Volkswagen Polo (2017) Review

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Volkswagen Polo (2017) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Where some rivals stand out for the way drive or their cabin space in the case, the Polo just gets on with doing everything very well.

+More Golf-like, will carry four large adults in comfort, huge boot, excellent range of petrol engines.

-Rivals provide better value, bumpy ride on larger wheels, some interior trims feels a little cheap. Centre rear seatbelt cannot safely be used.

New prices start from £16,860, brokers can source from £13,945
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

It’s easy to overlook the sixth-generation of Volkswagen Polo as it does everything so well. Where some rivals stand out for the way drive such as the Ford Fiesta or their cabin space in the case of the Skoda Fabia, the Polo just gets on with doing everything very well. It might not outshine its rivals in any single area, but this is what makes the Polo such a great all-rounder because it’s always among the best. For anyone looking for a small car that works in every way as an alternative to a larger hatch, the Volkswagen Polo is ideal.

Looking for a Volkswagen Polo (2017 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

Effortless to drive, spacious and backed by an excellent range of petrol engines, the Volkswagen Polo is the best excuse you’ll ever need for downsizing your daily driver. Admittedly, it lacks the value of its talented rivals, but the refined and practical sixth-generation Polo is one of the most-accomplished cars in its class. 

Mechanically speaking, the Volkswagen Polo is pretty much identical to the latest SEAT Ibiza. However, while it uses the same platform and engines as its Spanish stablemate, the Polo feels distinctly more upmarket, with higher quality cabin materials and better soundproofing. You also get more choice when it comes to tech, including the optional digital instrument display in place of the traditional needles and dials. 

The cabin is one of the most spacious and practical of any small hatchback, with a Tardis-like interior that provides comfortable transport for up to four large adults. The boot is huge too and far superior to anything you’ll find in the Vauxhall Corsa (280 litres) or Ford Fiesta (292 litres) when the rear seats are in place. In fact, with 355 litres on offer, the Polo is only a shopping bag short on the 380 litres you get in the Golf.

There's plenty of semi-autonomous safety tech, with Front Assist allowing the car to automatically apply the brakes if it detects a potential low-speed impact. The Polo has a five-star NCAP rating, while adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection make it to the options list, along with rear traffic alerts that will warn the driver of approaching traffic when reversing.  

The Polo isn't as fun or as involving to drive as the Fiesta, with its steering lacking the weight and purpose of the Ford. But the Volkswagen is safe and predictable in its handling, while its refined and quiet nature give it the feel of a much larger car on the motorway. The suspension absorbs most road imperfections, but cars on 17-inch and 18-inch wheels will transfer quite a few lumps and bumps into the cabin.

The best engine in the range is the 1.0 TSI. In our view it's one of the best turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine you can buy, with lively performance and claimed economy exceeding 60mpg. A performance-focused GTI model is also available, with a 2.0 TSI engine and 200PS. And only those covering long distances on a daily basis will need to consider the 1.6 TDI diesel.  

Efficient, comfortable and practical, the Polo is more Golf-like than ever before and certainly raises the bar for the once humble small hatchback. Admittedly, the Fiesta and Ibiza nudge ahead on value, with both getting better levels of standard equipment for similar money, but the classy Polo is an easy car to recommend for those who don't mind paying a little extra for comfort and refinement.

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a punchy hatchback to replace our old Corsa?
"We need to replace our 10-year-old Vauxhall Corsa. It needs to be a 5-door hatchback with a bit of zip. We do mostly local driving. Can you suggest anything, please? Best wishes. "
We'd recommend a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo. They're two of the best small hatchbacks on sale today, available with punchy (and economical) turbocharged petrol engines. If you want something a bit different, the Honda Jazz is a versatile and reliable choice with a high seating position. The latest model is sold exclusively as a hybrid, making it cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What would you recommend to replace a Peugeot 206?
"My Peugeot 206 is nearing the end of its life. Even though it has only done 76,000 miles, there have been too many problems keeping it going. Can you recommend something small, uninspiring, inexpensive and much more reliable? "
A Peugeot 208 could be a good option. The latest model is one of the best little cars on sale and Peugeot's reliability record has improved in recent years. Also consider a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the best used car for £10,000?
"I’m looking for a used car with low mileage for my son’s partner. It needs to be reliable, reasonably stylish and preferably one owner. Any thoughts? Thank you."
A Ford Fiesta's a pretty safe used car choice. It's stylish, reliable and there are plenty about so you can be picky about condition. Also consider a SEAT Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Volkswagen Polo seatbelt safety fault - has Volkswagen fixed it?
"Your review of the Volkswagen Polo identifies a past issue with the centre seatbelt: Has this problem been resolved? Is it safe to buy a new Polo? "
It is perfectly safe to buy a new Volkswagen Polo. The fault was linked to a potentially dangerous problem that could cause the rear left belt to uncouple when the vehicle was driven around a corner. This fault was corrected in 2019. The seat belt fitting was redesigned, with a permanent plastic spacer being placed in the double buckle of the rear seat.
Answered by Dan Powell

What does a Volkswagen Polo (2017) cost?

Buy new from £13,945 (list price from £17,125)