Volkswagen Polo variants
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Variant: GTI, Gti-Plus
Variant: GTI, Gti-Plus

Finance representative example (PCP)

Total cash price £13,699. Borrowing £10,959 with a £2,740 deposit at a representative APR of 12.9%.

49 monthly payments
Fixed interest rate
Total amount payable
Cost of credit
Optional final payment
Annual mileage limit
6000 miles

Volkswagen Polo buying guide

You can get your Volkswagen Polo with a range of different trim and engine choices. Keep reading to learn about each version so you can pick the right one for you.

What Volkswagen Polo trim levels are there?

S is the entry-level trim for pre-facelift Polos. This includes air conditioning, automatic emergency braking, and a basic touchscreen infotainment system without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

SE is the next trim up for pre-facelift cars. These gain alloy wheels, a variable-height boot floor and an upgraded infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Life is the entry-level trim for post-facelift cars. Equipment includes LED headlights, alloy wheels, air conditioning and an infotainment system with smartphone mirroring.

Style is the mid-range trim for post-facelift Polos. This trim adds even posher auto LED headlights, interior ambient lighting, a front grille LED light bar, built-in sat-nav for the infotainment system, larger alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, front sports seats and two-zone climate control.

Jumping back to pre-facelift models, mid-range cars come in Match trim. This trim is similarly equipped to Style cars, minus the LED light bar.

Beats trim on pre-facelift models comes in collaboration with Audio Technology brand Beats. These get a host of visual upgrades inside and out including stripes on the bodywork and part-faux-leather sports seats. The main addition, however, is the 300-watt Beats sound system, which includes upgraded speakers and amplifier so your ‘tunes’ sound suitably ‘sick’.

SEL is a high-end trim for Polo models. This version gets spots of chrome detailing around the bodywork to mark it out from lesser Polos. Inside, you get upgraded upholstery and a fully featured infotainment system.

R-Line is VW’s sporty trim level similar in spirit to Mercedes’ AMG Line or BMW’s M Sport. This trim is offered on both pre and post-facelift models and bestows both with meaner-looking details such as larger alloy wheels, a more aggressive body kit, and darker-coloured styling details.

At the top of the Polo range sits the GTI hot hatch. This gets a host of performance upgrades including adaptive sports suspension, larger brakes and alloys, an electronic performance differential, and grippy sports seats. You can also upgrade to GTI+ models which adds a few premium touches including a digital dashboard and keyless entry.

Volkswagen Polo interior and technology

Volkswagen’s interiors have earned a reputation for being hard wearing and ergonomic, and the Polo’s cabin is no different. The paired-back dashboard design means the front of the car feels airy and everything feels securely screwed together. Thankfully, the Polo hasn’t made the same mistake as its larger Golf sibling and has kept physical controls for the heater and AC, in place of the Golf’s clunky touchscreen controls.

We’ve few complaints about the Polo’s infotainment system. The graphics are clear and easy to understand, with a logical menu layout, and a screen that responds swiftly to your touch. All the digital features you’d expect – DAB radio and Bluetooth – are present and correct, and all versions save for entry-level S trimmed cars feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Space is pretty good in the Polo, provided you mainly use the rear seats to carry occasional passengers, rather than as a regular occurrence. There’s not much room for three adults to fit across the rear bench, and neither is there a lot of room to manoeuvre screaming kids or bulky car seats into position, so family buyers might want to pick something larger. Cargo room is perfectly acceptable for the class, with a handy square load area making it easy to make the most of the space available.

What’s the best engine for the Volkswagen Polo?

Polos in the UK are invariably powered by smooth petrol engines, so your selection is mainly a matter of choosing how much performance you’d like.

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 EVO 80

The entry-level engine for Polo models is a non-turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol. As the name suggests, this unit makes around 80hp. This is fine around town but will feel quite strained if you regularly need to travel at motorway speeds with the 0-62mph sprint taking a sedate 15 seconds. It offers impressively cheap insurance costs, though.

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95

This unit uses mostly the same petrol engine as 1.0 EVO 80 models but adds a turbocharger, bringing power up to 95hp. That modest boost in power is joined by a much larger boost in torque, which helps lower the 0-62mph time to a much more palatable 10.8 seconds.

Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 110

Once again, the same 1.0-litre petrol engine returns for this model, but with power upped to 110hp. The majority of these models come equipped with VW’s smooth and swift DSG automatic gearbox. This replaced the 115hp TSI engine.

Volkswagen Polo GTI 2.0 TSI

The king of the hill among Polos is the GTI hot hatch. This version drops a much angrier 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine in the car’s nose, with an even 200hp on tap. This drops the 0-62mph time down to a speedy 6.7 seconds, putting it in contention with the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N.

Your Volkswagen Polo questions answered

You can only get the Polo in one form in the UK – a five-door hatchback. VW stopped making three-door versions several years ago.

Buyers looking at nearly new Polos are likely to encounter pre and post-facelift models. The facelift was released in 2021 and brought some very subtle updates to the Polo’s styling and equipment list. It’s tricky to tell pre and post-facelift models apart because they look so similar – the most obvious change is to the shape of the brakelights, with the older model featuring six-sided units that wrap around the side of the car, while the new model adds pointy elements to the inner sides of the brake lights, mimicking the look of the larger Golf hatchback.

The Polo is slightly less than 4.1 metres long. That puts it within just a few millimetres of key rivals including the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208. Those compact dimensions mean the Polo is easy to live with in urban environments, being able to slip into tight parking spaces or squeeze through narrow gaps in traffic.

Practicality in the Polo is generally strong provided you’re not looking for a full-on family car. There’s enough passenger space for four adults to sit comfortably, but squeezing three across the back row will quickly lead to complaints of limited elbow and legroom from the middle passenger. The boot is on-par for the class, with enough space to comfortably fit one large suitcase or the weekly shop. However, if you regularly use the back seats, or often need to transport kids or pets, you might want to look at a larger vehicle.

Yes, the Volkswagen Polo offers an 80hp petrol engine that sits in insurance group 1 – the very lowest. And that’s the case whether you stick with the SE trim, move up to Match or make a beeline for the Beats trim. The Polo is one of only several new cars with such a low insurance rating.

Volkswagen has a generally good reputation for reliability, and the Polo feels like it’s screwed together better than many of its rivals. Not every single Polo will be trouble-free but the vast majority of cars shouldn’t give you any headaches during your time with it. Look out for Volkswagen service plans to bring the cost of routine garage visits down.

If you want a small-ish car, the Polo should at least be on your shortlist. Its build quality makes it feel like a more expensive car, there’s plenty of space for four adults – and a big boot – and the driving experience is refined and sophisticated. Add in peppy petrol engines capable of 50mpg, a five-star safety rating and a good level of standard equipment, the Polo is one of the best superminis on sale.