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Volkswagen Polo Engines, Driving and Performance

How does the Volkswagen Polo drive?

The stand-out feature of the Polo is how grown-up it feels. It feels like a bigger, more expensive car – especially when you’re cruising at 70mph on a motorway. It doesn’t move about or get blown off course by gusts of wind as you used to find with smaller hatchbacks. Likewise it’s pretty quiet in the cabin at motorway speeds, as you’d usually expect from a larger Golf-size car.

It’s easy to drive around town thanks to a light clutch in most of the manual versions, and the gear knob itself is easy to move with no heavy or notchy action to get on your nerves after 20 minutes of stop-start traffic. 

When you’re on a twisty country road the Polo’s stability comes back to the fore – it feels planted and grippy through bends, and although a Ford Fiesta may put more of a smile on your face, the Polo just gets on with it, filling you with confidence in its ability to tackle almost any driving situation.

Is the Volkswagen Polo comfortable?

Yes, the Polo’s suspension does a good job of softening most big bumps in the road, yet it’s not so soft that it leans over lots in corners. It doesn’t fidget around town or at high speeds, but you might find a Peugeot 208 is comfier still.

While the Polo’s seats are all comfortable, we found that the ones in entry-level Life models don’t have as much side bolstering as higher-spec versions, so you do fall out of the seat a bit more in fast corners, but it’s a mild complaint. 

Perhaps our biggest comfort-related bugbear is the fact all manual Polos now get a five-speed manual gearbox – we’d rather have a sixth gear to really drop the revs down at 70mph to reduce engine noise when you’re cruising.

What’s the best engine to get?

Simple – pick one of the Polo’s two turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI petrol engines. You can choose from either 95 or 110hp options, and the latter comes with an automatic gearbox option. Even the 95hp version has enough oomph to get the Polo up to speed quickly and reasonably efficiently – expect to see about 50mpg in the real world. 

You’ll notice another 1.0-litre petrol engine in the range with 80hp – this MPI engine has no turbocharger and it makes the Polo feel pretty sluggish above 50mph. If you mostly trundle around town it’s an okay choice, but you end up working it so hard above 50mph you can see your fuel economy drop to about 40mpg.

Meanwhile there’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol in the Polo GTI – it makes 207hp and turns the Polo into a rapid hot hatch.

Volkswagen Polo performance

The Polo’s entry-level 1.0 MPI engine with 80hp is the slowest of the bunch, getting you from 0-62mph in a very leisurely 15.5 seconds.

Step up to the turbocharged 1.0 TSI engine with 95hp and the same dash takes a much more lively 10.8 seconds, which drops to 10.4 seconds if you go for the 110hp option.

If you go for a Polo GTI you can almost halve that time – it’ll get from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.

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