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Volkswagen Polo

29. May 2018 03:56, allautotool

Volkswagen's Polo. There's something just that little bit special about it. Those clever men and women behind such iconic and era defining vehicles as the Beetle and the Golf GTi certainly have a knack for making compact cars. When the air-cooled engine of the beetle became superseded by more modern, water-cooled powerplants, and when the Golf began to grow bloated and put on weight with each successive iteration, the engineers at VW found themselves once again with a supermini-shaped hole and without a supermini-shaped peg to plug it with.


Cue the Polo. Legend has it, marketing chiefs at Volkswagen chose the name ‘Polo' because, like ‘Golf', it is a sport widely associated with a social upper-class; and while the original Mk1 Polo may have looked up rather than lived up to those lofty connotations, I can happily inform you that the opposite is in fact true of the current model.


I don't mean to imply that the new Polo has suddenly appeared, well-built and sophisticated, after so many years of mediocrity within an oversaturated market. Rather, the car before us today is the product of those many years devoted to refining the original car.


That's not to say that it's been an entirely plush ride either: the engineers from Wolfsburg seemingly ignored some of basic principles of automotive design and construction when they built their third sub-compact car, however today's Polo stands testament to both the successes the marque has enjoyed, and also to those failings suffered over the course of its lifetime. From the woeful build quality of the cars first off the production line, to the exhilaration of the record-breaking, supercharged MkII G40 variant; the current car really does feel like it has learned from every lesson.


My first ever experience of driving a car was in a first-generation Polo. I drove figure-eights in a good friends field and in spite of the fact that under my command the universal joint on the steering column failed, we remain friends to this day. Even with my youthful exuberance launch x431 pro mini, I found it hard to find merit in the car. Most people, when asked to recall their first driving experience, talk of the liberty and exhilaration of the experience. I on the other hand, am more likely to mention the cramped interior or the sluggish 1100cc engine. Bear in mind these are the observations of a fifteen year old!


But each time the Polo had a makeover or a revision, the same Volkswagen engineers that had fumbled the ball during the car's initial production Autel MaxiSys MS906BT, found ways to make up for their miscalculations. And they kinda over compensated...


The MkII G40 I mentioned earlier displaced just 1300cc but generated 115bhp. It reached 62mph in an impressive 8.1 seconds and could achieve a top speed of 122mph. Since the G40, Polo's have been quick.


The MkIIIF had an entirely galvanised body and chassis mated with an over-engineered electrics and engine management system. I once installed aftermarket door speakers in a modern Japanese supermini, and the door cards were made of pressed plastic and behind them the door panel itself was made of what appeared to be wafer-thin tin. I did the same to my Polo GTi manufactured in the same year, and the corresponding door card was made out of a super-dense fibreboard with a plastic and fabric external covering and a medium-density foam internal filling to act as a sound dampener. Since the MkIII, Polo's have been reliable and well built.


And now we're on the MkIV, which is in fact approaching the end of its production cycle. With the next model scheduled to debut at the Geneva motor show later on this year, I wonder what we'll say its contribution to the Polo legacy has been. Will we say ‘since the MkIV, Polo's have been economical and environmentally responsible? The Polo BlueMotion would have it so. With a 1.4l diesel engine which returns up to 72mpg while outputting just 99 grams of CO2, it's certainly possible.


One thing is for sure though, right now, with a new version on the horizon, there are some exceptional deals to be had throughout the current Polo range. From humble beginnings, the current Polo has evolved into a sophisticated and distinguished car.

Jon Barlow is a writer and motoring enthusiast currently writing for the automotive industry. Here he talks about the Volkswagen Polo
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