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Volkswagen Polo Moves Forward

By Wolfe Tone

Okay, I’m impressed. This new Polo is a significant step forward in drive ability, road holding, quietness and functionality

Volkswagen should be suitably proud of its newborn, were it not for a couple of seemingly minor defects that stop this car short of a gold medal performance.

In 1999 I spent close to four months living with a long term Volkswagen Polo, the previous generation to the car I’m reviewing here.

I came away impressed with the all-round performance of that car. It had its faults, like poor road holding, and quirky control placement, but generally it was a good, cheap European car.

The new Polo has raised the bar considerably in some areas, but not in others.

Gone is the rough 1.6 liter engine, replaced by a 16-valve 1.4 with plenty of pep, power and punch. On paper it’s line ball for power with the old donkey, and slightly lagging in torque, but in the real world you’ll be hard pressed to pick it.

It’s a smooth, quiet, inoffensive engine that does the job of guiding the little Polo without any fuss or bother. It’s great on fuel economy too, getting the most from the small fuel tank.

The manual 5-speed gearbox is still a bit choppy and imprecise, the steering well weighted and direct.

Bigger 45 series 15-inch tyres and alloy wheels improve the car’s sporty handling appreciably without detracting from the ride and comfort. And they also improve the cars stance and look, filling out those wheel arches and adding a tensed, ready to spring attitude to the Polo.

One are the Polo fails badly is in switch placement inside the car. The window buttons have been moved from the center console to the door armrest, but are too close to the trailing edge, requiring arm contortions to reach them.

The air conditioning controls are mounted low on the center console, well out of reach if you want to keep your seat. The ignition barrel is strangely angled to require the key to be entered diagonally, which brings the back of the steering wheel into play as an obstruction.

These faults are minor and I’m sure, given time, you’d adapt to them, but the fact remains that you shouldn’t have to. It’s just poor design.

Overall though, it’s a minor blight on a car that offers unrivaled levels of specification with European design and build quality. That may hit like a freight train, but try specking up another small car to a similar equipment level and you find Volkswagen’s Polo is good value for money.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Tone, Wolfe "Volkswagen Polo Moves Forward." Volkswagen Polo Moves Forward. 7 Jun. 2010. 27 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Tone, W (2010, June 7). Volkswagen Polo Moves Forward. Retrieved December 27, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Tone, Wolfe "Volkswagen Polo Moves Forward"

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