Volkswagen Polo Review 2022

Volkswagen Polo At A Glance

5/5
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 than ever, will carry four large adults in comfort, huge boot, excellent range of petrol engines.

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

New prices start from £14,235, brokers can source from £17,749
Insurance Group 8
On average it achieves 80% 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.

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. That makes it an extremely safe and sensible first car for those that can afford something so new. 

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.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's Volkswagen Polo review.

Ask Honest John

What is the safest small car?
"What would be the safest small car to buy, Fiat 500 size? "
The smallest cars (classed as city cars) generally have lower Euro NCAP safety ratings than larger models, but it's often more due to the reduced level of driver-assist technology rather than their crash test scores. This is done to keep the price low. We'd avoid the Fiat 500 in petrol form as it has below average adult and child occupant protection scores, but the new electric 500e has decent ratings. Pretty much every other city car has a three star Euro NCAP rating, which is acceptable, but the Seat Mii/VW Up/Skoda Citigo models all have good occupant protection scores. The latest Kia Picanto also scores well, particularly with the optional safety pack, as does the Smart ForFour. If ultimate safety matters, though, larger models like the latest VW Polo and Skoda Fabia have top five star ratings.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
First car in my sixties - what do you recommend?
"I have always had a company car and now at retirement I am faced with buying and insuring my first car. I am finding choice bewildering and insurance expensive. I live in London, park on the street and would prefer an automatic. I have loved my company Volkswagen Golfs but I'm concerned that one might be expensive to run and maintain. I love the solid feel of the Golf and road handling compared to, say, a Toyota Yaris which felt ‘tinny’ and insecure on a motorway test drive. What would you recommend on a budget of £10,000-15,000?"
We'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo. You should be able to find the latest model (launched in 2017) within budget with the DSG automatic gearbox. It'll feel just like a miniature Golf... although the latest Polo isn't actually that small. Alternatively, stick with what you know and look for a seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. Buy one with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine and it should be a very dependable choice that won't cost a lot to run. As a slightly left-field alternative, consider a Mazda 3. It'll be well built, stylish and cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a small car with robust suspension?
"I prefer a stiffer suspension to improve handling but in my part of the world there are many pot holes and speed bumps which over the years has led to expensive repairs. Given that I am not going up market for an active suspension and only need a small car, 1.2 or 1.4 litre, what would you recommend as having the most robust suspension? "
A Volkswagen Polo strikes a pretty good balance in the suspension department, especially if you find one with relatively small alloy wheels (and chunky tyres). Also consider a Honda Jazz or the very soft Citroen C3.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Should I buy an old car with low mileage?
"I am tempted to buy an immaculate one owner 2013 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI R Line with only 23,000 miles on the clock to replace my 2015 low mileage Suzuki Swift. Would it be a bad move as I know you have highlighted problems with timing chains etc. I just would like a small car that is more refined than the Swift."
I'm not an advocate of buying old cars with low mileage. It suggests that this Polo has spent most of its life standing around doing nothing. And unless it has been carefully dry stored then it will have a range of age-related issues with the suspension, joints and underbody. There has also been a number of timing chain complaints about the 2009-2013 EA111 1.2 TSI. If I was going to replace a Suzuki Swift with a Volkswagen Polo then I would swap it with the latest 1.0 TSI model, which is one of the best small cars on sale today: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/volkswagen/polo/
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Polo cost?

Buy new from £17,749(list price from £19,795)