Volkswagen Polo: 2021 facelift keeps things simple

  • Full details of the facelifted Polo details revealed
  • New model line-up, more tech inside and out
  • On sale in the autumn from around £18,000

Volkswagen Polo (2021) front view

The wraps have come off the facelifted 2021 Volkswagen Polo, and although it looks largely the same as the outgoing model, it’s hiding a lot of new tech under the skin.

Much of the updated styling and interior is about making it look and feel like a baby version of the Vokswagen Golf 8. So, it gets some light changes to its styling as well as an updated infotainment set-up and digital instrument display that looks and feels rather similar to its larger brother.

Will it be enough to allow the Polo to keep up with younger and fresher rivals, such as the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208 and the bestselling Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa?

What changes have been made?

For its facelift, the new Polo gets a new front bumper and headlights that look more like its bigger brother’s – with a new LED light bar that as well as the truck-driver-annoying IQ Light set-up that gives the driver such a good view at night.

Bringing up the rear is a new badging, which follows the current trend of boldly naming the car with a big, central badge beneath the VW badge. That arrangement is flanked by new LED tail lights, echoing the Golf 8, and to a lesser extent, the ID.3 electric car.

What’s it like inside?

Volkswagen Polo (2021) interior view

All new Polos come with VW’s Innovision digital instrument panel as standard. The more you spend on your Polo, the larger it is – with the standard version measuring 8.0in, while those plusher models fitted with Digital Cockpit Pro get a whopping 10.25in.

VW’s touch-sensitive panels are replacing the perfectly good knobs and buttons on some models – so get used to swiping left and right. This arrangement is shared with the Golf. But you don’t have to have it in the Polo – buy a model with manual air conditioning and you keep the old-school controls. Hurrah!

Infotainment is handled by a 6.5-, 8.0 or 9.2-inch central touchscreen, and will be offered with Volkswagen’s We Connect system that relays traffic and handles audio streaming. Good too is that wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included. Adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist is available for the first time in a Polo, too.

What engines and trims are available?

You get a choice of three 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols. The entry-level is a 80hp naturally-aspirated version, and this is joined by a pair of turbocharged TSIs developing 95 and 110hp. The most powerful model comes with VW’s excellent DSG transmission as standard.

Prices and specs have yet to be finalised, but expect the model line-up to mirror the Golf’s. So it’ll start with the Polo Life, followed by the Style and topped off with the popular R-Line trim.

There will also be a GTI model in 2022, but there’s not much confirmed about that one as yet, other than it’s definitely returning to the UK. Expect it to be powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the outgoing model.

What that means for you

The Polo is a safe bet in the small car class, and for its mid-life facelift, Volkswagen has been careful to keep the ingredients pretty much the same. It’s no surprise to see Golf 8 interior technology, such as those touchpads finding their way in – if you’re buying a new VW any time soon, you’re going to have to get used to them.

Although full pricing and specification details are yet to be announced, those new trims found on the Golf will make chosing a new Polo much simpler than before. We expect a list price starting at £18,000, with deliveries commencing in the autumn of 2021.

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Volkswagen Polo (2021) profile view