Citi Golf loyalists can be rest assured that the new “replacement' Volkswagen Polo comes to market with a plethora of updated features. Bearing the simplistic design lines of Volkswagen's new family face, the Uitenhage-built Polo is lighter than ever before and has improved rigidity which has resulted in a five star Euro NCAP safety rating. With the South African plant being the sole assembly line for five-door Polo's to the rest of the right-hand drive world market, it is safe to say that one would be buying a quality car with world-class after sales service.
From the outside, this hot little hatch strives for simplicity of line. VW have given it a muscular physic with a sporting character shoulder-line running along its side. Up front Halogen headlights combined with integrated turn signals blend into the lines of the face. There is a black and distinctly narrow front grille with a honeycomb-looking air inlet and a U-shaped chrome strip. A colour-coded bumper and angled headlights gives the new Polo quite a dynamic expression. At the back the styling is less conventional with back cluster lights being strongly geometric in shape and squaring off a less cuddly and more imposing looking car than before.
Buy a car like this and you will have a choice of two specification grades – Trendline and Comfortline. The Polo features a driver-orientated front fascia with a large but uncluttered surface. The three-spoke steering wheel can be leather-bound and, as an option, include multi-function controls for radio and telephone. Seats are well appointed and the steering column is adjustable for height and reach. An optional multi-function display gives real-time driver information within a direct field of vision. Trendline models come standard with front power windows and power steering; Comfortline adds items such as the multifunction leather steering wheel, power wing mirrors, power windows all round and climate control. The new Polo has 952 litres of luggage capacity and storage compartments in all doors including holders for 1.5 litre bottles in the front.
When it comes to power and transmission the new Polo comes in plenty of options to choose from. Starting with the upgraded 16-valve 1.4 and 1.6 naturally aspirated petrol engines, then onto a revised 1.6 litre turbodiesel model, a range-topping 1.6 Tiptronic and; new to the line up – a 1.2 TDI BlueMotion variant. Added to these already mentioned are two 'Cross Polo' versions and a mechanically tweaked Polo GTI. Engines are mated to five-speed manual gearboxes with the only automatic being a six-speed Tiptronic for the range-topping petrol model.
Of all the cars for sale in its class, Volkswagen says that its new Polo is one of the safest to drive. With a 5-star EuroNCAP rating, passengers in the Polo can rely on a proven safety system. There are airbags for the driver and front passenger, including a front passenger airbag deactivation function, and combined curtain and side airbags. Added to this is ABS and EBD, Isofix anchors all round, a rigid and improved impact resistant frame, rear fog lights for added visibility and a high level brake light bar.
The new Polo is bound to gain a lot of attention in the local market, especially with its wide choice of engine variants and specification levels. While it is not the cheapest car in its class, (its rivals are Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris, Opel Corsa), the new Polo certainly has appeal as a 'proudly South African' assembled vehicle with a reputation of excellent after-sales service. Pricing starts at R160 100 for the 1.4 Trendline Polo and goes up to around R228 400 for the 1.6 TDI Comfortline Polo. (Prices are subject to change according to various factors so please consult your dealer for the latest price.)