Volkswagen is in the midst of a grand overhaul of its line-up, with the aim of getting each of them on the same design page as the new Mk8 Golf. It’s done the Tiguan, the Touareg, and even some of its commercial offerings. And now it’s done the Polo.
The Polo exists on a similar update cycle to the Tiguan, with this being a mid-life refresh rather than an all-new model. As such a lot of the pint-sized hatchback’s lines and curves are direct carry-overs from the current model, but it gets Volkswagen’s new signature front fascia.
This means narrow-set headlights, which in this case are connected all the way across by an LED strip that lines the base of the primary grille. The secondary grille is much larger, and echoes the shape of the equivalent bird catcher on the new Golf.
Around the back it gets new LED tail lights, with LED beams front and rear standard on all models. One curious light feature included with the Polo as an option is Volkswagen’s adaptive matrix LED headlights. These have the ability to automatically dip certain portions of the light at night time in order to not dazzle oncoming motorists, simultaneously allowing the driver to keep their high-beams on.
It’s fascinating big-car technology that’s now trickling down to the wee Polo. If anything, this big-car-tech-in-a-small-car element is the new model’s main theme, as some of its new features are derived from more fancied and expensive nameplates in the Volkswagen line-up.
Admittedly, some of these features are locked behind options packs that buyers have to pay extra for. Radar cruise control and lane-keep assist are two examples of this (available with the IQ.Drive Travel Assist pack), although admittedly all vehicles get a more rudimentary lane guide assist system as standard.
Again, like the Tiguan, the new Polo’s cabin shares the same basic dashboard layout as its predecessor. The new bits, by and large, concern tech. All models get a standard new 8.0-inch digital information cluster as standard, paired to a 6.5-inch touchscreen.
Move to a higher trim level, and you get some fairly hefty size improvements. The digital cluster grows to a 10.25-incher, and gets paired with a 9.2-inch touchscreen, making the loftier Polo models some of the most tech-savvy in the subcompact segment.
Overseas, the Polo will be offered in Life, Style, R-Line, and GTI specifications, with the GTI yet to be unveiled in full. Three petrol engines have been confirmed, with the GTI’s still to be announced. All are 1.0-litre three-cylinder units, two of them turbocharged.
The most basic Polo gets a 59kW triple, with turbo’d 79kW and 81kW options also on the table. Curiously Volkswagen is still offering the model with a five-speed manual overseas, instead of a six. It can also be had with a dual-clutch DSG in the two turbo models. Expect New Zealand to skip on both the base 59kW engine and any manuals.