Road test: Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI SE

  • We drive the revised Polo for 2014 in popular SE trim
  • Upgraded technology and improved engine efficiency stand out
  • First deliveries expected in July, priced at £14,210 with no options
  • The Volkswagen Polo has been revised for 2014 and we've driven it for the first time.

    Although it may look very similar to the naked eye, inside and under the bonnet is where the big changes are.

    Available to order in just over a week's time with deliveries expected in July, the new Polo is Volkswagen’s second biggest-selling model here in the UK with the five-door model taking a sizable chunk of the sales.

    We’ve got behind the wheel of the revised model in its popular 1.2TSI engine to see how the new changes stack up.  

    Refined petrol engine

    Although the arrival of a 1.0-litre TSI BlueMotion is stealing most of the headlines, the entire engine line-up has been revised for 2014 offering improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy.

    The 1.2TSI option driven here is available with two power outputs; 88bhp and 108bhp. We’re testing the lower-powered model and on the road it feels confident and smooth.

    There is enough power available to gain speeds pretty quickly on a slip road and the engine is very quiet until you reach 70mph - when it starts to come under strain and get noisier. The 0-62mph sprint is achieved in 10.8 seconds and we reckon this car is ideal for country roads and town driving. The steering is direct and the Polo feels stable and fairly nimble on the road with little body roll produced in the corners.

    It may not be the most exciting car to drive but is very comfortable thanks to the soft suspension making easy work of potholes and bumps in the road.

    Fuel economy has been improved across the Polo engine range by as much as 21 percent and the 1.2TSI now has an official fuel economy figure of 60.1mpg; although in real world driving you are likely to see closer to 50mpg.

    Despite the engine improvements, CO2 emissions fo this particular car are still higher than some of the Polo’s main rivals at 107g/km. This means for company car drivers a 14 percent BIK tax band for the 2014/15 tax year.

    Upgraded technology

    The biggest change inside is the addition of the next-generation multimedia system seen for the first time in any Volkswagen car.  The new system features improved touchscreen technology, better display resolution and a bigger screen as standard. The upgraded system is as easy to navigate around and control when behind the wheel as the previous generation and the display is clean and clear.

    In SE trim standard specification is pretty generous with DAB Radio, USB port, 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth, six speakers and leather interior touches among the highlights.

    This particular model will cost £14,210 to buy so offers good value for money. There are plenty of reasonably priced options you can choose too which include adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, climate control and an electric sunroof.

    Also available for the first time as an option is MirrorLink, a new bit of tech which cleverly transfers your Android phone display to the multimedia screen in the car as well as being able to integrate your phones apps. This new bit of tech costs only £150, although it isn’t available for iPhone users.  

    There is also some new safety features available as standard across the range including Hill Hold Assist and Automatic Post-Collision Braking which brakes the car after an impact to prevent a secondary collision.

    Practical for everyday life

    When it comes to practicality the Polo is pretty good, the five-door especially. There is plenty of leg and headroom on offer for both those in the front and the rear, easily big enough for four six-footers.

    There are also plenty of practical storage options around the car too with magazine holders, a large glovebox, centre armrest cubbie and cupholders. The door pockets are on the small side, though.

    In the boot there is 280 litres of luggage room available, which is big enough to fit two small suitcases in. There is also a useful variable boot floor and a couple of hooks to secure your bags when you go shopping. The rear seats fold down flat easily too creating more luggage space if needed.

    Would we buy one?

    The Volkswagen Polo will be celebrating its 40th birthday next year and is still a great all-round car with little to criticise. The engine tested here offers more than enough performance to be practical in everyday life and the SE trim has lots of standard kit on offer making it good value for money.

    Not as fun to drive as its rivals the Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 208, it is a functional and sensible car which is arguably its biggest flaw - you may prefer a car that has more character.