Volkswagen Polo

BlueMotion 1.0 TSI

VW Polo, front action
VW Polo, side action
VW Polo, rear static
VW Polo, dashboard
VW Polo, badge
VW Polo, rear seats

NO wonder cars don't have their engine size stuck on a boot badge any more - it might simply put off potential buyers.

They would, if the car driven here hinted at what sat under the bonnet, reckon a mere one-litre (999cc to be precise) was not up to the job and go looking for something bigger.

But they'd be wrong. So wrong that after a decent drive of this little charmer they might consider anything larger as a pointless self-indulgence.

For pulling this Polo along is a titchy three-cylinder petrol engine that manages to combine more performance than you'd dream possible, with the chance to feel smug about saving the planet.

Especially as it comes fitted to the BlueMotion petrol version of the Polo, which means it's honed to slide more economically through the air with special (but subtle) changes to the bodywork and fitted with tyres that roll with less resistance.

The result is a car that touches 69mpg in the official economy test (nearly always highly flattering) but which will top 50mpg in real life with a bonus of feeling like an eager spaniel straining to be let loose on the common.

Add in a snappy gearchange that would sit happily in a sports car and light clutch and brakes and here is a car built to save money that feels as though it had a fortune lavished on it.

Which it had, with the VW Group spending more on research and development than any company on earth - although you fear a tug on the reins coming as the current emissions scandal threatens to drain the coffers.

You sense the depth of engineering from the way everything just works as you'd expect it to - so hardly ever any need to dig out the handbook to discover what a button does, for instance.

If you ever did open the pages you'd find them as crisply set out and written as a High Court legal judgement, the result again of spending the time and money to get it right.

Look past the slightly austere feel of the interior and you discover fit and finish that would not disgrace a much more expensive machine - with clear instruments and switches that work with an oily precision.

There's plenty of room up front and enough space in the rear seat for a couple of adults, although taller passengers will find legroom a bit snug. The boot has a deep lip but is plenty big enough for a family shop.

On the move there's a lovely muted thrum from the engine and a little more emphasis on ride comfort than sporting prowess (take a Fiesta for that) but you sense that's what a Polo buyer is looking for.

The Polo is VW's second biggest seller in the UK (after the Golf) and is available in a range obviously aimed to pull in as many punters as possible, with prices stretching from a £11,495 60 horsepower three-door to a 147mph GTI at nearly double the money (£20,970).

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 1.0 TSI

Price: £15,605

Mechanical: 94bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 119mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.9

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 94g/km

Bik rating: 13%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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