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Volkswagen Polo Beats 2017 review

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Polo Beats with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the new Volkswagen Polo Beats with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Yes, you can get limited edition art, books, even fridges, but nobody does a limited edition better than the car industry, and the Volkswagen Polo Beats is part of a long tradition of automotive special versions. 

Virtually all brands do it and if you can tie in a famous name, then even better. Japan had a Hello Kitty Mitsubishi Mirage, China had the Mercedes-AMG G63 Crazy Wild, South Korea had the Hyundai Genesis Prada, France had a Bic Biro Citroen and in the US there was the Nissan Rogue One Star Wars edition

In Australia we’ve had Rip Curl versions of the Ford Falcon and Citroen Cactus, the Carla Zampatti Ford Laser, Sportsgirl Holden Barina and Peter Brock tribute editions of the final Aussie Commodores, among a multitude of others. 

Volkswagen is particularly enthusiastic when it comes to special editions. There’s been the Golf Rolling Stones, Golf Adidas, the electric guitar inspired Beetle Fender, and now the Polo Beats.

Beats as in Beats by Dre. Don’t know what this means? Then maybe a second-hand Golf Bon Jovi might be a better choice for somebody as … experienced as you. Seriously, there is one.

Limited to a run of only 400, the 'Beats' is based on the Polo 81TSI which sits between the base-spec 66TSI Trendline and the sporty GTI.

So what makes it a Beats Polo? Is it worth forking out more for it than a regular Polo? Is there any resale value advantage to a limited edition? And how does it compare to its rivals such as the Mazda2?

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Polo Beats is 3972mm end to end, which would seem enormous if that was the length of the shark that just nudged your surfboard, but it’s small for a car. Actually, it’s smaller than small. Factor in a width of 1682mm and height of just 1453mm, and it’s officially a 'light' car.

There is no other car in this segment that looks quite as stylish and premium as the Polo.

The Polo might look just like its Golf hatch big brother, but being 320mm shorter in length and 116mm narrower the Polo is a whole lot smaller.

There is no other car in this segment that looks quite as stylish and premium as the Polo. The Beats edition adds contrasting coloured door mirrors, door decals and the Beats logo on the B-Pillars – yup like on the headphones. Darkened taillights, gloss black radiator grille and 16-inch 'Syenit' alloy wheels complete the look.   

The best of the Beats edition styling is inside with ‘shooting star’ quilted-style cloth upholstered seats with Alcantara side bolsters, red-stitched seat belts and Beats-badged stereo speakers and a 'Beats Audio' door sill scuff plate.  

Does the look work? Well, to be honest I found it a bit embarrassing driving around with the little ‘b’ of the Beats logo on the B-Pillar, and found myself sinking into my seat in traffic.

Our test car's colour was Flash Red (Pearl Effect), which is a no-cost option. 

The Polo Beats, like all Volkswagens, has a higher quality build feel that almost all its rivals.

How practical is the space inside?

Whatever you do, don’t consider the Polo and the Golf as interchangeable in terms of practicality – they’re not. Here’s a good example. I’m 191cm tall and can sit behind my driving position in the Golf, but can’t fit my legs behind the front seat in the Polo Beats.

The Polo has five seat belts, but that centre back position is going to be squeezy for adult humans. 

Luggage capacity in the Polo Beats is 280 litres, which is 100 litres less than the Golf. Compared to its light car rivals it’s 30 litres more than the Mazda2, 70 litres larger than the Suzuki Swift, but 70 litres smaller than the Toyota Yaris’s cargo area.

There are three cup holders on board – one flip-out type in the back and two up front. The front doors have contoured pockets for medium-sized bottles.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Polo Beats with a manual gearbox lists for $20,690 and you’ll pay another $3500 for the automatic transmission which makes it $2000 more than the 81TSI Comfortline it’s based on.

