LET’S PLAY MINI GOLF

Ooz­ing Euro class and with am­ple spec and space, the com­pact Polo comes of age

Herald Sun - Motoring - - ONE CAR — TWO CRITICS - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

The sixth-gen­er­a­tion VW Polo com­pact city car, with ex­tra spec­i­fi­ca­tion and in­creased di­men­sions, makes Euro style and qual­ity avail­able from just $17,990. Adding to the value propo­si­tion, it has greater boot space and head­room than some cars in the seg­ment above. We own the Golf sta­ble­mate — so can the Polo 70TSI Trend­line per­suade us that it’s a vi­able fam­ily car?

FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

IAIN: En­try-level city cars don’t nor­mally get you ex­cited. You pre­pare your­self for steel wheels, drum brakes on the rear, no leather seats or fancy in­clu­sions.

JULES: All right, I’m not that much of a snob. Be­sides, I like the classy look of the new Polo. Big for a city car, isn’t it?

IAIN: Well spot­ted. The Polo has grown so much VW says it’s big­ger than the Golf Mk4 sold from 1998-2004.

JULES: My par­ents had a Golf Mk4 as a fam­ily car. Does that mean a new Polo would be a can­di­date for our fam­ily of four?

IAIN: Of course. Just be­cause you breed doesn’t mean you need a gi­ant seven-seat SUV. Huge num­bers of Euro­pean fam­i­lies have Polo-sized cars as their main fam­ily ve­hi­cle. JULES: What en­gine have we got here?

IAIN: This is the en­try level 70TSI Trend­line, with 1.0-litre three-cylin­der turbo. Power is just 70kW but peak torque is a perky 175Nm.

JULES: Not a lot then.

IAIN: For $2500 more you can have a Polo 85TSI Com­fort­line. Same en­gine but tuned for 85kW/200Nm, plus you get al­loys, auto lights and wipers and com­fier cloth seats.

JULES: What am I get­ting for my money with the Trend­line?

IAIN: For $20,490 drive-away with auto gear­box it’s pretty good. It comes with an eight­inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, Ap­ple CarPlay/ An­droid Auto, Blue­tooth, cruise con­trol, rear cam­era and au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing.

THE LIV­ING SPACE

JULES: The cabin is un­der­stated and classy but not funky like many city cars.

IAIN: True but it’s re­ally well pre­sented for buy­ers favour­ing qual­ity over gim­micks.

JULES: The colour touch­screen that mir­rors my phone through Ap­ple CarPlay is a key sell­ing point for me. Big win.

IAIN: The dash and touch points have a few more hard plas­tics than a Golf but I’d say the Polo’s the class leader at this price for cabin qual­ity.

JULES: And space. The kids seemed to have as much room in the back as larger, pricier cars.

THE COM­MUTE

IAIN: City cars are nor­mally just that. Bril­liantly ver­sa­tile in town but a bit rub­bish on the high­way.

JULES: Like when it feels like a gust of wind would top­ple you over?

IAIN: Ex­actly. The Polo feels more grown-up, sta­ble, quiet and well suited for do­ing 110km/h for long dis­tances. The cruise con­trol helps too.

THE SHOP­PING

JULES: It’s so nice not hav­ing an SUV. I love the Polo’s size for zip­ping into park­ing spa­ces. Rear cam­era’s great but I’d love sen­sors too.

IAIN: The boot’s big­ger than a Mazda3 or Ford Fo­cus in the class above, by the way.

JULES: More shop­ping then! Go­ing back to me not be­ing a snob — sort of — I was prouder park­ing it than, say, a Toy­ota or some­thing Korean. The Euro­pean badge is still a cut above.

IAIN: It does look sharp. Even in its rather dull grey colour. VW’s colour pal­ette is too bland.

JULES: Noth­ing jazzy at all?

IAIN: There is metal­lic or­ange, white, black or sil­ver. Not a blue or red to be found.

SUN­DAY RUN

JULES: I found the throt­tle re­sponse a bit slow, even in Sport mode. Maybe I’m just used to our Golf with its big­ger en­gine.

IAIN: It drives like a baby Golf to me. It’s a joy to steer, I love the note of the three-cylin­der turbo en­gine and in Sport mode it holds the higher revs well. It’s bril­liant to throw around. JULES: Didn’t you find it slow off the mark? IAIN: VW’s auto gear­box, called DSG, is a tiny bit jerky at low speeds but I think it’s just that you’re used to a man­ual shifter and more power than 70kW. The time from rest to 100km/h is 10.8 sec­onds, re­mem­ber.

JULES: It steers re­ally pre­cisely and I’m a big fan of the sporty flat-bot­tom leather wheel.

THE FAM­ILY

IAIN: Apart from not be­ing able to fit their bikes in the boot, the six and three-year old had plenty of rear space with their two Isofix seats in place.

JULES: No air vents for the kids back there, or USB points.

IAIN: Imag­ine us com­plain­ing about such things when we were kids. They don’t care. If it’s air they need, they can open a win­dow.

JULES: Any­way, six airbags, auto emer­gency brak­ing and five-star safety rat­ing mean it passes the fam­ily test.

IAIN: War­ranty is three years, when many ri­vals are longer. Plus it needs 95 pre­mium fuel, if I’m be­ing picky.

THE VER­DICT

JULES: Style, cabin fin­ish, in­fo­tain­ment and de­cent size make the Polo a win­ner but I’d pre­fer more power.

IAIN: Agreed. It makes spend­ing $2500 more for the 85kW Com­fort­line with al­loys look a good move. Even so, this en­try-level Polo’s a cracker with its ma­ture and well-en­gi­neered feel.

JULES: But if you need more space, the Skoda Fabia is the only one in the city car class with a wagon back. I’d still pick it for my life with two kids, plus it has a five-year war­ranty.

IAIN: Good call. The Fabia and Polo share plenty of DNA. But for me, the VW’s the classier choice.

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