To turn to a cliché for a moment, the VW Polo is indeed larger in every dimension and weighs more than the original VW Golf, a car intended to compete in a different size class. The VW Polo is also safer, more refined and comfortable while delivering performance roughly on a par as the original Golf GTI but twice the fuel economy. Not sure why this always seems to be such a bugbear for road testers since no one is cross shopping cars built nearly five decades apart, but it’s good to get it out of the way.
Then again, the Polo always was the more mature of the superminis and its reputation for rattle-free refinement is still deserved to this day. Its three-cylinder turbocharged 999cc engine does thrum away audibly, but in an eager rather than coarse manner, and proves nippier around town than its 10.8 second 0-62mph time would have you believe. A 116mph top speed from just 95PS (70kW) points to some slippery aero work which pays off in long-legged and quiet motorway cruising, as well as a combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg.
Clutch, steering, brakes and gearchange are all light, easy and perfectly pleasant if not exactly engaging. And on the subject of gearchanges, the Polo is equipped as standard with a five-speed manual. Hands up who else didn’t realise they still made ‘boxes with so few ratios anymore? The ride and handling balance is firmly on the side of comfort, the Polo does not have the eagerness of a Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, but the flipside is class-leading refinement.