Volkswagen Polo a little sweetie with a premium feel

The Volkswagen Polo supermini feels like a premium car that’s been shrunk in the wash.

The Volkswagen Polo supermini feels like a premium car that's been shrunk in the wash. - Credit: Volkswagen

Volkswagen's Polo supermini is a car that punches above its weight when it comes to quality and image and makes and sound, reliable used buy.

Used Car: Volkswagen Polo (2002-09)

Engines – Realistically, if you don't plan on racking up the miles, one of the small-capacity petrol motors will be fine. They are quiet, refined and surprisingly frugal. Mile-munchers will appreciate the frugal nature of the diesel units, although some rival offerings are quieter.

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Exterior – This generation Polo is possibly the most mature-looking to date, although it retains all the familiar Volkswagen styling cues. Larger than you initially think, the hatchback towers above some so-called superminis and city cars.

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Interior – The Polo offers passengers a quality cabin and trim materials that are easily equal to that of much larger and more expensive cars. It's also a spacious cabin, and getting two adults in the back should be a straightforward exercise – even in the three-door model.

Driving – Never promoted as a sporting car, this version of the Polo is likely to appeal mainly to mature or undemanding drivers. Think Golf (refined, capable) and you've got the idea. The various engines all prove willing, although the older technology diesel units can sound noisy when cold. And despite its size, the Polo is a surprisingly good long-distance cruiser.

Ownership – A solid and dependable car, the Polo is unlikely to let you down. It might lack the frills or surprise features of some rivals, but it will do whatever you ask of it. Unlike some cheaper offerings, the Polo feels like a premium car that's been shrunk in the wash.

What to look for – Used by many as a city car, parking dents, kerbed wheels and general signs of abuse should be your priority. Unusual noises from the steering or suspension could signal accelerated wear and tear, while a tired interior and gaps in the service history should have you looking elsewhere.

Model history – 2002, Volkswagen launches new Polo compact hatchback. Good range of petrol and diesel engines offered, alongside big-car levels of build quality and refinement. Modest levels of standard kit, although a long list of options was available.

Reasons to buy – Solid build quality, high-class cabin, engine choice, image.

Reasons to beware – Modest standard equipment, conservative looks.

Pick of the range – Polo 1.2 Match three-door.

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