Volkswagen Polo (2009 – 2017) Review

Volkswagen Polo (2009 – 2017) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Polo is also available in three- and five-door body styles, with the latter the more common and desirable as it makes the VW one of the most practical superminis of this period.

+Neatly styled and easy to drive. Room for five. Most come with full size spare. High quality interior. Double folding rear seats give flat load area. Frugal 1.2 TDI BlueMotion.

-Lacks the sparkle of other small hatches. Timing chain problems of 2009-2013 EA111 1.2 TSI increasingly common.

Insurance Groups are between 4–23
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

The Volkswagen Polo is a car that’s very hard to argue against. In this fifth-generation version, it’s lighter and more efficient than its predecessor, deliver a safe, undemanding drive and offers up plenty of cabin space when compared to most of its rivals.

There’s a good choice of engines and the option of an automatic gearbox, while the handling is safe and secure, even if it won’t inspire you in the way a Ford Fiesta will on a twisty road. More relevant to most Polo drivers will be the feeling of being in a car that is solidly built and decently equipped if you sidestep the entry-level models and go for SE trim or above.


Small cars don't have to be exciting to be successful as the Polo proves. It's been going since 1975 and has carved out a reputation as a well built and sensible small hatchback. There's certainly nothing wrong with that and more than 10 million people worldwide seem to agree as they've bought one. The latest version - which is now the fifth generation model - follows that trend. It's not radical or groundbreaking but it is attractive, well engineered and easy to live with.

This Polo is slightly bigger than the 2005-2009 model but actually weighs less which helps economy. And in terms of styling it's far more in line with its larger relation the Golf, than was the case with the previous model.

That's especially true at the front where it's easy to mistake the two from a quick glance. It's a huge improvement inside too with a far more appealing layout and a better impressions of quality. It's also roomier, especially noticeable in terms of elbow room for those in the front.

The standard Polo was available with a wide choice of engines. Most people choose the standard 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine which comes with either 60PS or 70PS. In 2014 the Polo was facelifted and this engine was replaced by a 1.0-litre from the Volkswagen Up. It's just as powerful with 60PS or 75PS versions, yet is more economical.

A Polo is an accomplished small car. It may not be as good to drive as a Ford Fiesta or as versatile as a Honda Jazz, but it remains a great all-rounder that's well built and thanks to the Volkswagen badge, holds its value well too. It was voted European Car of the Year in 2010.

Ask Honest John

Is the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI a good car?
"I am thinking of buying a 2017 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI, do you have a review of this model?"
Everything we have no this model is found here: I would recommend spending a little bit extra on the latest version of the Volkswagen Polo with the excellent 1.0 TSI petrol engine. It's a far superior car:
Answered by Dan Powell
Volkswagen Polo gear problem - what is causing it?
"I have brought my son his very first car - a 2009/59 Volkswagen Polo 1.6TDI SE Manual. We have not driven the car for a few months, but have started it to keep the battery going. I went to take the car for a drive but the gears felt really stiff and I couldn't select reverse gear, what is the problem?"
Most likely a problem with the clutch. If the car has been standing for a long period of time then I'd guess a leak has developed with the clutch master cylinder or release cylinder. If you are unlucky, it could be an issue with the synchronizer or the gearbox itself.
Answered by Dan Powell
Looking for a comfortable car - what should I buy?
"I have a Volkswagen Polo TSI Bluemotion 2016, the seats are the most uncomfortable I've sat in and I've had passengers on shorter journeys say they really dislike the seating. I'm fine on short journeys in it, but any longer than 20 minutes and everyone is aching. I'm looking at a Volkswagen T-Cross (I think a Tiguan is a bit big), SEAT Arona or something along those lines. Do you know of any cars in that sort of size range with comfortable seats? My Mum has a Vauxhall Astra Estate (2015) and the seats are SO comfortable (I'm not mad on the car itself, though it does also drive really nicely on motorways)."
The Volkswagen T-Roc is the UK's most comfortable car, according to the latest Honest John Satisfaction Index: The T-Roc is based on the same mechanical platform as the SEAT Arona, but has better seats that are firmer and more supportive. The higher driving position will also make getting in/out easier for you and your passengers to get in/out.
Answered by Dan Powell
When should a cam belt be changed?
"The official recommendation by Volkswagen for a cam belt change on the Polo 1.2 TSI is 60,000 miles or at five years, a cam belt inspection. Nowhere does VW advocate a change at five years. When I point this out to the dealers they just say we recommend a change at five years. How does this reconcile with your five year recommendation? This was also the case on my 2012 Skoda Octavia."
Almost all cam belt failures (we hear about) happen after five years and/or 60,000 miles. An inspection may identify a frayed belt. But lots of cam belt failures are linked to pulley and tensioner problems that may be less obvious to the eye - that's why it's important to have the whole lot replaced. You would usually replace the water pump, too. But I'm fairly certain it is located at the opposite end of the block to the cam belt and doesn't have a change interval - but check this with your local mechanic.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Polo (2009 – 2017) cost?