Review: Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009)


Facelifted Polo. Wide choice of models available.

Others offer more space, extra versatility and a more enjoyable drive for less money. 1.4 engine prone to severe bore wear after 3 - 4 years.

Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009): At A Glance

What does a Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009) cost?

List Price from £15,390
Buy new from £13,935
Contract hire from £168.34 per month

What's the Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009) like to drive?

74.3mpg combined is a bold claim for a 1.4 diesel. 83.1 at 56mph is even more remarkable. As, of course, is 99g/km C02 which not only gets you off Congestion Tax from February 2008, it gets you off annual vehicle tax altogether.

Underneath, this is basically the same Polo tested in January 2002. Its had a facelift since then, and now sports different headlights. VW has added some aerodynamic tweaks, including a closed front grille a lower front spoiler, a tiny rear spoiler and sat it a bit closer to the road. The car gets 5J x 14 alloy wheels with unfashionable deep section and narrow 165/70 hard compound tyres. But the main changes are under the bonnet.

There, the 1.4 litre belt-cam 3 cylinder TDI engine has a variable vane turbocharger and Electronic Gas Recirculation to both increase economy and reduce emissions. While the final drive has been lengthened with revised ratios for 3rd, 4th and 5th that offer 35mph per 1,000rpm in 5th.

In theory, that should not have done as much as it has. Theres no fancy system that shuts off the engine when you stop, no clutched alternator, no special battery.

Inside, its fairly plain. Standard soft plastic covered steering wheel, radio c/d, but nothing fancy. Not even air-conditioning. A/c is part of the spec of the Bluemotion 2 but costs you an extra 5g/km CO2 and £35 a year tax.

Get moving and at first it feels long geared in 1st and 2nd. The variable turbo means plenty of torque from quite low revs so dont need to use many to get going. And its not hard to keep it in the 1,500rpm to 2,500rpm rev range.

Idling the engine while taking snaps and tonking down the M3 were hardly conducive to good fuel economy, which the computer showed me was 55mpg over 45 miles. So I wondered how soon it would take for that fabled 83mpg at a steady 56mph to haul the average up past 60.

The answer was just 10 miles. And after another 5 miles Id got it to 63mpg. That meant that to raise the average from 55mpg to 63mpg over those last 15 miles I must have averaged more than 80mpg.

Im convinced.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.2 48–49 mpg 14.5–14.9 s 138–140 g/km
1.2 55 47 mpg 17.5 s 143 g/km
1.2 60 49 mpg 16.5 s 138 g/km
1.4 43–45 mpg 12.2–13.5 s 150–157 g/km
1.4 TDI 58–63 mpg 12.8–15.9 s 119–129 g/km
1.4 TDI 70 63 mpg 14.6 s 119 g/km
1.4 TDI BlueMotion 74 mpg 12.8 s 99 g/km
1.6 42 mpg 10.4 s 159 g/km
1.9 TDI 59 mpg 10.7 s 127 g/km
GTI 36 mpg 8.2 s 186 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

27–82 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Polo (2005 – 2009)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What is a timing belt failure?

My 2006 Volkswagen Polo has done around 65,000 miles and is regularly serviced. While doing a long journey, the emission control warning light illuminated. Shortly afterwards the engine cut out and I managed to make it to a layby. Roadside assistance suspected a faulty coil, but back at the garage they quickly diagnosed a timing issue that has ruined the engine. I know very little about cars, so what does this really mean? They also said scrap value is minimal these days. I’ve gone from having what I thought was a healthy vehicle to suddenly having to rent a car home and kiss my Polo goodbye. They are a large company, so I don’t think they are attempting to swindle me. They are, however, extremely busy due to recent snow conditions so I wonder if that’s why they don’t seem interested in doing anything further to my car. I’m unable to take to my local guy because I’m so far from home, so need to act quickly but don’t really have many options.
The timing belt controls the valve timing and if it has failed, valves will have hit pistons and the engine will probably have self-destructed. I guess it's possible that it tore apart slowly, so firstly the timing went out (explaining the emissions light), then, when it snapped, the engine died completely. On these engines the timing belts, tensioners, waterpumps and alternator belts need replacing every five years or 60,000 miles - whichever comes first if such disasters are to be averted.
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 33%
  • 4 star 50%
  • 3 star
  • 2 star
  • 1 star 17%

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