Driven - January 2018

The New Volkswagen Polo – Bigger and Better.

The New Volkswagen Polo Driven Review

New Volkswagen Polo. Despite being a small A0 segment hatchback, the Volkswagen Polo is a big car in South Africa. Last year alone VW SA sold over 20,000 units, and the all-new model proves to be even better with a new design and exciting array of tech features. To sample the new vehicle first hand, we headed to the home of VW South Africa – Port Elizabeth, where the new Polo is being manufactured.

Arriving late in the afternoon gave us a  chance to relax, take in our surroundings and enjoy the views our hotel had on offer. Still, we were itching to see the vehicle and get behind the wheel of a car which is very important to the motoring industry and South Africa alike. That evening gave us all what we wanted, and more. After the unveiling of the New Volkswagen Polo and a short presentation, we were whisked away from the plush surroundings of our hotel to the Tramways building. Here we were presented with the 2018 Polo Cup race-car. Featuring the same engine as the upcoming Polo GTI, a 2.0-litre turbo mill producing 150kW and 340 N.m. The vehicle had undergone the usual race-car preparation, which means it was completely stripped out and fitted with a roll cage, with a single seat for the driver being left behind. ( read more about the 2018 Polo Cup here) A night of tasty food and good conversation followed before our early rise the next morning and with a 290 km route planned around the more scenic areas of the Eastern Cape. We were excited to see how VW’s 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo engine would perform in varying situations,  as well as get up close and personal with the new interior and exterior design. I really like the Polo’s new look, even as base spec it gives off a somewhat sporty appearance. I do feel the front end may be the my least favourite area of the car, from a design point of view. This however is definitely improved with the addition of LED lighting system. In terms of specifications on the car, VW had the Beats edition and Comfortline models on offer for us and we headed out in the former first.

The Beats edition of the new Polo has two stand out features, with the first obviously being a 300-watt Beats Audio sound system. This leads us on to the second area in which the Polo beats differs – styling. Vibrant red trim, Beats styled seats and the odd Beats Logo will greet anyone entering the cabin and yes, the sound system packs a punch!

As with most things, practice makes perfect and VW’s 1.0-litre engine seems to be getting better and better. The 70kW provided gives a nice little punch and is quite a “gutsy” engine – if that is even a word. Highway driving might seem to provide the most worry for these little engines, but overtaking was a breeze and the 5-speed gearbox was just like an R&B/Soul song – smooth and easy. If you are wanting even more kick, there is a Highline 85kW option using the same 1.0-litre engine. Both the 70kW and 80kW engines are available with a DSG automatic gearbox. 

Too grown up for its own good?

The Polo has always been a small, fun city hatchback with renowned build quality. As time goes by and new models are released, these vehicles inherently get bigger in size and the New Volkswagen Polo is not excluded from this. It’s 8 cm longer and 7 cm wider, this extra space benefits the rear passenger area and the place where you put your bags on a road trip with an extra 70l to play with. Even still, the new Polo has not lost that all-important feel of nimbleness. Yes, it’s bigger, but it has not grown in height. If anything, the good road-holding and intimate feel that we all love, has not been lost but rather improved.

Another area where the New Volkswagen Polo impressed us most is technology. A clean dash features an integrated 8” touchscreen with VW’s latest Composition Media system, which is also found in the brand’s more expensive vehicles. Discover Navigation is also available as an option, but with Apple CarPlay integrated into the system, the navigation system is no longer something on the “need” list.

We were very impressed with VW for including their Active Info Display as an option in the new Polo. If you’re of what we’re referring to, the Active Info Display is a fully digital 12” display which replaces the classic dials which provide you which information on speed – such as fuel consumption, range etc. This digital option is customisable, meaning the driver can choose what information they want to be displayed, whether this be music, playlists, speed and even navigation. This system is a premium feature found on the new Golf, Passat and Tiguan range. This really sets the Polo apart in the A0 segment – although you will have to pay for it.

Other great technology and safety systems are on offer, such as the Park Assist Package. If you require, this system will parallel park you into a space which is just 80 cm longer than the vehicle itself. Added to that, it will also assist the driver is getting out of that same space if required. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Driver Alert System, Multi Collision Braking and Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator are also systems available to the Polo – providing yet more reasons to get behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s latest creation.

Overall it was another great event with a fantastic vehicle. The new Polo is refined in every area and provides an even better experience than the former car. It appeals very much to a younger generation of drivers who want the latest technology and want to be connected. That being said, the features available also make this car very appealing to someone who may be buying down from a more premium segment. Personally, my gut feel says the Polo Beats will do very well and it is my prefered choice from the models we sampled. The Beats naturally appeals to the younger generation as we all know who Dr.Dre is. Music lovers in general though and those who appreciate good quality audio will be impressed by the vehicle. The car ticks many boxes for many demographics. The stylish, the safety conscious, the youth and even parents with a healthy budget will enjoy this vehicle for their kids. Well done VW. You haven’t tried to fix something that was never broken to begin with.   

New Volkswagen Polo Pricing in South Africa

1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline                                     R 235 900

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline                                 R 264 700

1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG                         R 280 700

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline                                      R 286 200

1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG                              R 302 200

Also published on Medium.