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Volkswagen Polo Beats 2019 review

The Polo Beats: A stylish brand alignment, or just a big-name beat-up?
EXPERT RATING
7.4
This Polo might not be as shouty as a pair of Beats headphones, but can it deliver on its big aural promise?

For a big-name brand crossover, you have to appreciate this car’s restraint.

I mean, have you seen a pair of Beats headphones? I see them all the time, on the bus, at the gym, jogging past me as I sit in traffic…

Point is, the always overly-colourful Dr. Dre-branded creations are themselves wearable marketing beacons, nearly impossible to miss, and that’s how the fans like it.

So, the fact that a few small logos and a pinstripe sticker are the only overtly identifiable ‘Beats’ features on this Polo’s exterior is almost impressive. I think it speaks more to Volkswagen’s restraint.

Will it be enough to convince serial Beats fans, though? Oh, and more importantly, what’s the audio system actually like?

Read on to find out.

Volkswagen Polo 2019: BEATS
Safety rating
Engine Type1.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$24,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

While the ‘Beats’ brand has a bit of a reputation for being a little more expensive than it perhaps needs to be, the Polo Beats is, again, reasonably restrained. 

The Beats edition car costs $24,990 or $3000 more than the regular Polo 85TSI Comfortline on which it's based.

There are some rather good inclusions over the standard car though. The Beats edition scores VW’s amazing looking 10.25-inch gloss-finish multimedia touchscreen, LED tail and fog lights, ‘Active Info Display’ digital instrument cluster, 16-inch ‘Torsby’ design alloy wheels, built-in sat-nav and a ‘Qi’ wireless phone charging bay.

The Beats scores some rather good standard inclusions, like that massive touchscreen. The Beats scores some rather good standard inclusions, like that massive touchscreen.

Not bad tech additions. Of course, being a brand crossover, there is a red and white sticker pinstripe across the bonnet and roof, as well as beats logos located on the outside of the B-pillar, on the inside of the A-pillar, on the door sills, and on the seats.

The subtle exterior editions are at odds with the bespoke interior trim which is only one step away from a cherries and cream overload. Not everyone will love it.

Those features add to the standard 85TSI Comfortline’s leather-bound shift-lever and steering wheel, heated, folding and adjustable wing-mirrors with LED indicators, ‘comfort’ seats, auto dusk sensing headlights as well as DAB+ digital radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

A let down to the standard spec are the halogen headlight clusters. LEDs or at least xenons would be welcome.

Halogen headlights dent the otherwise modern looking exterior. Halogen headlights dent the otherwise modern looking exterior.

The Beats’ 300-watt sound system is certainly better than the kind of standard sound systems in most cars. It has a nice depth to it, especially in the base area, and the clarity is excellent even at high volumes. I couldn’t get it to become too trebly or distort either – common problems with cheap car audio. 

It is seriously loud though - even at half the available volume - so unless you’re planning on hosting a bush doof or something, I’m not sure how you can even use most of the audio system’s potential…

The Beats audio is discernibly better than most car audio systems at this price. The Beats audio is discernibly better than most car audio systems at this price.

Not a bad bit of kit for $25k, really.

But wait. There’s a slight catch. If you’re not in love with all the ‘Beats’ bits (understandable), you can option the 85TSI Comfortline or GTI to have the upgraded media screen, Beats audio system, sat nav and wireless charging kit as part of the ‘Sound and Vision Package’ for $1900. 

If you’re like me and are capable of rudimentary math, you’ll have figured out this means the Beats styling touches and bespoke alloys are setting you back $1100. Food for thought.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Subtlety is VW’s strong point and, as I mentioned earlier, the Beats has plenty of it. At least on the outside. Preserved is all the panache of the Polo’s design with its angular sides and nicely rounded edges. The 17-inch wheels on the Beats suit the car well, with the black highlights complimenting the angular black bits in the front grille.

VW has admirably restrained the Beats from becoming a brand overload. VW has admirably restrained the Beats from becoming a brand overload.

Outside of the wheels, the Beats kit is limited to just a simple decal across the bonnet and roof, as well as a few logos strewn about. Thankfully (or, perhaps not for the Beats target audience…), you’d be hard-pressed to spot them unless you knew it was a Beats edition.

It is genuinely difficult to tell the Beats edition apart from its regular Polo counterparts. This could be a good or bad thing depending on the buyer... It is genuinely difficult to tell the Beats edition apart from its regular Polo counterparts. This could be a good or bad thing depending on the buyer...

