Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The Polo Dune is available with three engines, all shared with the standard Polo. In town the 1.2-litre with its peppy nature makes good sense. It's keen to dart in-and-out of traffic and has good acceleration up to around 20 mph. But it struggles once on the open road, with lethargic acceleration (0-62mph takes 16.5 seconds) and a lack of power for overtaking anything other than the tardiest of tractors while motorway driving requires downchanges for inclines.

The 1.4-litre petrol is much better and provides a good compromise for buyers who do a mixture of town and country driving. In 2006 this was upgraded to an 80bhp version that is quicker but still averages 42mpg. Long-distance drivers should seriously consider the 70 bhp 1.4 TDI - a punchy and frugal diesel which is capable of 56mpg. All models have a decent five-speed manual gearbox.

The Polo Dune's compact dimensions and raised ride height make it a breeze to drive around town and it copes well with speed bumps and potholed roads. The steering is light, making parking easy (although it feels a bit too remote on dual carriageways and motorways) and the ride is forgiving on all surfaces. It's grippy, too, which makes faster driving fun.

The pedals are well spaced and the gearchange is exceptionally precise.