2018 Volkswagen Polo Launch Review

2018 volkswagen polo

Volkswagen has a new-generation Polo available to Australian small hatch buyers with the arrival of the 2018 Volkswagen Polo into dealerships.

I got along to the Australian launch of the now sixth-generation Polo and came away quite impressed.

Volkswagen has a generously optioned, sharply priced and very competent little vehicle here that should make its presence felt up against light-car and small-car competitors.

For those looking for the sporty Polo GTI…its not here quite yet – that one will land around the middle of the year.

External

From any angle the new-gen Polo is easily recognizable as a Volkswagen Polo.

This new model though welcomes some fresh and quite interesting styling elements headed up by the hefty creases down each side and across the tailgate.

It all seems to work with the new Polo giving what you would call the “entry-level” Volkswagen a stylish and sophisticated look.

2018 volkswagen polo interiorInterior

The new Volkswagen Polo is about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf from a decade ago and generally that is felt on the inside.

There’s excellent headroom and shoulder room front and back and while legroom is about average for a vehicle in this class and would be a car that you could carry four people in, in reasonable comfort.

Interestingly, the new larger proportions translates directly to boot space – Volkswagen talking a 25% increase on the 5th-gen version.

Sitting in the rear is actually quite a comfy experience with nicely sculptured outboard seats (the middle seat not quite as sumptuous), the aforementioned generous headroom and decent-sized armrests adding to the experience.

There’s also generously-sized bottle holders in the rear, not surprisingly though there are no rear air-conditioning vents.

The back seat is a 60/40 split and the sections fold down easily, but not quite as flat as I might have liked.

Sitting up the front you get surprisingly comfortable seats with height adjustment standard on both seats (something many vehicles don’t boast), they have decent-sized bases and good side bolstering.

There’s tilt and reach steering adjustment, the same quality-feel steering wheel that you get in much more expensive Volkswagen models and generously-sized door pockets and glove box.

A centre armrest comes only in the upper-spec Comfortline variant.

The centre console has an adequately-sized forward storage for your phone and two well-placed USB ports, there’s also a 12V power outlet in the centre of the console.

Perhaps the biggest selling point here though is the 8″ touchscreen with standard reverse camera, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Features

The base-model 2018 Volkswagen Polo Trendline comes standard with:

  • Six-speaker stereo
  • Tilt and reach steering adjustment
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detect
  • Tyre pressure monitor
  • Height adjustable front seats
  • Fatigue warning system
  • Reverse camera

The Comfortline version adds:

  • 16″ alloy wheels
  • Rear disc-brakes (as opposed to drums on the base-model)
  • Centre armrest
  • Auto headlights
  • Auto wipers
  • Upgraded cloth trim

2018 volkswagen polo rear seatDrive and Engine

One of the big talking points here is the change from a turbocharged 1.2 litre four-cylinder petrol engine to a new engine – a 1.0 litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol.

Available in both the Trendline and Comfortline, the Trendline boasts a 70kW/175Nm output and the Comfortline gives you 85kW/200Nm to play with.

Despite the smaller capacity the new engine gives you more power and torque than the outgoing four-cylinder unit which boasted outputs of 66kW/160Nm (Trendline) and 81kW/175Nm (Comfortline).

Transmission choice is five-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch automatic.

On the launch I got a drive of the base-model Trendline with a manual transmission and was generally satisfied with the performance of the engine.

It is happy to rev and get to work and provided surprisingly spirited acceleration.

The Volkswagen Polo is a city-focused offering and I’m happy to report that the Polo would happily accelerate away in second gear from around/just below 20km/h.

The gearing though in the manual transmission feels a little tall for my liking…this means that you’re really needing to drop a cog or two when tackling a hill and wanting to maintain speed.

On the return leg I drove the Polo Comfortline with the auto transmission and can report, not surprisingly, that the higher-output engine delivers more pep.

However, as is the case with all DSG auto transmissions there are some times when it impedes the smooth transfer of power from engine to wheels.

You get the odd shudder, especially at lower speeds, and a feeling of momentary disconnect. I’m yet to find a DSG that, in my opinion at least, works better than a traditional auto transmission.

The 2018 Volkswagen Polo has a stiffer body than the model it replaces and this can be felt in the bends, it’s a better than competent handler and the ride, although slightly firm initially, is very impressive.

Safety

Full marks here – the new Polo has a maximum five-star safety rating and joins only the Mazda2 in having Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard in this class.

Good Bits

  • Solid feel
  • Comfy seats
  • Interior head and shoulder room
  • Standard features
  • Willing engine
  • Sharp pricing
  • Full-size spare

Not So Good Bits

  • Rear seat could fold flatter
  • Recommended 95 RON fuel
  • Some hard plastic surfaces in cabin
  • DSG transmission idiosyncrasies

2018 volkswagen polo rear seatSummary

There’s a new segment leader in the light-car world with the arrival of the 2018 Volkswagen Polo.

You can’t fault it on standard features, quality feel, safety attributes and pricing and is a definite must drive proposition if a small five-door hatch is on your shopping list.

The entry-level model is most likely adequate for most first-time car buyers and the more powerful/better equipped Comfortline is a good option for those willing to pay that little bit more.

Facts and Figures: 2018 Volkswagen Polo

  • Engine: 1.0 litre turbo-petrol producing¬†70kW/175Nm (Trendline) or 85kW/200Nm (Comfortline)
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Warranty: Three years
  • Origin: South Africa
  • Price: from $17,990 drive-away in March




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