Inside is a different story. It strays from VW’s normally grey-on-black aesthetic, introducing off-whites, vibrant reds and even mild blues in the seat trim, dash insert and doors. Some will see this as a bit of fun. Many will see this as a bit too much.

Regardless, the 10.25-inch multimedia system - which is class leading in a car this size - looks amazing. It really classes up an already slick interior, and seamlessly blends in with the piano-black inner segment of the dash.

The class-leading touchscreen elevates the look and feel of the cabin. The class-leading touchscreen elevates the look and feel of the cabin.

As with most VW products, the Polo’s switchgear is excellent. It’s the small things like the feel of the dials and buttons which elevate it above Japanese, Korean or even other European rivals. The placement of everything is also just about perfect ergonomically. If I have one complaint, it’s that the volume knob is a bit of a reach for the driver, who has volume controls on the steering wheel anyway.

For all the nice trim bits across the dash, the Polo does have some average feeling hard plastics in the doors and down the centre console. The analogue handbrake also seems at odds with the otherwise slick design, but that’s not unusual for a car in this class.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

It’s not really Beats specific, but the Polo’s voluminous interior betrays its small dimensions. It’s easy to forget you're actually inside a small car, as the interior basically feels as spacious as a Golf did a generation ago.

It starts with the seating position. You can sit super close to the floor in the Polo. It’s a sporty seating arrangement and doesn’t detract from the car’s great visibility.

The interior is spacious with decent storage, but the cherries & cream styling of the Beats may be a turn-off for some. The interior is spacious with decent storage, but the cherries & cream styling of the Beats may be a turn-off for some.

Front passengers also benefit from generous storage areas in the doors, smallish cupholders in the centre console and a small centre console box. Pride of place is the Qi wireless phone charger under the air conditioning controls, in a little bay which also houses two USB ports.

In the back, the magic dimensions of the Polo continue. Despite all the room afforded to forward passengers, rear passengers still have more than decent leg, arm and headroom. There are well-sized storage areas in the doors, as well as pockets on the back of the front seats, but there’s no air conditioning vents or drop-down arm rest.

The premium feel of the interior tricked me into expecting better amenities like air vents for back seat passengers. The premium feel of the interior tricked me into expecting better amenities like air vents for back seat passengers.

In terms of interior room, only the Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent come close in this class, but the Korean hatches aren’t as nice to be in as the Polo.

Boot space is also a strong point. The Polo’s boot is so large it outplays competitors in a segment up.

The boot size is stellar for the segment, but the Beats loses the adjustable floor. The boot size is stellar for the segment, but the Beats loses the adjustable floor.

VW posts the boot size at 351 litres which is decidedly larger than European competitors like the Renault Clio (300L) and Peugeot 208 (311L). It is put in its place by the Hyundai Accent with its gigantic 370L boot, however.

With the rear seats down space maxes out at 1125L, which is actually smaller than many competitors, plus the extra features of the Beats variant deletes the variable boot floor feature. 

Despite the good size with the rear seats up, the Polo falls behind with them down. Despite the good size with the rear seats up, the Polo falls behind with them down.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The Beats shares the same 85kW/200Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine with the 85TSI Comfortline. 

Power-wise it is about on par with the competition, most of which hover around the 80-90kW mark, and our car was the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic version (there is also a six-speed manual available).

The 1.0-litre three cylinder is on-par power wise, but underwhelming in reality. The 1.0-litre three cylinder is on-par power wise, but underwhelming in reality.

It doesn’t feel as willing as many of its competitors however, possibly due to a decent amount of turbo-lag. Once it gets up and going, however, it’s quick in a straight line.

All Polos are also fitted with a stop-start system which turns off too quickly and is slow to start up again. I almost always turned it off as I found it at best irritating, and at worst dangerous at some intersections where a few extra seconds make all the distance.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Volkswagen claims all those complicated engine parts help the Polo achieve a 4.9L/100km fuel usage number for combined city and highway driving

Over my week of switching off the stop-start system and putting my foot to the floor in some scenarios to get the Polo up to speed I scored 7.0L/100km. I honestly believe with more time to get used to the nuances of the engine and transmission that number could be reduced, but for the week it was a solid miss for me.

The Polo asks for a minimum of 95RON unleaded.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

It’s a mixed bag with the Polo. I’ll start with the good. 

