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Volkswagen Polo 2018 review: Launch Edition

EXPERT RATING
8.5
The new VW Polo is bigger than it's ever been before, stretching the boundaries of a "city car" with its cabin space and luggage room. So is the smallest VW now big enough to work as a family car?

Volkswagen's baby Polo is all grown up. And I mean that literally; this all-new Polo is bigger in every conceivable dimension.

But is it big enough to double as a family car? For my weekend test, I’m driving the top-spec Polo 85TSI Launch Edition, priced at $22,900. For that money, there's plenty of standard kit to get excited about. Think 16-inch rims, fog lights, tinted windows and LED taillights, as well as a wireless charging station for your compatible phone. 

So, does bigger mean better? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.   

Saturday

Suitably dressed in 'Energetic Orange' paint (a $500 option) this sixth-generation Polo is definitely better looking then its predecessor. Its front-on profile presents a wider, sportier small-car stance.

Sitting on nice 16-inch alloys, the side profile is simple and clean,with the roof line tapering nicely towards the boot. You really can’t help thinking you're looking at a (slightly) smaller Golf.

The side profile is simple and clean,with the roof line tapering nicely towards the boot. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The side profile is simple and clean,with the roof line tapering nicely towards the boot. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Our Saturday schedule kicked off with my son and daughter's soccer match, their first of the season. The away game gave us the opportunity to put the Polo to its very first test; Saturday-morning traffic.    

The kids and I piled into the Polo to discover quite a smart-looking cabin. The clean and simple design treatment is highlighted by the smart 8.0-inch touchscreen that takes centre stage. The seats are draped in cloth and provide plenty of comfort, front and rear.

The clean and simple designed cabin treatment is highlighted by the smart 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The clean and simple designed cabin treatment is highlighted by the smart 8.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

The backseat provided plenty of space for three kids, or two adults (but it would be a squash for three). Sitting behind my driving seat (I’m 180cm) there was about four-fingers worth of space between my knees and the seat in front, and the same again for head space. With no cup holders in the rear, the kids made use of the bottle holders in the doors instead. There is little else back there to keep them company, though, with no air vents, USB connections or power sources.

The backseat provided plenty of space for three kids, or two adults. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The backseat provided plenty of space for three kids, or two adults. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Up front, there are two cup holders adjacent to the centre console storage bin. Our Launch Edition also scores a wireless charging station for compatible smartphones. But with iPhones requiring a special case, I ended up using it as another storage area. 

The cheap and hard plastics peppered throughout the cabin are offset by some nice touches, including a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and a digital display in the driver's binnacle. 

Around the suburban back streets, the Polo was an absolute pleasure to drive. The ride was incredibly compliant and comfortable over every pothole, lump and bump. Around corners, it felt planted and light.

What’s more, the Saturday morning soundtrack of traffic was largely locked out of our serene cabin. Impressive. In fact, there nothing that rattled its composure as it passed the Saturday morning traffic test with flying colours. 

The Polo spent the rest of the day hauling the four of us around to the park and local shops. Its larger dimensions don't hurt it in cramped spaces, with the reversing camera and parking sensors helping to make parking of any sort a breeze.   

Sunday

Our schedule today included a picnic and then a trip down to the beach for a walk and ice cream.  

The engine is the one area where this next generation Polo has not grown. Our 85TSI Launch Edition is powered by turbocharged 1.0 litre, three-cylinder engine which provides modest outputs of 85kW at 5000rpm and 200Nm at 2000rpm. Matched with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, the front-wheel-drive Polo will accelerate to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds.

The turbocharged 1.0 litre, three-cylinder engine produces 85kW/200Nm. The turbocharged 1.0 litre, three-cylinder engine produces 85kW/200Nm.

There is a reasonable amount of urgency from a standing start with little turbo lag. Even with a car full of kids and the air-conditioning on, this car pulls away smartly and can be counted on to get up hills without skipping a beat. Gear changes from the DSG are intuitive with no noticeable hesitation or laziness when tackling the stop-start driving of suburban traffic.

A further benefit of Polo’s inflated size is the 71 litres of additional boot space (now 351 litres total with seats up), which came in very handy as we loaded it up with picnic gear, games and bags. With seats folded flat, there’s 1125 litres on offer.

 With the rear seats up there is 351 litres of boot space. (image credit: Dan Pugh) With the rear seats up there is 351 litres of boot space. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

The Polo is strong on safety, too, with six airbags including driver and passenger head and side airbags, as well as full-length curtain airbags covering the front and rear seats. For parents of little ones, there are three child restraint top tethers across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.

Added to this safety mix is AEB with pedestrian detection, plus a fatigue-warning system and a tyre-pressure monitor, hill-start assist and the usual suite of braking and traction features like ESP. 

Our petrol-sipping (95 RON) Polo covered around 250km of mainly urban driving, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption figure of 5.8 litres per 100km. It might be slightly above VW’s claimed 5.0 litres per 100km, yet it’s a figure I’d be more than happy to live with. 

Verdict

This super-sized Polo has grown in all the right places, proving, in this case, that bigger is definitely better. If the driving experience and extra space don't grab your attention, then its price certainly should. If you're in the market for a second family car, the Polo deserves to be on your shortlist.

Would you take a Volkswagen Polo for a family car over larger hatchback or SUV? Let us know in the comments.

Pricing Guides

$23,450
Based on 319 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$17,380
Highest Price
$43,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
66 TSI Trendline 1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $12,980 – 17,270 2018 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2018 66 TSI Trendline Pricing and Specs
70 TSI TRENDLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $17,490 – 22,007 2018 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2018 70 TSI TRENDLINE Pricing and Specs
70TSI TRENDLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $17,990 – 20,657 2018 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2018 70TSI TRENDLINE Pricing and Specs
85 TSI COMFORTLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $19,998 – 29,290 2018 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2018 85 TSI COMFORTLINE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.5
Dan Pugh
Marketing Director

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