Volkswagen hopes to gives its Polo supermini a fresh lease of life in 'Beats' special edition form. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
Volkswagen's Polo gets a touch trendier in appealing 'Beats' special edition form. The brand has teamed up with Californian audio specialists Beats Electronics to create a smarter-looking supermini with high performance sound.
The Volkswagen Polo. You know why you'd buy one: quality, class, high residuals: things like that. Qualities that are worthy but a little dull. So what about this, the Polo Beats special edition. It's still a Polo, but one with a little more about it. As the name suggests, it gets a much better stereo, a 300-watt eight-channel system that's very different to the set-up usually provided in this car. And it looks a little smarter inside and out as well, while also getting some of Volkswagen's latest media connectivity options. There's a wide choice of engines too. Plenty to like then.
The Polo Beats features a range of EU6-compliant engines. Petrol options are two three-cylinder 1.0-litre MPI units with 60 or 75PS, plus a 1.2-litre four-cylinder TSI powerplant with 90PS that can also be ordered with DSG auto transmission. Should you prefer to go diesel, there is a three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDI engine with 75PS. And on the road? Well, it still isn't as fun to drive as a Fiesta, a Peugeot 208 or a Renault Clio. For most Polo people, that won't matter one jot, many potential owners being quite happy to trade the differences that do exist for this Volkswagen model's superior long distance refinement and more impressive ride. The ride in town is as good as it is on the open road, easily shrugging off pock-marked urban surfaces. The steering system is nice to twirl around on city streets too, lacking the remote PlayStation feel of some rival electric set-ups and combining with the large glass area to make parking a doddle. Oh and the seats are some of the most supportive we've tried in a small car at this price point, an important point for supermini buyers. After all, it isn't only long distance journeys that can take up to 2-3 hours.
Design and Build
The sharper looks of the Polo Beats back up its class-leading sound system, with standard equipment including 16-inch 'Knight' alloy wheels. In addition, you get darkened rear light clusters and 65% tinted rear windows. The radiator grille is finished in 'High Gloss Black' and the car is enhanced with 'Flash Red', 'Pure White' or 'Black' door mirrors with integrated indicators. A unique 'Beats' badge on the B-pillar combines with 'Beats' decals on the side skirts to complete the exterior styling additions. As well as additional speakers, the interior of the Polo Beats boasts 'Cortina Silver' trim on the centre console and air vent surrounds along with leatherette door panels and chrome trim. The front and rear carpet mats have red stitching, while the doors have unique 'Beats' sill protectors. The sporty seats have Alcantara side bolsters and a special 'Beats' cloth centre section, and there's a streak of character through the seatbelts thanks to the addition of thin vertical red stripes. LED foot well lighting rounds off the cabin changes. As for practicalities, there's a 280-litre boot which increases to 952-litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Market and Model
The Beats special edition slots into the Polo range just above 'Match' versions and prices start at just under £14,000 for the 1.0 BMT 60PS variant. So you're looking at a premium of around £1,000 over a Match model. Across the line-up, there's the option to trade up from the three-door to the five-door bodystyle for a premium of £630. We've already alluded to the extra equipment items on this car - the 16-inch 'Knight' alloy wheels, the exterior styling changes and the 300-watt eight-channel amplifier that is fitted with a DSP digital signal processor - a big step up from the Match version's 80-watt system. In addition, like the Match, standard-fit technology in the Polo Beats includes a Composition Media system which boasts a 6.5-inch colour monitor. This includes a car information display, a CD player, the facility of simultaneous pairing for two compatible mobile phones, SMS functionality for reading and composing text messages and music title and cover art display. This Beats variant also adds Volkswagen's Car-Net 'App-Connect', which combines the functionality of Apple 'CarPlay', Google 'Android Auto' and 'MirrorLink' and allows the 'mirroring' of the smartphone display on the infotainment touchscreen via USB.
Cost of Ownership
Volkswagen has long been trying to drive down running costs using the clever BlueMotion Technology you'll find on all Polo models. This includes much of the stuff we're now getting familiar with on more efficient superminis, things like battery regeneration to help utilise energy that would otherwise be lost under braking. And a Stop/Start system that cuts the engine when you don't need it, stuck in traffic or waiting at the lights. The 1.0-litre petrol engine most will choose can squeeze 60.1 miles out of a gallon of 95 RON. The more powerful 75PS version of this engine isn't going to send you to the wall either, recording 58.9mpg. Emissions for these two 1.0-litre units are 106 and 108g/km respectively. The 1.2-litre TSI petrol unit is a great compromise between economy and effervescence, with a tiny turbocharger boosting power to 90PS. Even here, you'll get 60.1 miles per gallon, exactly the same as the entry-level 60PS 1.0-litre, with a near-identical 107g/km carbon emissions. If I had to identify the most attractive buy in the Polo range, it would probably be this powerplant, mated to the DSG gearbox if you're not too cash-strapped.
This Beats edition Polo model will be welcomed by Volkswagen dealers, offering Wolfsburg's solid supermini a little more zip in the showrooms. The Polo previously appealed on classy minimalism but most people these days want slick electronics and a greater feeling of design input inside their small cars. Volkswagen has responded and done so with typical thoroughness. Little about the Polo's dynamics or efficiency are really best in class stuff. But what makes this car so good is that it's there or thereabouts in most categories but doesn't get beaten by anyone when it comes to perceived quality. Add to that the Beats edition embellishments and you have a very appealing little package.