The suspension is incredible. It rides low and sporty, but it’s never harsh. On multiple occasions I found myself cringing when spotting a pothole too late, but then coming out the other side pleasantly surprised that it barely had an affect in the cabin. It rides super flat and sticky in the corners as well. You can really feel the wheels all the way at the edge of the chassis.

Then, there’s the steering. It’s light, but purposeful. It could use perhaps a little more feedback, feeling slightly over (electrically) assisted, but the small three-spoke wheel gives it a fun, and genuinely sporty feel.

The digital dash adds to the slick nature of the drive experience. It has an excellent frame-rate and customisable features. The digital dash adds to the slick nature of the drive experience. It has an excellent frame-rate and customisable features.

Sadly, the great feel of the car is let down by the drivetrain. The 1.0-litre turbo is prone to lag, forcing you to wait a second or two before the peak torque arrives at 2000rpm. It’s especially irritating having to wait a full second for power when you’re trying to overtake or slip into a gap in traffic at a T-junction.

The delay encourages you to push your foot further into the floor, which results in a sudden shunt of power when all the moving parts figure out how to work together. 

Most competitors are much smoother when it comes to taking off from a standstill. The stop-start system adds even more of a delay to this equation. I honestly tried to embrace it but ended up just turning it off at the first opportunity.

Once up and running though, the seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch auto is a slick-shifter, gear changes are imperceptible.

Ironically for a ‘Beats’ model, the Polo is incredibly quiet. Aside from a distant gruff rumble under heavy acceleration, you’d be hard pressed to pick the three-cylinder’s engine note out from background noise. The cabin is well insulated as well, helping you make the most of that audio system.

The drive experience all feels very refined, I just wish it were a little more responsive to inputs…

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The latest Polo carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of Feburary 2018 thanks to the presence of auto emergency braking (AEB).

The Polo’s AEB system works at city speeds of up to 30km/h and can monitor for pedestrians as well as vehicles.

In terms of active safety, that’s about it for standard fittings in the Polo. However, the $1400 ‘Driver Assistance Package’ adds adaptive cruise control with 'stop & go' function, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) rear city-speed AEB, auto park assist, front & rear parking sensors and something called the ‘proactive occupant protection system’. 

Sounds like it’s well worth the extra cash to me. Our car did not have the pack fitted.

Standard is this nifty, well hidden reversing camera. Standard is this nifty, well hidden reversing camera.

In terms of the regular refinements, the Polo has six airbags, the regular electronic stability tech and the addition of Hill Start Assist.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

Volkswagen has recently updated its capped price servicing plans which are sold up-front as a package to new buyers. 

A three-year servicing plan for the Polo is $1152 ($384 a year) while a five-year plan is $2164 ($432.80 a year). Still expensive.

The company also isn’t budging on its outdated three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Almost all its competitors and even fully-owned subsidiary, Skoda, have moved to five-year/unlimited kilometre cover.

Volkswagen won't budge on its three-year warranty promise, although it does occasionally offer five-year plans on a limited basis. Volkswagen won't budge on its three-year warranty promise, although it does occasionally offer five-year plans on a limited basis.

If it’s a long warranty you’re after the Kia Rio’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre one is the bar to beat in this segment.

Verdict

The Beats adds a certain stylish but restrained appeal to the already very smart Polo, but with the ‘Sound and Vision Package’ adding most of the good bits to other Polo variants like the branded 300w sound system for $1100 less, you have to ask yourself if you want to stand out from the crowd a little with the extra aesthetic touches.

As for the car part of the equation it’s a well-priced, practical and slick German small hatch, complete with one of the best multimedia offerings in the segment. However, it is let down slightly by an over-complicated drivetrain and a lacklustre ownership proposition.

Would you consider the Beats over a regular Polo with the optional multimedia package? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$25,390
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$18,790
Highest Price
$31,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
70 TSI TRENDLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $21,290 2019 Volkswagen Polo 2019 70 TSI TRENDLINE Pricing and Specs
70TSI TRENDLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $20,490 2019 Volkswagen Polo 2019 70TSI TRENDLINE Pricing and Specs
85 TSI COMFORTLINE 1.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $22,790 2019 Volkswagen Polo 2019 85 TSI COMFORTLINE Pricing and Specs
85 TSI STYLE 1.0L, PULP $24,990 2019 Volkswagen Polo 2019 85 TSI STYLE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership6
Tom White
Journalist

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