Volkswagen Polo hatchback

£11,525 - £20,140

The Volkswagen Polo shares the upmarket, classy appeal of its larger, more expensive Golf sibling, giving it a big presence in a sector of the market containing the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. It also shares many of its mechanical parts with the Skoda Fabia, SEAT Ibiza and the more expensive Audi A1. Though not the cheapest car in its class, it has such a wide range of talents that even good-value cars like the Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio see it as a threat.

Compared to some rivals, it’s not the most exciting car to drive. It has a rather more mature way of doing things and the emphasis is rather more on comfort than entertainment. The interior is of a very high quality and quiet so long journeys are no hardship.

The smallest engine is a 1.0-litre petrol which is also used by the Vokswagen up! city car. It struggles a little installed in a bigger, heavier car, but this might not be a problem if you rarely expect to venture out of town. Fortunately, there are many more powerful choices available.

The next engine in the range is a 1.2-litre TSI petrol, while the 94bhp 1.0-litre TSI is exclusive to the economical BlueMotion model. There’s also a 108bhp version of this engine which can be chosen in R Line and SEL models only. The BlueGT model comes with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol making 148bhp – a clever engine which increases economy with Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) which effectively reduces the size of the engine when full power isn’t needed.

There’s only one 1.4-litre diesel engine, available with either 74 or 89bhp depending on model of Polo. It’s extremely economical, though, with the promise of up to 83mpg.

It helps to justify the price premium the Volkswagen Polo carries over its rivals when you look at the list of standard equipment fitted. It’s worth noting that base S models go without air-conditioning and remote central locking. Better value is found further up the range.

Our favourite is the 1.2-litre TSI petrol Match. The equipment list is general, extending to a DAB radio and touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and air-conditioning. Electric folding mirrors and front and rear parking sensors are practical touches, while smart alloy wheels and darker-tinted rear glass add distinction outside.

Still more luxurious is the SEL, and the R Line models have a sporty demeanor with their bodykit, sports seats and piano black dashboard trims. The BlueGT has a look all of its own both inside and out, there’s also a Polo Beats edition featuring 300-watt sound system by Beats Audio, as well as unique Beats trims. And all this choice is without looking at the substantial options list.
The Volkswagen Polo can be specced as almost a mini-limo, and that’s key to its appeal. If everyday comfort is all important, with economy and quality high on your list, the Polo is an obvious choice.