In-depth reviews

Volkswagen Polo hatchback - Reliability & safety

Standard autonomous emergency braking is brings a boost for safety in the Volkswagen Polo

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Reliability & safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

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.

Safety

The Polo was rewarded with a five-star rating after independent crash testing by Euro NCAP. While the Polo's strength is evident in its 96% score for adult occupancy protection and 85% rating for the way it looks after children, there's further good news in 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.

Recommended

Volkswagen Polo hatchback review
Volkswagen Polo - front 3/4 dynamic
Volkswagen Polo
21 Dec 2021

Volkswagen Polo hatchback review

Top 10 best first cars 2022
VW Up! - front
Best cars
29 Sep 2021

Top 10 best first cars 2022

Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa
Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa header
Superminis
8 Sep 2021

Volkswagen Polo vs Ford Fiesta vs Vauxhall Corsa

Top 10 best cars for students 2022
Skoda Fabia hatchback front 3/4 static
Best cars
3 Sep 2021

Top 10 best cars for students 2022

Most Popular

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Car tax
20 Jan 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
21 Jan 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
19 Jan 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
21 Jan 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022