Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatch
Price: $18,790 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 66kW/160Nm 1.2 4cyl petrol | 7spd dual-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.8 l/100km | tested: 6.6 l/100km
TMR recently had the highly featured (and heavily optioned) Volkswagen Polo 81TSI Comfortline in the garage. We didn't half mind it.
But that car got us to thinking about its ‘salt of the earth’ range-mate, the lower-specced 66TSI Trendline.
We got to wondering what kind of penalties buyers of the lower specification model might have to endure - besides lacking the obvious luxury and safety items that come with, or can be optioned, on the Comfortline.
And we have good things to report. There's a few little changes here and there that alter the package, and it may look a little more bland, but it rarely feels that way.
After putting it through TMR's legendary deep-cycle analysis, we’re pleased to announce the Polo 66TSI Trendline loses little lustre to its more expensive siblings. Read on to see why.
- Five-inch touchscreen colour display.
- Six-speaker audio with Bluetooth phone and audio.
- Cloth seat trim, power windows, remote central locking, cruise control.
- Boot space: 280 litres (seats up), 952 litres (seats down)
There’s a sombre tone to the Polo interior - with a palette of grey-on-grey plastics and fabrics. Nothing too pulse-raising about the design, but it is simple, clear to understand, and easy-to-use.
While there isn’t much in the way of ornamentation, and plenty of hard surfaces at play, the interior feels well-built and with a level of finish some light cars can only dream of.
It would be nice to maybe see a basic set of steering-wheel controls for audio, but the Trendline goes without. Cruise control is standard though, which in the give-or-take stakes is probably the better thing to have.
There’s a typically Germanic firmness to the seating, and though the seats are fairly flat it isn’t hard to perch comfortably in them.
A tilt and reach-adjustable steering wheel and generous driver’s seat height-adjustment make finding the perfect position easy.
The front seats are spacious, but the rear bench feels a little tighter and can feel a bit pinched for legroom.
Touchscreen audio controls with a colour display are still a rare find at this price point and with a punchy six-speaker stereo, featuring MP3 playback plus Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, the Polo’s infotainment system excels.
Swing open the tailgate and luggage space measures 280 litres, growing to 952 litres with the split folding rear seats stowed.
There’s also a two-level boot-floor allowing small items to be hidden from view if required.
ON THE ROAD
- 1.2 litre petrol turbo inline four cylinder.
- Seven-speed dual clutch auto, front wheel drive.
- Four-wheel disc brakes, vented front/solid rear.
- MacPherson front suspension, torsion beam rear.
- Speed-sensitive electro-mechanical power steering.
- 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers.
Turbocharging and direct injection work hand-in-glove to provide power, low emissions, and an official fuel consumption of just 4.8 l/100km.
We’re not ones to hypermile at TMR - we drive to match traffic and conditions, much like we expect you will.
Doing so netted us 6.6 l/100km - still a decent figure, especially considering how punchy the Polo feels.
Once again, thanks to the turbo and the healthy torque figures, the Polo pulls strongly from low revs. There’s no need to spin it to the redline constantly, it can handle city commuting without breaking a sweat.
If you didn’t know the power outputs, you could easily think the Polo is more powerful than it is. Away from town, confident overtaking is just a flex of the right ankle away, with plenty in reserve should you need it.
When coupled to the optional seven-speed DSG automatic the Polo isn’t exactly quibble-free though. This gearbox still lacks refinement when moving from standstill.
Trying to smoothly perform a three-point turn or a parking manoeuvre is near impossible - there’s more lurching and shunting than there should be.
That said though, once rolling, the gearbox is glass-smooth and never causes a disruption.
Noise is well suppressed; there can be a bit of engine-ring at high RPM, but very little noise at cruising speeds.
Ride comfort is fantastic - the last Polo we drove had 17-inch wheels and sports suspension and was fairly firm riding as a result.
This car, on 15-inch wheels with taller sidewalls and softer standard suspension, was able to cope with every expansion joint and speed-hump we threw at it.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.96 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: All Polo models come standard with stability control and traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist and six airbags (dual front, side, and full-length curtain front and rear) as well as Multi-Collision Braking, to prevent roll-on accidents in a collision.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s a huge carpark of potential options in this market sector, and they vary greatly. Some might prefer the familiarity of a Holden badge, but the Barina is somewhat lukewarm overall.
Ford’s Fiesta on the other hand feels a closer match, but the button-heavy interior feels a step behind.
Europhiles may feel better served by the Peugeot, the 208’s interior in particular is great, but the car is saddled with an unexciting four-speed auto. Same goes for the Hyundai Accent, but it is solid value at least.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Surprisingly capable, well-featured and with enough restrained style to give an impression of quality: the Polo certainly knows how to make the right first impressions in the dealer forecourt.
Take it out on the road and the news it still good - and turn up the radio if that’s your thing, you’ll see what we mean about the audio quality.
It’s hard to find black marks against the Polo; there is such a strong value equation here.
We’d love to see steering-wheel audio controls and better low speed response though - and one of those things can be fixed by choosing the manual model instead.
But, in among a sea of competitors the Polo stands out clearly as a very good offering.
A cut-price Golf if you like, and better than most.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
The 2015 Volkswagen Polo range is available now, with retail pricing as follows:
- Polo 66TSI Trendline 5MT: $16,290
- Polo 66TSI Trendline 7AT: $18,790
- Polo 81TSI Comfortline 6MT: $18,290
- Polo 81TSI Comfortline 7AT: $20,790
- Metallic paint: $500
- Driver Comfort Package: $1500
- Sport Package: $1500
MORE: Polo News and Reviews
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