As a one-time owner of a second-hand Polo during my residence in the UK, the opportunity to see how Volkswagen had evolved the Golf’s little brother certainly piqued my interest. Back in the day, my dark green, mean machine was an embodiment of freedom, enabling me to embark on adventurous road trips around the beautiful British countryside, and attend rock concerts in little towns I had never heard of. The previous owner had lowered the suspension and added some interior flair, making it seem far more sportive than it actually was and resulting in some jocular comments from my fellow petrol-headed friends. Even so, the additional features only made me drive it harder and faster until I eventually killed the engine.
When I sold the Polo’s burnt out body to a mechanic for peanuts, I wondered if I would ever get another chance to relive those fond memories that only Volkswagen gave me. Naturally, when the opportunity came to test drive the new Volkswagen Polo 2015, I was at the front of the queue, screaming at the bouncer (read: my boss) to let me in first, reviving my enthusiasm from all those British rock shows.
In The Driving Seat
Say what you will about Volkswagen, but nobody can deny that they never fail to make a comfortable and inviting interior that exceeds expectations. I must admit that when I first saw the stark orange copper exterior color, I was a little put off, but once I climbed into the driving seat, my doubts about the German OEM’s design choices were shattered. The seats, mirrors, climate control system, and steering wheel position are all very easy to adjust, enabling you to find a comfortable balance as soon as you climb aboard. The steering wheel feels solid and rugged, adding to that sense of control.
Most of the vehicles we review are of the automatic persuasion, which is something that this reviewer loathes. Manual transmission all the way, baby! The added control that the Polo’s manual transmission provides is a breath of fresh air, and it adds to the fun factor. The shift stick is ergonomic and fluid, carelessly finding your intended gear when required. Combined with the stiff, yet submissive, clutch pedal, the manual Polo feels very responsive. Even when testing the Polo in traffic-centric Mexico City, and having to shift gears every 5 seconds, I never found myself wishing for automatic. The added bonus of a lower consumption rate should persuade any cash-conscious driver of the benefits of manual over auto.
Ride & performance
One thing that the Polo excels at is making driving fun. Tearing around the backstreets of Condesa or navigating the hilly highways of Morelos was an enjoyable experience, which is made even sweeter by the vehicles low price point. Why fork out hundreds of thousands more pesos for something similar when you can get a decent ride for half the price? Maybe it’s the addition of a 1.6l engine that has helped to give this machine a little more punch. The only point of contention is how much that punch descends into a weak slap on steep hills. The Polo just doesn’t have the power to climb. In any case, keep this vehicle on flat surfaces and you’ll enjoy every minute.
Volkswagen superior craftsmanship becomes very clear when you notice the absence of any cabin noise and vibration. It’s quite impressive that the company managed to achieve this with some of its cheaper components, and the presence of such a comfortable ride is another solid reason to love this car.
Features & Safety
While the interior features were a little lacking in terms of new technology, Volkswagen has made the best of what they can provide at this price point. It’s nothing to write home about, but the stereo system is decent and has enough connection options to suit any smartphone owner. That’s pretty much it, in terms of tech. It’s a shame that the USB port was not installed in the small space in front of the gear stick, as having cables dangling over the AC controls is a little annoying sometimes. The car could also benefit from an on-board trip computer and some steering wheel controls, at least for the stereo. In this technological age, these features are pretty much mandatory.
Safety wise, the Polo feels trustworthy, and has decent stopping power when need be. During a particularly manic trip to Six Flags theme park, I found myself having to simultaneously weave around a flatbed truck in the midst of a three lane u-turn, while avoiding a hurricane of loose paper escaping from a broken down delivery van. Throughout this whole ordeal, the Polo held true, ensuring that both my passenger (another rather amused Englishman) and I returned home safely.
Compact cars in the same category as the Polo can sometimes fail to leave any kind of positive, lasting impression, but Volkswagen has avoided that possibility and crafted another fine addition for their range. While not as speedy and powerful as its ever-popular big brother, the Golf, the Polo provides a comfortable and memorable driving experience that suits almost any driving condition and any size of wallet.
Pros & Cons
+ Incredibly fun to drive
+ Comfortable cockpit
+ Low consumption
– Loses power on steep inclines
– Lack of cockpit technology
At a Glance
- Make: Volkswagen
- Model: Polo 2015
- Engine: 1.6-liter 105 HP
- Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
- Consumption: 18.8 km / l
- Torque: 112 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm
- Color: Orange Copper
- Acceleration: 0-100 km/h 15.6 seconds
- Truck capacity: 262 liters
Price (At Time of Review)