Five or three?
The fifth-gen Polo, especially in 77TSI form, is a cracking drive that's both affordable and easy to live with.
The Polo comes in both three- and five-door hatchback flavours. The entry-level Trendline is a three-door proposition, while the 66TDI and 77TSI (pictured) are five-door-only models. The range-topping GTI can be had as either.
Take your pick
Three petrol engines are available in the Mark V Polo: a 63kW/132Nm 1.4-litre for the entry-level Trendline, a 77kW/175Nm turbocharged 1.2-litre engine for the 77TSI (pictured), and a 132kW/250Nm 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine for the GTI.
One diesel (the 66TDI) is offered and is equipped with a 1.6-litre turbo that has 66kW of power and 230Nm of torque.
World of sport
The Golf, like many other VW cars, is named after a wind — in this case, the German name for the Gulf stream. The Polo, however, is just a play on words; with Golf also being the name of a middle-class sport in English, the marketing whizzes at Volkswagen named its smaller brother after a rather more aristocratic pleasure pursuit.
The boot handle combines cool with functionality.
The tail-light design makes the Polo instantly recognisable at night to car spotters.
The wing mirrors feature LED indicators. The lights spill over the edge and are easily visible to the driver, which can be a little bit distracting.
The interior does a fine impression of being a Golf, shrunk down to size.
Resting arms, part I
The centre armrest lifts up and out of the way, which is handy because when it's down it makes engaging the handbrake difficult.
Resting arms, part II
The centre armrest's bin is lined, so things don't clatter around as much when you're hurrying through corners or riding roughshod over speed bumps.
Out of sight
The rear headrests have an L-shaped cross section, so when they're not in use they don't block the driver's rearward vision.
Boot space in the five-door is rated at 280 litres. While the 60/40 split-fold rear seats don't lie completely flat, they can increase luggage capacity up to 952 litres.
A 12V accessories outlet and two luggage hooks live in the boot.
Hide it away
Handy slide-out trays live underneath both front seats. They're not quite big enough to hold a 10-inch netbook, though.
Hints of luxury
The metal-plated trim pieces add a touch of class to the cabin and because they have a matte finish, they won't blind you with glare in bright sunlight.
Just one cup
Rear-seat occupants in five-door models have to fight over the single flip-down cup holder. There's also a map pocket mounted on the back of each of the front seats.
Sight for sore eyes
The glovebox features a moulded rubber bin for glasses, but misses out on lining.
Don't look back in anger
All Polos come with power windows featuring one-touch operation for the driver's window. The power mirror switch should really be turned around 90 degrees.
The clear black and white screen in the instrument panel can show fuel consumption stats, trip details, average and current speeds, and distance until empty.
Ridin' through the rain
Some of the trip computer controls are on the wiper wand, while others reside on the instrument cluster. Rain-sensing wipers are optional on all Polos.
Volkswagen's six-speaker RCD310 audio system is standard through the Polo range, as is a CD player and auxiliary connection. The RCD510 system is an option and sports a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, SD card slot, USB slot, six-CD stacker and optional iPod/iPhone connectivity.
Steering wheel audio controls are standard on the 66TDI and 77TSI. Bluetooth hands-free is an optional extra; if it's not fitted, the microphone button acts as a mute switch.
More music and drinks
An auxiliary jack is standard on all Polo variants, but if you want to access MP3s stored on USB sticks or SD cards, or control your iPod/iPhone through the stereo you'll have to pay extra.
Two cupholders lie in front of the transmission lever, while each of the front doors has a moulded spot for larger bottles.
Set to cool
Climate control air-conditioning is an option on every Polo model.
Head and shoulder room in the rear is fine in five-door models; however, the backrest is a bit vertical for our liking. Leg space is tight when the front seats are pushed all the way back.