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Polo plays it smart


There's only one parking space left, you see. And it's got my name on it. At least it's got the name of my VW Polo on it.

This is a great little car; "little" being the operative word. And the car park? It's a nightmare spot wedged in between a big cement pole and the up ramp. No way would I attempt it in any other car.

It still takes a bit of manoeuvring – after all, I've only had the car a day – but in she goes. Fits like a glove. So close, in fact, that when I lift the hatch to get my bag out, there is a very close encounter with the roof.

Needless to say, the Polo handles beautifully. Steering is easy, and she has a tiny turning circle and great visibility.

As for her other qualities, this little GTI is the Sporty Spice of the Polo group.

Bright red with black and red-trim interior, she's also fashion-conscious. Blue dash lights give her a distinctive look after dark and she comes armed with an impressive list of accessories: eight-speaker CD player, one-touch indicators (a slight tap will give three automatic blinks for quick lane changes), extra indicator lights on the side mirrors, a groovy honeycomb radiator grille, six airbags, self-lighting vanity mirrors, three cup holders (watch out for the flip-open version in the front), sunroof and the all-important butt warmers.

"Pocket rocket", "slingshot", whatever you want to call her, the Polo GTI can move.

Beware if your teenage son wants one. She looks harmless enough but behind the "cute" exterior is a 1.8-litre turbo engine that can reach 216km/h and can leap to 100km/h in just 8.2 seconds. That's a lot of power in a little package. But she doesn't cost much to run.

On the open road, the Polo can hold her own. Again the power sees her climb hills with ease and, despite her diminutive size, she doesn't feel flighty on the highway.

Like her body, everything inside the Polo comes in "mini" version. It's a tight fit – especially in the back seat where there are belts for three people but room, really, for just two (unless you're tiny).

There is one big component on the Polo. Her booty, sorry, boot. It will take a week's worth of grocery shopping and at least an afternoon's worth of clothes bargains. In typical sports style, her seats hug passengers.

But in a car so small, this can be a problem. The arm supports tend to get in the way of gear changes ... or is that just because I'm short and need the seat pulled so far forward?

One last concern; when will they learn not to have the indicator and high-beam controls on the left of the steering wheel in manual cars? Trying to manage both and change gears has to be a safety issue, doesn't it?

LOVE IT LEAVE IT

Volkswagen Polo GTI Turbo

Price: $30,320 (on road)

LOVE IT

Power and panache.

Blue dash lights look great and are easy to read.

LEAVE IT

Still can't get used to high-beam control, indicator and gear stick being on the left side of the steering column. Has to be a safety issue in Australia doesn't it?

It's quite a noisy ride – there's a drone in the back that drowns out even the cranked-up stereo.

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