Used Volkswagen Polo Hatchback (2009 - 2017) Driving & Performance

Review by Dan Harrison on
Last Updated: 14 Apr 2015
4.5
This Volkswagen Polo is arguably the most upmarket small car that you can buy. It's refined, stylish and - depending on which engine you choose - can be incredibly frugal or delightfully quick.
4 out of 5

Performance

Both petrol and diesel engines are offered and all are Euro6 compliant. A DSG automatic gearbox is available with certain engines – something that’s been available on larger Volkswagens, such as the Golf, for many years. This nifty gearbox uses two clutches to pre-select the next gear. It means that shifts are made quicker than the blink of an eye and feel seamless.

Petrol engines

The petrol range kicks off with a 1.0-litre engine that’s available with 59bhp or 74bhp. It’s not quick - 0-62mph takes 15.5 and 14.3 seconds respectively – but it is nippy around town. Even the 60bhp is quick away from the lights and feels sprightly, while the fact it's a three-cylinder engine means there's a distinctive engine note.

An 89bhp 1.2-litre TSI adds a little more pep and is a good choice for those who drive on longer trips more regularly - it will get to 62mph in 10.8 seconds.

The star of the petrols is a 108bhp 1.2-litre TSI engine. Despite its small size it offers great performance thanks to a clever turbocharger system. It powers the Polo from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and is a surprisingly sporty engine. Around town it’s smooth and refined, but work the gears on the open road and you’ll be rewarded with eager performance. Thanks to the turbocharger, overtaking is a breeze, too.

All four petrol engines return close fuel consumption figures around the 60mpg mark.

Joining the range later in 2014 is the new 1.2-litre TSI BlueMotion which will not only be more powerful than the diesel option but will also emit only 94g/km of CO2 and have an official average fuel consumption figure of 68.9mpg.

Greatest Volkswagen Polo performance figures belong to the turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine in the Blue GT derivative, introduced in 2012. This features Active Cylinder Technology (ACT). This shuts down two of the cylinders when the car is being driven gently to save fuel, helping the BlueGT achieve 60mpg and emit 107g/km of CO2. Available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto transmission, it can reach 130mph and has achieved a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.

Diesel engines

There is one diesel engine available, a 1.4-litre available with either 74bhp or 89bhp, both versions are capable of 67mpg. It’s a smooth and quiet engine that’s at its best on the motorway.

In early 2010 the diesel BlueMotion version was first introduced which is powered by an advanced three-cylinder 1.2 TDI engine with 75bhp. Revised in 2014 and on sale at the end of the year, the diesel BlueMotion now has CO2 emissions of 82g/km and an impressive fuel economy figure of 91.1mpg.

Updated engines for 2014

The facelift in 2014 ushered in a total overhaul of the engine line-up.

There’s a pair of new three-cylinder 1.4-litre diesels on offer with 73bhp and 88bhp.

The lowest running costs come from the 1.0-litre BlueMotion TSI, though. You’ll also have a choice of two different 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols making 58bhp or 74bhp, and a pair of 1.2-litre engines making 88bhp or 108bhp.

At the top of the performance tree (until the new GTI comes out) is a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine which develops 148bhp and features cylinder deactivation technology to keep CO2 emissions down and fuel economy up.

4 out of 5

Handling

Previous generations of the Polo have been great around town, but lacked substance when it came to longer motorway trips. This model changes that. With a tight turning circle and light steering, the Polo is still at home in the city, where parking is easy and three-point turns are fuss-free, but it’s now far more proficient on the motorway, with a fine ride and a more substantial 'big car' feel. Models with smaller engines can run out of puff, but the diesel and 1.2-litre TSI have the ability to cruise and don’t feel strained at speed. Out on the open road, the Polo offers safe and secure handling. It corners precisely and with less bodyroll than before and has real get-up-and-go about it.