A STRONG suit with Volkswagen's new Polo is the economy which is considerably better than the outgoing model, writes Roy Lewis.
It's largely due to the squeaky-clean engine range which has been extensively re-engineered to comply with the latest stringent EU6 emissions.
And the new Polo gets a raft of technology largely taken from its stablemate the Golf which gives the supermini a big-car feel. In fact, VW say that the Polo now has the most advanced range of assistance and infotainment systems available in a car of this class.
The evergreen Polo is one of the most appealing superminis on the market and has been a sales success since 1975. This latest incarnation is a major advance and is now being delivered to first customers that range from teenagers to pensioners.
While the changes are mainly under the skin, the exterior gets a little more style thanks to small body tweaks, a new grille, bumpers and LED lighting. Inside, the Polo is as classy as ever, being finished to an exacting standard with top-drawer materials. And while there are subtle changes to the interior, the most notable difference is the centre console which now looks more like the Golf.
While it might not be the most spacious hatchback in its class, the Polo is roomy for its size with space for five and a boot that will carry a decent amount of family luggage.
No doubt, the leap in frugality will draw many customers but despite some rather exceptionally- frugal Blue models in the new line-up, the biggest seller is expected to be the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol which comes with 59 or 74bhp outputs. And the most popular trim is predicted to be the SE specification - one grade up from the entry-level S.
This motor is similar to that housed in VW's Up and is competitively priced with the three-door SE model selling at a competitive £12,435. It's value for money when you consider the excellent build quality and VW's enviable reputation for reliability and high residual values.
The three-cylinder is cheap to run in either power outputs with a combined fuel consumption of more than 60mpg. While both motors have plenty of zip, the nicer drive is the larger 74bhp unit because it is a smoother and more relaxed operator. Overall, however, it is not necessarily much quicker than the lesser- powered version.
The 1.0-litre petrol cars are at their best in town where they can nip in and out of the traffic with ease and are also capable on the open road where they have no trouble keeping up with the Joneses.
Beside better economy, what has also improved with the Polo is the ride and quietness of travel. For a small car it manages to soak up road imperfections with comparative ease and provide a fairly supple and composed ride.
Arguably, Polo prices are better value than before because of the extra efficiency and standard equipment. They go from £11,100 for the 1.0-litre S three-door five-speed manual to £19,715 for the Blue GT 1.4-litreTSi five-door with a seven-speed auto DSG transmission. As one might expect from VW, there is a good choice of engines which include two 1.0-litre three –cylinder petrol, two 1.2 TSi units, a 1.4 TSi and two 1.4-litre turbo-diesels.
The car's kit list includes electronic stability control, Hill Hold and automatic braking to increase safety. The equipment also includes VW's latest modular colour touch screen infotainment system with proximity sensor which reacts to swiping movements like that of a smart phone.
The SE specification gets a bigger 6.5-inch version of the touch screen together with alloy wheels, air con and remote locking. A sat-nav is a £700 option.
Volkswagen Polo 1.0-litre SE three-door 59bhp five-speed manual.
Price: £12,435 (on the road).
Top speed: 100mph.
0-62mph: 15.5 seconds.
Fuel: 60.1mpg (combined figure).
C02 emissions (g/km): 106.
Verdict: Cracking new engines, cheap to run, superb build quality, classy interior, better equipment, good and safe buy.