But do you really need a Golf? This is the question I asked myself as soon as I saw the new one VW Polo 2021. With the mid-career restyling, the sixth generation of the little German is more complete than ever. New technology, space and functionality from a higher category, an elegant and inconspicuous look and the usual now proverbial substance. Polo has everything to be there perfect everyday companion. Will it be able to meet these expectations? Thanks to the dealer Giacomel brothers from Assago, I tested a brand new Polo version 1.0 TSI Style. Will he have given me the opportunity to answer the fateful question? Here is the test drive that will give you all the answers on the little German.
The history of Volkswagen Polo: 46 years and 15 million units… in the shadow of Golf. Until today?
Let’s start with a very brief overview of the history of Volkswagen Polo, which is often considered only as the younger sister of the legendary Golf. Data in hand, however, Polo is one of the most popular and best-selling cars of the Wolfsburg manufacturer. In his 46 years of career, in fact, it was sold in over 15 million copies, second only to the legendary Golf and Beetle.
Despite an exceptional sales result and content that transformed it from the spartan and economical small car of 1976 to the compact capable of being the only family car of today, however, Volkswagen Polo has always lived in the shadow of its older sister. The kinship with Golf has brought many advantages, such as a technological level often shared with Polo, a brand that is stronger every year and a style that has always winked at the queen of compact cars.
Among the six generations of Polo, however, the biggest leap came with the current AW1. The first Polo to exceed 4 meters, it offers more interior space for people and luggage than the 2003 Volkswagen Golf V, and first-class mechanical and technological equipment, identical to the contemporary Golf. Today, VW Polo 2021 is renewed: the restyling, called AE1, brings many news, from a new, more mature look to technologies from a higher category.
From the outside, VW Polo 2021 edition is mature and elegant – and what a bright signature in the dark!
To understand where the new VW Polo 2021 has changed the most, let’s start immediately fromaesthetics, which does not distort the lines of the sixth series of Polo but the evolve, making the car even more elegant and mature. On a dimensional level, however, nothing has changed. VW Polo 2021 is also long 4.07 meters, 1.75 meters wide and 1.45 meters high. We are therefore faced with acompact car, but already substantial: by now it is normal for the compact models of Segment B to exceed 4 meters in length, which has now remained an “insurmountable limit” only for the most nostalgic. To make you understand the dimensions reached, in fact, just think that the Volkswagen Golf III, launched in 1991, it was exactly long 4 meters, a good 7 cm less than our Polo. How times change …
From the outside, however, Polo manages to conceal its dimensions well. Has a very compact car body, and thanks to the generous width for the segment has aexcellent presence on the road. The credit, however, is also of aesthetic novelties, that changed Polo’s look a lot, giving it one something extra. Let’s start, for once, from rear where we find the biggest news of the restyling. After having made some very large and square headlights a Polo signature, today we find some at the rear optical groups, full LED as standard, which reflect the Golf signature and other Volkswagen cars. Today the rear light cluster comes to “Overflowing” on the boot lid, increasing the sense of width of the body. Also behind we find a bumper without real or fake exhausts on the Style version, the new VW logo and the name Polo in the center with a renewed font.
On the side, the news are few: we have new rim designs and little more. However, we note how this Polo has black window moldings, mirrors and roof: a detail that does not distort the aesthetics, but makes our example less classic. We were very happy to try one “normal” version, a style with average accessories: This is a version that will go a long way among Polo customers, and its look with 16-inch Palermo wheels is elegant but still modest. We then come to the front, who sees gods new front light units, Full LED standard on the whole range but equipped with Matrix IQ.Light technology on our Style version. These new headlights are thinner and more elusive, and give a more dynamic look to the front thanks to the redesigned, sportier bumper. Both front and rear, then, by choosing the IQ.Light headlights you earn the dynamic direction indicators.
