2018 Volkswagen Polo offers forbidden fruit in many forms

The 197-horsepower Polo GTI sounds like an absolute riot.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

Volkswagen has offered its miniature Polo hatchback in Europe since 1975. Now in its sixth generation, the 2018 Polo grows a bit, both in terms of its physical size and what it brings to the table.

Like many other new cars, the Polo is slightly larger than before -- it's now about the same size as a fourth-generation VW Golf from 1997. Its look is pretty close to the Golf's, albeit with a more tapered rear end and a front fascia that looks a little more squished. It's like Volkswagen took a Golf and ran it through a press -- which makes sense, since both are built on VW's MQB platform.

2018 Volkswagen Polo
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2018 Volkswagen Polo

Only 25 more years until this Polo GTI is eligible for US import...


The Polo takes more of a unique approach inside. Sure, the steering wheel and gearshift are the same, but the dashboard is way different, surrounding both the gauge cluster and the infotainment system with a splash of color. The Golf is a drabber, more monochromatic affair.

Tech-wise, the Polo received a massive bump for its sixth generation. It can wield popular safety systems like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. Keyless entry is available for the first time, as is a digital gauge cluster that replaces actual gauges with a configurable display. LED headlights, wireless phone charging and active dampers help round out one seriously thick options list.

Speaking of options, there are nine different engines available in the 2018 Polo. There's a 1.0-liter, 89-horsepower natural gas engine, as well as two different 1.6-liter diesels. There are four 1.0-liter gas engines, a 1.5-liter gas engine and a 2.0-liter. All feature manual transmissions, but only five of them (one diesel, four gas) offer a two-pedal solution.

That last gas engine, the 2.0-liter, is part of something special -- the Polo GTI. With 197 horsepower on tap, it's a proper hot hatch. Adaptive dampers are optional, GTI badges are everywhere, the wheels are bigger and the brake calipers are red. The interior features the same plaid cloth as the Golf GTI, which makes it even better. If there were a single Polo that I wish the US would receive, it's this one.

However, it's unlikely that any Polo will come over to the US. The Golf remains VW's smallest offering, and with a variety of body styles and engines on tap, it seems to satiate the US market to where the Polo would only compete against the Golf itself. Besides, we're all interested in crossovers these days, anyway.

2018 VW Polo proves variety really is the spice of life

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