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Volkswagen Polo 2018 review: 70TSI Trendline

Can the Volkswagen Polo work for a family? Let’s find out.

Getting into a Polo is like visiting an old friend. You know they’re good value, fairly reliable, look great and you like the way they do things. But it’s been years since you’ve seen your old friend, and in those years you’ve... well, you’ve changed. 

You’ve had a baby. Maybe two. Possibly three. And your priorities are different. But does that mean your old friend won’t suit you anymore, or can they adapt if you choose to compromise because you like them so much? Can your life stage now fit the Polo

I drove the Trendline which is the base model (in a range of only two) for a whole week with my two kids in tow to test exactly this. Can the Volkswagen Polo work for a family? Let’s find out. 

How does it drive?

Fairly smoothly. The Polo is a nice, easy drive with plenty of zip factor, it zooms around town like you’re playing wing attack on a netball team, weaving in and out of traffic. So little! So zippy! Sure, it’s not as smooth as a more expensive car would be, but don’t take away from it - it’s definitely smooth enough.

It has a small 1.0-litre engine but it still has enough power to get me up hills. It's not the fastest car up the hill, but it gets there perfectly fine. It has good handling and a responsive steering wheel that is easy to turn, no arm workouts here, and there’s absolutely no heaviness when you drive it. It’s light all the way.

Despite the tiny 1.0-litre engine, the Polo has plenty of zip factor. Despite the tiny 1.0-litre engine, the Polo has plenty of zip factor.

Parking is a breeze because of the size and small turning circle - I have been fitting into tiny parks all over town this week, and there’s also a reverse parking camera to help. But I’m not sure I’d be comfortable in this car for a long road trip. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to endless roads and big trucks whizzing by, especially when travelling with children, and for road trips I would feel safer in a bigger car. That’s why the Polo would be great as a second family car, rather than the main family transport. 

How spacious is it?

So we all know it’s a small car, but can you fit two kids in there comfortably? I sure did. My children are aged four and six, and their child seats easily fit into the back with room to spare. I wouldn’t attempt a third child seat in there though, too squishy for everyday. 

But if you have a third child out of a car seat, or if you have no child seats, you’ll be okay with three in the back. I was also comfortable in the back (at 161cm).

I wouldn't attempt a third child seat, but I was comfortable in the back at 161cm. I wouldn't attempt a third child seat, but I was comfortable in the back at 161cm.

In the front there is plenty of headroom for both me and my 185cm husband. He did compromise on leg space though as the children were in the back, so he wasn't able to put his seat back all the way. Still, it wasn’t too bad and I was obviously fine. No concerns about legroom there! 

The boot is smaller than an SUV’s, yes, but at 351 litres it’s bigger than the old Polo’s boot and also now bigger than a Mazda 3’s boot. Still smaller than a Hyundai i30’s though. It will fit a pram but nothing else, and I would test your pram first before buying because all prams are different sizes. If you’re beyond pram stage you’ll find a load of groceries or schools bags are easy to fit, too. 

It's a smaller car, but the boot is bigger than the Mazda 3's. It's a smaller car, but the boot is bigger than the Mazda 3's.

How easy is it to use for everyday?

A small car has its advantages and disadvantages. So, while parking is easy and three-point turns are a breeze, there’s not much storage.

Parking and three-point turns are a breeze. Parking and three-point turns are a breeze.

In the front there’s a glove box, two cupholders and two bottle holders in the front doors. It has a spot in front of the gear stick to throw keys and a phone. The cupholders though, are small and I had to try and wedge my keep cup in there. Takeaway coffee cups, the ones that are bad for the environment and you shouldn’t use because they’re not recycleable, will fit however. 

In the back there are no cupholders, but there's a spot in each door that while not technically a bottle holder, will fit a small bottle.

The boot was easy to open once I discovered the VW badge on the back was a magic key. The height of the boot was actually fine to get groceries in and out for me. And while the car is lower than an SUV and it’s harder to do car seats up for the kids, I didn’t mind it so much. 

My children are getting to an age where they can sometimes do their own belts up, but if you’ve got a baby and you’re constantly in and out, always bending down and especially hoisting up a baby capsule out of the car multiple times a day, it might be worse for you.

What does it look like?

Nobody’s arguing the Polo has style. On the outside it’s sporty and cute, with just the right amount of sophistication. You feel good driving it because the car has spunk. 

This car has spunk. This car has spunk.

While it doesn’t have anything particularly luxurious on the inside, it still looks good because it’s well designed. There’s a high gloss finish around the multimedia screen which looks ace and nicely blends into a fairly ordinary centre console and gear stick section. 

The dash and doors are quite hard, but VW's cleverly added a leather steering wheel - and because this is the bit you touch, your hands are on it the whole time you drive, you are tricked into thinking you’re in much more luxurious car than you actually are. It worked on me every time.

Leather on the steering wheel feels premium. Leather on the steering wheel feels premium.

The seats are fabric but they are not a cheap fabric, ie. you can still wear shorts and it doesn’t feel scratchy on the legs. They’re also really comfortable seats, I had no complaints.

How safe is it?

The Trendline comes with a total of six airbags, with side curtain airbags extending to the back row. There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for children’s car seats. It also has more advanced safety features like auto emergency braking and a fatigue warning system. You can then option up to get things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert and park assist - where the car will park itself. This package is an extra $1400. The Polo has a five star ANCAP rating.

What’s the tech like?

Plug your phone in for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and be instantly connected to your phone’s main apps like Spotify and maps. There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen which is huge for a small car (and on par with the i30), plus Bluetooth connectivity and a six speaker stereo with decent sound.

There's an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

There’s no sat nav on the car’s system but with CarPlay or Auto, you don’t need it as they will connect to either Apple maps or Google maps. 

How much does it cost to run?

Here’s the good bit, the Polo Trendline comes in at $20,490 for the auto version, which is a drive-away price. Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.0 litres for every 100km, which is low, even for a small car. You will need 95 premium unleaded in it though. 

The Polo is covered by Volkswagen’s three year/100,000km warranty and it will need servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.


The Wrap

For a brand new car with European styling, this Polo is well priced. You might not get all the swanky bells and whistles of a more expensive car, but you get the great design, a feel good factor, and it really will fit a family of four. Five maybe - if they’re out of car seats and don't mind sitting close together. There’s no huge boot like an SUV, but you’re in a Polo so it’s hardly a surprise, plus it’s big for its class.

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10, taking points off for the size. My kids were a bit harsher than me this time round, they gave it a 7.0 - their expectations on technology are getting out of control!

Likes

Exterior & interior design
Fuel consumption
Handling and steering

Dislikes

Size for a family
Lack of storage

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.5

$12,980 - $17,270

Based on third party pricing data

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