What do you get for the extra $2K? Well those seats, the 16-inch alloys, the door stickers, and the honour of wearing the Beats badge? Okay, there’s also a 300W Beats sound system with two tweeters, two woofers, a sub-woofer, two full-range speakers and an eight-channel amplifier. But wait, the Polo Beats also comes with a pair of Beats Solo2 headphones worth about $200. 

The rest of the Polo Beats standard equipment list is the same as the Comfortline’s and includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, rear view camera, power front and rear windows, LED ambient interior lighting and halogen headlights. 

The Polo Beats price competes well with its rivals. A top-of-the-range Mazda2 Genki with an auto goes for $22,690, a Suzuki Swift GLX SE is $21,690, and a Toyota Yaris ZR is $21,920. Don’t forget you’re paying a two grand premium on top of the 81 TSI’s $21,190. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Polo Beats is powered by a 81kW/175Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. There’s a choice of six-speed manual gearbox and a seven speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

A 0-100km/h time of 9.3 seconds isn’t bad for an engine this small.

There are no diesels in the Australian Polo line-up.

How much fuel does it consume?

You’ll need to use premium unleaded (95 RON) and Volkswagen says this Polo will need an average of 4.9L/100km with the manual gearbox or 4.8L/100km with the auto transmission during combined driving conditions. 

Our test car had the auto and the figure was quite a bit higher at 10.2L/100km, but that was mainly because it was city driving and I’m a lead foot.

What's it like to drive?

I went straight from a Volkswagen Multivan Generation Six, which I could get dressed in while standing, to the Polo Beats, which was so tiny in comparison I felt like I was wearing it.

Having to get on my knees in the gutter to put my squirming toddler into his car seat made it pretty clear the Polo is probably better for parents whose children have left home, or for the children who are doing the leaving. More likely the latter given it’s the Beats special edition.

Being a bit of an anti-label bloke meant I struggled with the Beats branding on the outside of the car. I felt like I should have been pulling up in a mall and handing out free samples of headphones.

Thankfully the marketing gods have also installed an excellent Beats sound system. Connecting my phone through Apple Carplay was easy and streamed music - while compressed - sounded clear and natural. Well, as much as psychobilly bootleg material can anyway. 

Driving the car I found the handling impressive, while my wife wasn’t a fan of the firmer ride. The regular Polo 81TSI has 15-inch wheels shod with a thicker, more cushioning tyre, while the Beats features 16-inch rims wearing a low profile (215/45 R16 Continental ContiPremiumContact 2) tyre known for being harder.

This wheel and tyre combination and torsion beam suspension in the rear made the Polo Beats jolt when we ran over those little speedbumps in carparks. Any rough surfaces on the road were also felt pretty clearly. If it was mine I’d keep the wheels and change the tyres to something that’d offer a comfier ride.

That said, lateral grip from the tyres is excellent and the Polo Beats, though not very grunty, was fun to drive through twisty roads (on my own).

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Polo scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2011 and as the Polo Beats is the same car – it has the same score.

While advanced safety features such as AEB are not standard on the Polo Beats you can add it to your car as part of the 'Driving Comfort' package.

For child seats there are three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Polo Beats is covered by Volkswagen’s three-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and servicing is recommended every 12months/15,000km.

Volkswagens typically command higher servicing fees than their Japanese rivals, and prices for the Polo Beats are capped at $413 for the first visit, $611 for the next, $478 for the third, $854 for the fourth and $413 for the fifth service. 

Special editions generally hold their value better than the cars they’re based on because they are often better equipped, and most used car buyers are likely to recognise this higher worth. But don’t expect all special editions to become collector’s items just because they're part of a limited run.

Pricing Guides

Based on 82 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

66 TSI Trendline 1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $12,290 – 14,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2017 66 TSI Trendline Pricing and Specs
81 TSI Comfortline 1.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $13,495 – 16,895 2017 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2017 81 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
BEATS 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $11,660 – 15,510 2017 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2017 BEATS Pricing and Specs
GTi 1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $20,950 – 25,990 2017 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 2017 GTi Pricing and Specs
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist