Volkswagen Polo Match review

Volkswagen has focused on value by offering its Polo supermini in 'Match' edition form. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

Volkswagen's Polo plays the value card in appealing 'Match' edition form. Improved in-car connectivity is the main highlight here, building on all the usual Polo virtues.

Background

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 Match edition? It's still a Polo, but one with a little more about it. Rather than the 'hair shirt', pared-down-to-a-price feel of a base-spec Polo 'S', here, for only around £1,500 more, you get a version of this car that instantly feels much more desirable, primarily thanks to its standard 'Car-Net App-Connect' infotainment system. There's a wide choice of engines too. Plenty to like then.

Driving Experience

The Polo Match 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

This fifth generation Polo is getting towards the end of its production life now, but the shape still looks quite smart. As usual, there's the familiar choice between three and five-door bodyshapes. Get inside and dominating the dash is much the same modular infotainment touchscreen you'd find on Volkswagen's larger Golf family hatch. Otherwise, the look, feel and functionality of the controls, the clearly designated instruments and the neat switchgear should all be pretty familiar to Polo people. As ever, it's easy to find a perfect driving position thanks to a height-adjustable seat and a reach as well as a height-adjustable steering wheel. And, as expected, there remains a reassuring solidity to everything you touch - and plenty of soft touch plastic to remind you just how far small cars have come in recent years, though unfortunately, this still doesn't extend into the doors. And out back? Well, the 280-litre boot might be fractionally smaller than the trunk you'd get in rival Fiesta, Peugeot 208 or Renault Clio models but I prefer it because the figure quoted doesn't force you to put up with one of those nasty little puncture repair kits: good luck with one of those of you ever get stranded on a dark, wet and rainy hard shoulder. Here, you get a proper full-sized spare wheel, a very rare feature in this class.

Market and Model

Prices for this variant range in the £13,500 to £16,500 bracket and there's a £630 premium to go from three to five doors. The Match trim level commands a premium of around £1,500 over base 'S' spec and delivers quite a lot for your cash. Standard features include electrically heated power-folding body-coloured door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, 15-inch 'Stratford' alloy wheels and manual air conditioning. This variant also comes with Volkswagen's clever 'Car-Net App-Connect' system, which fully integrates your smartphone via a USB connection. Depending on the phone, Car-Net App-Connect uses Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto or MirrorLink to bring the device's functionality to the car by displaying apps on the infotainment touchscreen. Car-Net's App-Connect functionality enables practical services and information to be accessed, and builds on the features of the Composition Media infotainment system. Selected phone apps such as Spotify and Skype can be operated from the car's touchscreen, and for smartphones that support Google Android Auto, Google Voice control is available. As for safety stuff, well this includes ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and Automatic Post-Collision Braking. All Polos are also equipped with driver's and front passenger's airbags, and a side head airbag system.

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 1.4 TDI diesel manages 83.1mpg on the combined cycle and 97g/km of CO2. Meanwhile, 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.

Summary

This Polo Match model will be welcomed by Volkswagen dealers, offering Wolfsburg's solid supermini a little more showroom appeal. 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. These days, little about the Polo can be described as best in class. But what still 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 Match edition embellishments and you have a very appealing little package.

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