Volkswagen is running hot in Australia at the moment, particularly with sales of the evergreen Golf. Not content with that, VW Australia is keen to join the sales fray with the Golf’s smaller brother, the Polo.

The light-car segment in Australia is dominated by cars from Korean and Japanese makers, selling at pretty low prices, so VW Australia trimmed it prices a few months back. Already sales seem to be on an upward path so we borrowed a Polo for a week to reacquaint ourselves with the little German machine.

Note that Polo is again the smallest Volkswagen in Australia, the interesting up! didn’t appeal to Australian buyers and has been removed from the sales list downunder. Hopefully, only temporarily, because we love the styling and driving ability of the up!.


VW Polo’s styling is neat and tidy, with revisions to the front and rear that see it with slightly sharper lines. New wheel designs are part of the updated shape and some extra colours have been added to the body and trim brochures.

The interior is simple and functional, with instruments that are easy to see and controls that fall easily to hand.

The little Volkswagen’s looks are likely to remain timeless, something that usually helps resale values.


Volkswagen Polo has a 5.0-inch touch screen giving access to AM/FM radio, a CD player. There’s an Aux socket, an SD card slot and the system is compatible with MP3 and WMA music files.

Polo Comfortline, but not the Trendline, can be specified with a $1500 Driving Comfort Package with Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Fatigue Detection System, Front Assist with City Emergency Brake function, automatic windscreen wipers and a rear view camera.

There’s also a Sport Package, again at $1500, with lowered suspension, Mirabeau 17-inch wheels, dark tinted rear side window and rear window glass, front foglights with static cornering function.

The biggest change to the MY15 Volkswagen Polo is the introduction of two versions of the 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine we have come to love in other recent Volkswagens.

In the lower cost Comfortline models the little turbo engine provides 66 kilowatts of power and 160 Newton metres of torque. Torque is at its peak from just 1400 revs and remains there all the way through to 3500 revs. Most drivers will find themselves with top torque virtually all the time.

The upmarket Polo Trendline version has the same 1.2-litre engine, except that it’s tuned to provide 81 kW of power and 175 Nm of torque. The latter again reaches its peak at just 1400 rpm but now stays there till the engine is turning at 4000 rpm.

Polo 66 TSI is offered with a five-speed manual, whereas the 81 TSI has a six-speed. Both are offered with the option of a seven-speed DSG double-clutch automatic.

A five-star ANCAP safety rating has been obtained with ease thanks to a strong body and electronic stability aids. The Sport Package adds further crash prevention and/or minimisation items.

Volkswagen Polo handles in a dynamic European fashion, something that gives it a handy edge over its European rivals. It corners at much higher speeds than are likely to be attempted by most owners.

At the limit there’s safe understeer and the Polo is backed by electronic aids to further help the driver keep it safely under control.

Electro-mechanical steering has been fitted to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. It’s one of the better EPS (electric power steering) systems, with reasonably direct feedback.

The front seats support nicely, including under the thighs. The seating position is relatively high to provide for extra legroom for those in the back seats, this is barely noticeable, and certainly not as aggressively high as in one of Polo’s chief European competitors, the cute little Italian Fiat 500.

We feel the rear seats are better suited to children than adults on a routine basis. However, adults can be carried in relative comfort if those in the front are willing and able to move their seats forward a few notches.

As a city car for a family with children under about 12 years the VW Polo will work brilliantly.

Ride comfort is again typically VW as the body has a solid feed and provides a good platform for the suspension to work on. There’s a relaxed feeling inside the Polo that normally requires a car from the next size segment.

These new-design Volkswagen 1.2-litre engines are delightful to sit behind. They provide strong torque, respond almost immediately and are always happy to rev.

I feel the majority of drivers won’t need anything more than the 66 kW version, though as keen drivers we must admit to enjoying the extra urge provided by the 81 kilowatts in our Polo Trendline test car.

The latest Volkswagen Polo is an impressive small car that will appeal to the person who is looking for more than simply transport. Its solid feel and high quality of finish really appealed to all who travelled in it during our week’s road testing.


Polo 66TSI Trendline 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $16,290 (manual), $18,790 (DSG)
Polo 81TSI Comfortline 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $18,290 (manual); $20,790 (DSG)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volkswagen dealer for driveaway prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: $2500 option in both models
Cruise Control: Standard in both models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in both models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in both models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in both models
Rear Parking Sensors: Optional in both models
Reversing Camera: Not offered in 66TSI, package option in 81TSI
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in both models
Bluetooth: Standard in both models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in both models

SPECIFICATIONS (Volkswagen Polo 66TSI Trendline five-door hatch)

Capacity: 1.197 litres
Configuration: Transverse, four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 71.0 mm x 75.6 mm
Maximum Power: 66 kW @ 4400-5400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 160 Nm @ 1400-3500 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Five-speed
Automatic Transmission: Seven-speed DSG
Final Drive Ratio: NA

Length: 3972 mm
Wheelbase: 2470 mm
Width: 1682 mm
Height: 1453 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1052 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
Towing Ability: Not supplied
Boot Capacity: 280 litres (952 litres with rear seatbacks folded)

Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam axle, trailing arms, coil springs
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

0-100 km/h Acceleration: Not supplied

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.8 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 8.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Three years/100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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