mph in 12.8 seconds, which is pretty nippy if you’ll be spending most of your time in the town.
On the other hand, if you’ll be regularly frequenting the motorways, a 1.6-litre petrol engine is a better shout. It does 0-62 in 11.4 seconds and doesn’t cost too much to run.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is much of the same, but copes better on ascents and on a full load. It’s also the cheapest to run and can return 64.2mpg while emitting just 115g/km of CO2.
The smallest petrol, meanwhile, returns 50.4mpg, while the bigger 1.6-litre petrol is good for 43.5mpg.
Inside, the soft suspension setup ensures good ride quality, but while the petrol engines are fairly hushed, the diesel is a noisy old thing once you accelerate hard. The dashboard is neat and tidy but basic, and everything is clearly laid out. The plastics are a bit hard, but that’s often to be expected in a car like this.
In terms of how practical it is, space and versatility are good. For example, the rear seats recline and slide back and forth. Headroom is excellent wherever you’re sat, while legroom is decent.
The wide opening doors make for easy access, the storage spaces are reasonable but nothing special, while the boot measures a hugely impressive 440-litres. That trumps the Polo and pretty much every other rival.
Hyundai – £15,195 – £18,745
Volkswagen Polo Hatchback vs SEAT Ibiza Hatchback
The new SEAT Ibiza Hatchback has always been the sportier, sexier alternative to the Polo. But does it still have the edge?
On the road, it’s smooth, quiet and comfortable. Its wider than last time, which means it’s also more composed and secure. For longer journeys, it’s just perfect. And while extra width can cause a car to be a bit unwieldy around bends, that’s not the case at all here, thanks especially to precise steering.
There is plenty of grip, but if we have a minor gripe it’s that the steering could be more communicative.
In terms of the engines, most buyers will overlook a sluggish 1.0-litre 74bhp MPI petrol engine that takes 14.7 seconds to cover the 0-62 dash. A better option is 1.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol unit that develops either 94 or 113bhp. The former is able to do 0-62 in 10.9 seconds, while the latter covers the same sprint in just 9.3 seconds.
These engines are also used in the VW Golf and Up! and are bursting with character. A brand new turbocharged 1.5-litre engine rounds off the petrol range, and its 0-62 time of 7.9 seconds will be mighty tempting to enthusiasts.
A pair of 1.6-litre diesel engines are recent additions. They deliver 79 and 94bhp respectively, and while that isn’t a massive amount of power, their returns of a 74.3mpg economy will make them popular. Moreover, they emit less than 100g/km of CO2.
The petrols aren’t exactly expensive to run either, with the 1.0-litre 74bhp MPI returning 57.6mpg and the turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI engine returning 60.1mpg economy.
Inside, the SEAT Ibiza Hatchback is as comfortable as cars at this price point come. Its suspension setup is impeccable, while the seats are nice and comfy.
The layout of the cabin has hardly changed since last time, but that isn’t a bad thing. Soft plastics abound, each model gets an infotainment touchscreen that adds more features as you move up the trims, and while the design of the dash is a bit unusual, it works. However, getting used to some of the controls might take some time.
Is the SEAT Ibiza Hatchback practical? Two adults or three children will have lots of room in the back, a large glovebox and well-shaped door bins are useful, and the boot measures 355-litres. That’s par for the course in this class, and you can add more space under for the floor for an extra £150.
SEAT – £13,410 – £19,300
Verdict Of Our 2017 Volkswagen Polo Hatchback Review
The new car might sparkle with a renewed style that will suit fashionistas, but VW has kept its ideals. It’s bigger than last time and still just as sensible and practical. One of the best cars of its type, the dazzling new Volkswagen Polo Hatchback is an excellent car to own.