Finally, by choosing the Matrix IQ.Light headlights you are entitled to a detail that I really liked, that is the thin LED light strip which runs horizontally throughout the front grille, also redesigned, and that joins the headlights. Already during the day it can be appreciated, but as you can see at night it gives something more to the little Polo. Always at night the Matrix headlights amaze, illuminating for hundreds of meters in front of us. Ultimately, the VW Polo 2021 hasn’t become a sports car or a flashy car. The usual, classic Polo remains: substantial, elegant but discreet, especially in the classic metallic gray of our test. Today, however, thanks to the full LED headlights as standard, the Matrix technology of the IQ.Light headlights and the new sharper and more dynamic look, Polo is more mature, elegant and poised. From the outside, the leap with the small cars of just 10 years ago is already huge.
Inside, the surprise: VW Polo 2021 has a lot of space, and materials that bother much bigger rivals …
Looking at it from the side, we notice the step of 2.55 meters, very broad for the category. From the outside, therefore, one would expect aexcellent habitability for the segment. And that’s exactly what VW Polo 2021 maintains: it space both in front and behind as well as for luggage. The front seats are well spaced, never giving that shoulder-to-shoulder feel of the compacts of a few years ago.
The space behind the legs and shoulders is also good, and the centimeters are also sufficient for the head. Of course, those over 1.85 m tall will touch the ceiling, but we are still talking about a car of just over 4 meters. Where it even dwarfs some compact higher segment is instead in trunk. Great, come on very squared regular shape, also offers the double bottom (o controbaule as Fjona likes to say) and a cubic volume of 351 liters, also perfect for long journeys.
So, inside the Polo is as spacious as some higher-class cars. But these are characteristics we already knew: what are the news of this restyling? Inside, VW Polo 2021 introduces a new rufflee, sportier and still with physical controls on the spokes, e a new platform for the dual zone automatic climate. Despite having the capacitive touch keys, it is very easy to use even on the move and is very distracting: an example of how touch controls can be beautiful and useful. After all, the entire layout of the dashboard is easy and very rational. All the controls are there where you expect them, easy to operate while driving and the lines are rigorous, elegant and clean. And right here we notice a nice increase in the quality of the dashboard and interior.
Now, the top of the dashboard is made of soft plastic on all versions, and on the more equipped Style and R-Line there is a new one central molding, in this case painted in anthracite gray, which increases the feeling of quality inside. A feeling of well-made product that is also given by seats, in fabric very pleasant to the touch and extremely comfortable, from the steering wheel and gear lever in leather e by the total absence of noises, creaks and annoyances of any kind. The arrival also on Polo delle configurable ambient lightsthen, at night, it gives a lounge atmosphere that until a few years ago was reserved only for the most luxurious cars.
The big news are technological: ADAS, headlights and connectivity from superior category cars
The great novelty of this restyling, however, is the debut of many technological systems, many already present as standard on the basic versions. From the Polo base, for example, the digital instrument panel 8-inch. On the more equipped versions such as our Style, the screen becomes the known 10.25 inch Active Info Display, clear, full of information and easy to read. At the center of the dashboard, on the other hand, the system of infotainment 6.5-inch with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Going up the set-up, the 8-inch Discover system as on our sample, while on request it is possible to reach 9.2 inches. Both of the larger systems, then, carry with them Android Auto ed Apple CarPlay wireless, both integrated very well into the screen. The system, however, has the penultimate version of the MIB 3 operating system of the Volkswagen Group.
Although on paper it looks like a defect, actually this system is extremely proven, easy to use and super intuitive. Of course, the graphics are not the latest, and the latest additions such as intelligent voice commands or the start page with widgets are missing. However, these waivers allow you to have a fast and complete system, even easier than the most advanced VW systems. The other innovations, however, go beyond the classic infotainment. To begin with, theapp WeConnect. This application allows you to open and close the car remotely, check its position, average consumption, the amount of petrol in the tank and also to set a destination in the navigator. In addition, it is even possible to add optional autonomously, such as the 4G hotspot or the activation of the navigation system if not present at purchase. To steal the show, however, is the arrival of the level 2 autonomous driving.
In fact, the most important safety systems arrive on VW Polo 2021 which until just 5 years ago were pure utopia for such small cars. In fact, the Lane Assist, the assistant for involuntary lane invasion, and the automatic emergency braking. Our Style version instead has the Adaptive Cruise Control and the Travel Assist, that is the system able to autonomously maintain the lane on the motorway. If, on the other hand, we had tested a version equipped with the automatic gearbox, we would also have the Traffic Jam…