Volkswagen Polo Review 2023

Volkswagen Polo At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The VW Polo is the consummate all-rounder: it just does everything well. It might not be the most thrilling or affordable small car, but its grown up mini-Golf approach makes it a top buy.

+More Golf-like than ever, will carry four large adults in comfort, huge boot, excellent TSI petrol engines.

-Rivals provide more pizzazz, bigger wheels spoil the comfy ride, fiddlier touch controls with 2021 facelift.

New prices start from £14,235
Insurance Group 8
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

The Volkswagen Polo has been a staple in the small car sector for decades, and still remains right at the top of the tree. This sixth-generation car is five years old now, and while a recent mid-life update hasn't exactly transformed it, it has freshened it up just enough. Excitement isn't the order of the day here, but as our review shows the VW Polo just does everything really well and with minimal fuss. 

Downsizing is the flavour of the month. Fuel prices are rising, space on the road is decreasing and cars are getting bulkier and more refined than ever. So do you really need anything bigger than the Volkswagen Polo?

The latest, MK6 Polo is basically where the VW Golf was 20 years ago in terms of space and on-road refinement, despite being smaller on the outside. In fact we had passengers who thought it was the latest Golf when climbing inside - it really could serve as a small family car, with a surprisingly big boot too. 

Of course, the VW Polo is much more efficient, agile, high-tech and safe than a two decade-old Golf. In fact its one of the safest cars in its class and, in top trims particularly, is packed full of big-car kit. The 2021 facelift has brought standard niceties such as digital instruments and Travel Assist for partial self-driving. 

As has been the case for years, the Polo shares much under the skin with the SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. But despite same platform and excellent TSI engines the Polo feels a fair bit more upmarket, with better soundproofing and a higher quality cabin with more kit.

One thing the Polo does lack is the fun, engaging driving experience of rivals like the Ford Fiesta. It's more composed and comfortable instead, with an easy and relaxing driving experience, particularly if you avoid going for the bigger wheel options. It makes for a very sensible first car - if you can afford it. 

The VW Polo isn't the cheapest small car - you'll want the Citroen C3, Dacia Sandero or Vauxhall Corsa for that. But it is priced roughly in line with the Hyundai i20, Peugeot 208, Toyota Yaris and Renault Clio. Some of them are more stylish and kit-laden, but only the Peugeot can really match the quality feel and refined driving experience. 

There's a Polo for everyone, from the cheapest 80PS 1.0-litre Life right up to the 207PS GTI hot hatch. But the range of engines and trim levels has shrunk for 2021, with no more diesels - not that many people bought one. Regardless, the Polo is an easy car to recommend, but perhaps a hard car to fall head over heels in love with. 

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

Ask Honest John

What's the best small hatchback?

"I'm looking for a small hatchback style car, like a Hyundai i10 size. I would like a very comfortable drivers seat, rear parking camera and as a bonus it would be great to have a heated windscreen. If there is no rear camera as standard, how much would it cost on average to get one fitted please?"
Would you consider something a little bigger? A Fiesta-sized hatchback would be more comfortable and more likely to have the features you desire. We'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo or Toyota Yaris. Alternatively, if you do want a small city car, a Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10 would probably be your best option. You can pick up a reversing camera kit from Halfords for around £120 - they won't be as good as built-in systems, but they'd do the job.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can you recommend a small narrow car?

"I wish to buy a new car soon. I'd buy a new Nissan Micra if they were still made, or a Skoda Fabia if there wasn't a 22 week wait. Please identify for me some smallish 4/5 door petrol cars, not automatic, with under 1.5 litre engines. If possible, please specify width as I have a narrow space for parking."
If you're quick, you'll be able to get an as-new Ford Fiesta which would fit the bill nicely. Production of the Fiesta is ending this week, but it remains one of the best small cars you can buy. There are a number of pre-registered examples available at dealers, allowing you to save money and skip the waiting list compared to buying a brand new car. The Fiesta measures 1735mm wide. Alternatively, we'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo or Peugeot 208.
Answered by Andrew Brady

I need a small automatic hatchback, what would you recommend?

"We are looking for a small practical newish family car that we only drive short distances in, approximately 20-30 mile a day and not long distances over the weekend. It has to be automatic, hatchback size is okay and it must be reliable. What do you make of the Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 Match 5dr DSG ?"
If you are only driving short distances on a regular basis then a petrol car makes the most sense and an automatic helps to take the strain out of stop start driving. The Volkswagen Polo is a good choice and has a decent reliability record, but you could also consider the Toyota Yaris, which comes with a hybrid engine and a CVT automatic gearbox as standard and is known for its excellent reliability.
Answered by David Ross

Best small car with a sunshine roof?

"What is the best small car with a sunshine roof? "
Take a look at the Toyota Aygo X. It's a brilliant little car available with a retractable canvas roof. If you'd prefer a conventional glass sunroof, we'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo - it's a great little car available with an optional panoramic roof.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Polo cost?