VW Polo 1.4 – Review

vw polo 1.4 side

By Liam Bird

It’s sometimes refreshing when a press car arrives without having been fitted with a whole host of options. OK, I’ll admit, I’ve happily warmed myself in a heated seat or two on a chilly morning – in some cases I’ve even used the massage function and the heated steering wheel too. But think about it: After the initial novelty of first use, how often do you actually use some of the stuff the brochure tempted us to fork-out extra for? I’ve had cruise control on my daily driver for the last three years: I’ve never switched it on. Does a deep-pile boot carpet or a go-faster stripe really make a difference, or add value come trade-in time?

vw polo 1.4 frontA couple of weeks ago I found myself perusing a list of extra goodies, or perhaps not-so-goodies, fitted to a BMW, the cost of which alone far exceeded the purchase price of the new VW Polo  that I’ve been driving this week (only optional extra fitted: Mayan Blue paint, £255).

What’s that, there’s a new VW Polo?

“Extras from an executive saloon”

There certainly is, although I’ll forgive you for not having noticed it. Let’s just say, externally at least, the changes are far more evolutionary than they are revolutionary. You have to be pretty eagle-eyed to notice the new LED running lamps and accompanying chrome strip. And I challenge anyone to spot the 2mm increase in length.

vw polo 1.4 insideNow, before we go any further don’t go thinking, despite my introduction, that the new Polo is in any way frugally appointed. The 1.4 SE TDi that Volkswagen were kind enough to send me came with the kind of luxuries that just three or four years ago would’ve cost extra on many an executive saloon.

Bluetooth comes as standard these days, as does a DAB and 5” touchscreen. There’s a leather rimmed steering wheel, Isofix, Stop/Start and Hill-hold all put in an appearance, and needless to say there’s a whole host of electronic acronyms such as EBD, HBA, ESC, EDL and ASR too.

“It’s relaxed”

Sadly (or was that a sigh of relief?) there simply isn’t enough space to explain them all; however the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System that’s also now standard-fit is definitely worthy of mention. By automatically applying the brakes should you be unfortunate enough to experience an accident, it significantly reduces the chance of any further impact or injury. Hopefully, like the Polo’s full-size spare wheel – a rarity these days – you’ll never need to use it, nevertheless it’s very reassuring to know it’s there.

The Polo’s sense of solidity is also rather comforting. Shut the door and what instantly becomes apparent is just how well insulated and well put-together this little car is. Even in 75 bhp thrummy three cylinder diesel form, VW’s second-best seller feels remarkably refined. It’s not quick; 0-62 takes 12.9 seconds, but, once up to speed it’s relaxed and torquey nature, together with the promise of 83mpg, means it feels like it could go on forever.

vw polo rear

“Quality of build”

It’s that relaxed nature, in fact, that defines the whole Polo driving experience. This is not a car in which to seek out your favourite B-road just for the hell of it. There’s more body roll than you might expect from a modern day hatch, the seats are a little flat – you sit on them rather than in them – and the steering, although light and direct, is hardly the most communicative of systems.

Ultimately though, that’s not the Polo’s USP. Its attraction lies in the quality of build, its refinement, its badge, and the rock-solid residuals that go with all three. Buy a Fiesta or a Swift Sport instead if you want to be “entertained”, but as always the Polo remains the (very) sensible choice.

Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDi SE 75
1.4 litre 3Cyl 12V Diesel turbo
Transmission: 5 speed Manual, Front wheel drive
Power: 75 bhp @ 3000 – 3750pm
Torque: 154 lbft @ 1500 – 2000rpm
0-62 MPH: 12.9 sec
Max Speed: 107 mph
CO2: 88g/km
MPG: 83.1 combined
Price: from £14,020


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