Volkswagen Polo hatchback - Reliability & safety
Standard autonomous emergency braking is brings a boost for safety in the Volkswagen Polo
Volkswagen's reputation for owner satisfaction has been through various ups and downs, with a middling score for the brand in our latest Driver Power survey. The Polo's safety, though, is beyond doubt.
Volkswagen Polo reliability
Volkswagen as a brand failed to impress in our 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. The German giant came 17th out of 29 manufacturers and 15.2% of owners reported at least one fault within the first year of ownership. The pre-facelift version of the Volkswagen Polo finished in 48th place out of 75 cars in our 2021 survey, receiving praise for its performance and handling, interior quality and strong fuel economy. However, reliability was regarded as patchy at best, while overall build quality also scored a mediocre rating.
The facelifted version of the Polo was rewarded with a five-star rating after independent crash testing by Euro NCAP in early 2022. While the Polo's strength is evident in its 94% score for adult occupancy protection and 80% rating for child occupancy, and 70% scores for both vulnerable road user protection and its safety assist systems thanks to the high level of crash-avoidance technology that's fitted as standard.
Every Polo comes with an autonomous emergency braking system (AEB) that works at urban speeds and can detect pedestrians, which is a welcome decision by VW. The safety experts at Thatcham estimate 75% of all collisions occur at 25mph or less, and AEB leads to a 38% reduction in “real-world rear-end crashes”. The higher trim levels also get VW’s Travel Assist suite, adding both lane keep assist and traffic jam assist.
Other safety systems are optional, but are welcome nonetheless. Blind-spot monitoring illuminates a light by the door mirrors when an object is detected either side of you, while rear cross-traffic alert scans behind the car when reversing, braking if it detects a potential collision you haven’t.
Adaptive cruise control features on the top spec models and is both a feature of convenience and safety: this system debuted in Europe on the Mercedes S-Class back in 1999 and while it was offered on the previous Polo, long-distance drivers should consider it, as it’ll match your speed to the car in front, braking and accelerating for you within prescribed limits. Specify it with the DSG automatic gearbox and it comes with a ‘Stop & Go’ function, taking much of the strain out of traffic jams as the Polo keeps pace with crawling cars automatically, leaving you to just steer.
And while the optional Park Assist self-parking system will appeal to some more than others, its inclusion on the Polo’s options list gives further credence to the idea that this is a small car with big-car options.