2014 VOLKSWAGEN POLO REVIEW 22 Apr 2014
The 2014 Volkswagen Polo’s face-lift is a fairly big one. Not only does it look slightly different, but it has also been given the 59bhp and 74bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines from the Up city car, and had its steering and suspension altered.
The old 84bhp 1.4 petrol engine has been dropped, leaving the turbocharged 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol (now available with either 89bhp or 108bhp) and the new three-cylinder motors to make up the bulk of the sales.
There’s also a 148bhp 1.4-litre ACT petrol engine that can shut down two of its four cylinders when cruising to save fuel. This engine and the 1.2 TSI are the only engines to which you can add the £1375 DSG automatic gearbox, too.
Come the end of the year the engine line-up will change again when a turbocharged version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder replaces the 1.2, and an 88g/km 1.4-litre, three-cylinder diesel engine will appear, which is essentially a direct replacement for the current Polo Bluemotion.
Interior materials and switchgear have been refreshed, too, but a new infotainment system is the key upgrade to the interior; even base models now get a 5.0-inch colour touch-screen.
What’s the 2014 Volkswagen Polo like to drive?
Very good. We tried the new 74bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine, which sits comfortably at low revs around town, where it’s refined and generally relaxing. It will also happily cruise at 70mph, although it’ll take you a while to get there because you have to really wring everything out of the engine to make decent progress. If you value being able to overtake with confidence, or regularly carry more than one passenger, then you’ll want one of the more powerful engines.
Still, the steering is light and predictable and the positive pedal weights make it easy to drive smoothly around town. Ride comfort is pretty good, too; the soft suspension soaks up bigger bumps well, even on badly pockmarked roads. There’s quite a bit of body lean through corners, though, and the Polo is still nowhere near as agile nor as fun as a Ford Fiesta.
What’s the 2014 Volkswagen Polo like inside?
If there’s anything that really sells the Polo, it’s the cabin. Dense, soft-touch plastics and a new colour touch-screen (which is a bigger 6.5-inch unit on SE trim and above) immediately give it a grown-up feel that sets it apart from the majority of the competition.
All the switches are where you want them, and while the touch-screen features some small icons that need frustratingly precise prodding, the menus are logical and easy to navigate.
Otherwise, the Polo’s interior remains unchanged, which is no bad thing. The driving position is good and a height-adjustable driver’s seat features in all models, making it easy to get comfortable.
Some rivals offer more space for rear passengers – particularly legroom – but a couple of young kids will be more than comfortable and headroom is decent in both the front and back. Visibility is also among the best in class. Combined with the Polo’s boxy shape, it’s perfect for slotting into tight parking spaces.
As well as the colour screen, entry-level S trim models come with a DAB radio, a USB socket and Bluetooth, but you have to step up to S A/C trim to get air-conditioning, which adds £720 to the price.
The biggest-selling trim is SE, which starts at £12,435 for the 59bhp 1.0 three-door (the five-door commands a £640 premium). It comes with 15-inch alloys, body-coloured door handles, electrically adjustable door mirrors, a leather multi-function steering wheel and a single-shot CD player.
Meanwhile, SE Design includes various tweaks including 16-inch alloys, front foglights and sports seats, while the range-topping SEL adds front and rear parking sensors and a front centre armrest.
Should I buy one?
If you really value that premium feel in the cabin, then yes. The Polo has a much classier interior than most of its rivals, on top of which it’s competitively priced, well equipped and will hold its value better than our favourite small car, the Ford Fiesta.
However, the Fiesta is the more rewarding to drive and is also available with far bigger discounts.
So, while there are plenty of reasons you might opt for the refined and grown-up feeling Polo, the Fiesta still remains the benchmark in this class.