Volkswagen Polo
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Volkswagen Polo

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Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo – The Elderly Statesman of the Supermini

The Volkswagen Polo is one of the elder statesmen of the Supermini market; remaining stoic in its refusal to disappear from forecourts across the land. After over 30 years on our roads, the Polo is still seen on every high street the length and breadth of the country. It’s available in hatchback, coupé, and estate variants so everyone is catered for. However, as Bob Dylan once perceptively announced, the times they are a’ changing. With so many young pretenders snapping at Polo’s well-trodden heels, how is it going to remain a petrol head favorite?

No longer the baby of the Volkswagen fleet (following the introduction of the Lupo in 1998 and then the Fox in 2004), the Polo now sits in a slightly odd position in between the entry-level model and the higher spec Golf. New drivers will opt for the lower end models, whilst the more adventurous will jump straight to the Golf. It would appear to the untrained eye that Volkswagen is putting the squeeze on their own product. Is VW struggling to find a suitable niche for the Polo?

Let’s take a look at the competition. The sporty-looking Seat Ibiza skips into view like a Spanish waiter with itchy under-garments, the Vauxhall Corsa stalks nearby like a Huntsman Spider and the ever-present Ford Fiesta reinvents itself more than Madonna does. That goes without mentioning the Fiats, the Toyotas and the Hondas, all of which are turning heads and gaining notoriety within the Supermini circles. To stay afloat the Polo will have to keep well ahead of the curve.

In a purely aesthetic sense, the Polo doesn’t disappoint. The evolved looks cannot hide the treasured Volkswagen lineage, the curvy body updated to keep up with the Joneses whilst remaining distinctly ‘VW’. In relative terms the Polo is akin to an aging aunty with a keen desire to look 17 again; perhaps a nip here and tuck there and she’ll nearly be there… nearly.

But would you want to be seen with her? Well, as a matter of fact, yes you would…if she was a Polo…which she’s not…but you understand what I mean…sort of. The point is that the Polo has retained the understated good looks and style that have maintained its popularity since its 1975 inception. The favorite chunky, boxy body has been smoothed out for modern taste, but is still unmistakably the ‘Volkswagen Look’.

Performance-wise the Polo is never going to reinvent the wheel, but no present or prospective Polo owners would expect it to. The whole Volkswagen shtick is reliability, sturdiness and a bit of oomph occasionally. The Polo E’s punchy engine is extremely responsive for a base model and is backed by excellent handling and an intuitive suspension system that will iron out the bumpiest of city streets or pot-hole ridden country roads.

The tired old cliché of efficient German engineering will be trotted out here, but there isn’t a single nuance of frivolity to be found on the whole car; everything is functional because if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be on the car. A simple/basic concept has been applied to the designing of the Polo, ensuring that quality takes a huge precedent over quantity. Apply this logic to German beers if you will; never the tastiest of beverages and often more expensive than the other beers, but you always seem to get drunker quicker if you choose the Bavarian way. That, my friends, is efficiency.

The real feather in the Polo’s cap is the way it has effortlessly straddled and conquered the most pressing social issues of the day. The Polo’s extremely low running costs combat the current economic burial pit we find ourselves in, whilst remaining kind to the environment with impressively low Co2 emissions. So whether you’re a financially doomed merchant banker or an earth-loving hippy, you’re unlikely to be annoyed by seeing this car on the road.

The future looks uncertain for the VW Polo; the competition is mounting like a hungry pack of wolves, but for the time being it remains near the top of the supermini pyramid in both popularity and performance stakes. Whether it stays there for much longer is another matter.

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