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Is the Volkswagen Polo the new Golf? Supply and pricing put Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2 rival ahead of its larger sibling

In 2021 Volkswagen sold more examples of the Polo than they did the Golf.

For years the Golf has been Volkswagen’s top-selling passenger car in Australia. It has a rich history, dating back to the iconic first-generation model that launched in Australia in 1976.

It has an excellent reputation and has been a top-five seller in the small car segment for years.

Until 2021 that is. Last year Volkswagen sold just 1926 examples of the Golf in Australia. That’s not a monthly figure. That’s for the entire year, and it’s the lowest tally in decades. But it wasn’t because buyers have fallen out of love with the Golf.

The new-generation Golf Mk8 went on sale last year, coinciding with severe semiconductor shortages that had a serious impact on vehicles built at VW’s Wolfsburg plant in Germany.

Volkswagen Australia simply could not get any stock of the new one, and it had sold out of the previous-gen Mk7.5 Golf earlier in the year, leading to the massive sales decline. As a company spokesperson has said, if they had access to more Golfs in 2021, they absolutely would have sold them.

The new Golf also took a step up in price compared to its predecessor. VW no longer sells a base model version of the Golf, so the current range-opening grade (simply called Golf) is the new entry point.

When pricing was announced in February last year, the new opening gambit was $3500 more than the previous starting price. As of January this year, the manual Golf has been dropped and the range now starts from $32,790 before on-road costs.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf has been in short supply because of the semiconductor shortage. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf has been in short supply because of the semiconductor shortage.

As with competitors like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, and even the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cerato, all of which are pricier than their respective predecessors, the new Golf gained a whole host of new in-car multimedia and digital technology, updated safety gear and more.

At the same time, used-car sales have gone through the roof, so all of these things combined have forced buyers to look at more affordable new cars, and the Polo light hatch has benefited from this.

The Polo outsold the Golf last year for the first time ever, recording 5125 registrations which is 42.3 per cent more than 2020.

Polo is now the third best-selling model in the segment behind the dominant (and much cheaper) MG3 (13,774), and the Kia Rio (5644) and it outsold the Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift and Baleno, Mazda2 and its Skoda Fabia cousin.

The updated Polo hits Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2022. The updated Polo hits Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2022.

Buyers who opt for a Polo rather than waiting for a Golf will find a vehicle that is roughly the same size as a Golf Mk5 and is one of the most spacious vehicles in its class.

A big factor working in the Polo’s favour is supply. Unlike the Golf, the Polo is built at VW’s South African production facility and is unaffected by the semiconductor chip shortage. So don’t expect to wait long for a new Polo.

Pricing wise, don’t let the European badge fool you – it’s still good value.

It ranges from $21,790 before on-road costs for the 70TSI Trendline automatic – the two manual grades were recently dropped – and is available in 85TSI Comfortline and Style flavours too. It tops out at $32,890 for the spicy GTI.

The refreshed Polo gains an upgraded multimedia setup. The refreshed Polo gains an upgraded multimedia setup.

The pricing is more in line with the Suzuki Swift ($20,490-$29,990) than the Toyota Yaris ($23,740-$54,500).

The Polo is about to get even more compelling when the mid-life facelift rolls into showrooms in quarter two.

The update ushers in exterior styling tweaks for a more up-to-date look but big changes inside include a new steering wheel, digital instrument cluster and dashboard, and an upgraded multimedia system similar to the Golf.

Pricing and specification will be announced in the coming weeks, but it’s possible Polo pricing might increase, along with the updated standard features list.

Watch this space.