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Driven: Volkswagen Polo Beats. Image by Volkswagen.

Driven: Volkswagen Polo Beats
Driving VWs latest supermini challenger on UK roads for the first time.


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Volkswagen Polo Beats

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Following on from our first drive of the Volkswagen Polo on foreign shores, now we try this important supermini back on UK roads. Does it convince us that it's the new class leader in the supermini segment?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Polo Beats 1.0 TSI 95
Pricing: Polo range from 12,600; Beats 1.0 TSI 95 from 16,980 OTR, car as tested 19,020
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 103g/km (VED 140 annually)
Combined economy: 62.8mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Power: 95hp at 5,000- to 5,500rpm
Torque: 175Nm at 2,000- to 3,500rpm

What's this?

The Volkswagen Polo Mk6, driven in the UK for the first time. We've already sampled the German hatch in Hamburg but, as is always the case when driving in Germany, the roads are a lot smoother and less heavily trafficked over there. So, in order to properly assess where the Polo sits in the supermini hierarchy, it's time to try it on our own soggy, winter-spec roads, to see if we can expose any further chinks in its armour.

The car we've chosen for this brief test is a Beats model with the charismatic 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder engine in 95hp trim. Everything we said at the international launch holds true about the Polo's aesthetics, but we must commend Volkswagen for injecting a much-needed shot of youthfulness into this generation of Polo. A variety of bright body colours and dash-pad finishes are available to make it less 'granny-spec' than it has been previously, while the Beats itself has the funky black, red and white interior.

This might sound an odd, possibly hideous combination, but when you're sitting in it, there's no doubt this is the most visually interesting fascia in the class - as well as the undisputed best for fit and finish. The Beats also has a 300-Watt sound system and natty stripes on the exterior, so the Polo has plenty of kerb appeal. And if the related SEAT Ibiza is a bit sharper to look at on the outside, then the Volkswagen absolutely monsters the Spanish car in terms of its overall interior quality.

How does it drive?

However, the SEAT then lands a counter-punch when it comes to the drive. There's absolutely no doubt that this is the most entertaining Polo to drive yet. It lacks for any of the stodgy, safe and dull handling that almost all of its predecessors presented, and the MQB A0 underpinnings make it feel every bit as lively as the latest Ford Fiesta, which traditionally always had the dynamic edge on the VW. Mind, the Fiesta is much more refined and possessed of a better interior now, so the battle between these two supermini heavyweights looks terrifically evenly matched.

The problem isn't the Fiesta, though; it's that Ibiza. Somehow, the SEAT has slightly more driving fizz than the Polo. There's not a huge amount in it on weight - using the Volkswagen Group's quoted figures, the Polo is 23kg heavier than the Ibiza with the same engine, at 1,145kg and 1,122kg respectively. But the SEAT feels livelier, sprightlier and daintier on its feet. The Polo's great, of course: strong body control, good steering and that eager drivetrain ensure it feels perky enough. But we know the MQB A0 can deliver more in terms of driver thrills. That the Polo is still holding back on us, admittedly right at the sort of road-holding limits than most supermini owners will never get close to approaching, is a bit of a shame.

Refinement is off the charts, though, with ride comfort and noise suppression so good that they'd probably embarrass something like a BMW 5 Series from a decade ago, so the Polo's strengths are as they ever were - safe, secure and stolid. It will no doubt sell in huge numbers as a result, it already being VW's second-best seller on these shores after the all-conquering Golf. Yet we'd still recommend picking the cheaper Ibiza first and foremost if you're after the best supermini on sale right now. And that's a surprising result, because it's normally Volkswagen versus Ford in this particular market sector.


Whether you agree with our thoughts on the oh-so-similar-in-technical-details SEAT Ibiza or not, the fact is that the VW Polo Mk6 is an immensely charming, talented all-rounder; as it ever has been, only it's a bit better in almost all departments than previously and it also boasts the most entertaining chassis of any Polo yet. Those really after driving thrills will have to go for the GTI, which'll mean somewhere beyond 20,000 and thus a lot of expenditure for this size of car. But if you stick with the regular Polo range, you're going to get a supermini with incredible strength in depth. Much as it ever was with this Volkswagen, then.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 11 Jan 2018    - Volkswagen road tests
- Volkswagen news
- Polo images

2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.

2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.2018 VW Polo Beats 1.0 TSI drive. Image by Volkswagen.


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