Think archetypal German hatchback, and the Volkswagen Golf inevitably springs to mind. The generation-spanning Golf is rightly held up as the gold standard for all modern family hatches, but let’s not lose sight of the success of its little sibling the Polo. With 1.4 million global sales under its belt over five separate incarnations, 2017 sees the classic German supermini reinvent itself once more. This is the sixth generation Volkswagen Polo.
Compared to the last all-new Polo that emerged back in 2009, the sixth generation of the big-selling hatch is longer and wider with a good deal more wriggle room both in the cabin and in the boot. Indeed, as a yardstick for the very literal expansion of the supermini sector, the case of the 2017 Polo is particularly apposite. Take the fourth generation Golf – a 2003 vintage -, park it beside this fledgling Polo and the remarkable similarity in size is immediately palpable. It’s a very visual metaphor for the way in which the Polo – and other superminis of its ilk – have expanded to satisfy our ever more ravenous appetite for space.
So, what of the 2017 model’s aesthetic credentials? Henceforth marketed as a four-door only model, the 2017 Polo comes in a trio of basic trim derivations; Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Top of the pile, Highline spec takes the base Polo recipe, with its new grille, longer bonnet and redesigned LED headlamps, and mixes in a multifunction steering wheel, leather-trimmed gear shift lever as well as 15-inch alloy wheels.
Meanwhile, fans of the previous gen Polo Beats edition, the fruit of VW’s linkup with the legendary US headphones giant, will not be disappointed. The sixth generation retains its ties with Dr. Dre and features a Beats edition from launch, bringing a host of goodies including 16-inch alloy wheels and black painted exterior mirror housings to the Polo party on top of the synonymous 300-watt high-grade sound system.
If the only sweet music you enjoy is the sound of a growling exhaust, the old-school thwack of the Polo GTI is back to conduct that particular orchestra. Now powered by 197bhp a 2.0-litre TSI, the 2017 incarnation of the rip-roaring hot-hatch gets a sport-grade chassis plus a specially designed bumper with integrated spoiler lip and fog lights as standard. The trademark red GTI stripe splices the unique honeycomb radiator grille at the front, with an ample roof spoiler and diffuser joining those rowdy twin tailpipes at the rear. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 18-inch equivalents selectable from the options list. Elsewhere, more aggressively flared side sills and red brake callipers help get the adrenaline pumping even before you strap yourself into the GTI-emblazoned sport seats.
197 horses of GTI bite come from the range-topper’s 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. If, however, its economy rather than power you’re interested in, the tamer Polo derivatives come with a nine-strong roster of powertrains; six petrol, two diesel and – for the first time in VW history – 1.0 TGI powered by natural gas. This innovative methane-based unit may not be the fastest selling option from launch given the relative dearth of fill-up points around the UK at this point in time. Nevertheless, for those keen to go green, the TGI offers a generous 89bhp, providing a viable and competitive alternative the petrol line-up, whose 1.0 – 1.5 litre engines range from 64 to 148bhp in the power stakes. Opt for diesel power, and the 1.6 TDI will serve up either 79 or 95bhp in its two guises. Of these, all but the least powerful variants are available with VW’s sharp-shifting 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
In addition to pioneering new power options, the 2017 sixth generation Polo debuts another world first from the German stable. Volkswagen is rolling out its new generation Active Info Display on-board the new Polo, meaning clearer graphics and a more intuitive layout for the instrument cluster as well as an all-new infotainment system. Through its 6.5 or 8.0 inch display, you’ll be able to keep tabs on the new Polo’s array of driver-assist systems, many of which filter down from the more premium Golf and Passat. Besides City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Monitoring, a particular highlight is Adaptive Cruise Control, bringing semi-autonomous driving at speeds of up 130mph to the Polo family for the first time.
The page opens on the sixth instalment of the Volkswagen Polo saga later this year. Exact pricing details and more precise spec for UK-based customers will be issues in the coming months.