Posted on May 21, 2018
Date of Release: January 2018
Number of Reviews 1
The 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0T Beats is here, sporting a completely new design, a refined interior and a whole lot of new technology upgrades.
With smoother lines, a bolder design, and a front end that looks similar to that of the latest Jetta, the sixth-generation Polo looks more mature and elegant than its predecessors.
The cabin quality of the Beats is likely the best in its class. It is spacious, comes with a trendy two-tone dashboard, and with a healthy level of standard specification, it’s a great package.
Powering the Polo Beats is a sprightly 1.0-litre turbo engine. Although the engine is small, it is responsive and the ride quality is relatively smooth, making it perfect for urban traffic.
For the safety conscious, there’s a wide series of new technologies including: city emergency braking, blind spot monitors, rear traffic alert and active cruise control.
“It’s the launch of the decade” says Carla Wentzel (Head of Brand: VWSA), highlighting once again how much of a BIG DEAL this new Polo is for the German manufacturer. The VW Polo might not sell as well as the Polo Vivo (in terms of outright numbers), but it definitely makes SA’s No.1 passenger brand a lot more money.
The all-new Volkswagen Polo was launched to the press recently and is due at a dealer near you from this weekend onwards. The new range (for now) consists of one engine; a brilliant 1-litre turbo-petrol engine that is available in two different power outputs depending on the spec you choose. As usual, you can choose from a 5-speed manual (6-speed in the Highline) or the brilliant 6-speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox (optional extra).
From a trim point of view, the car is available in your usual VW tiers:
Trendline: this is your entry-level spec, but don’t let that word fool you. Entry-level on this, the 6th generation Polo, is still very impressive. Expect features such as LED daytime running lights, multiple airbags, a fantastic infotainment system, which includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity and best of all, class-leading safety systems:
Comfortline: this spec level is a favourite amongst South Africans. You’ll enjoy the same world-class infotainment system you’ll find in the Golf 7.5, improved sound system (6 speakers), a leather multi-function steering wheel, as well advanced safety systems that you normally only find in “premium” cars:
Highline: the full Monty! In addition to the above, the infotainment system is further upgraded to basically become an extension of your smartphone. The interior will look extra cool at night thanks to LED ambient lighting and you can cruise along (literally, thanks to the cruise control function) in your improved sports seats. You also get Driver Profile Selection (Eco/Sport/Normal/Individual).
Whilst we are normally quite big fans of the Comfortline spec as it provides good balance between comfort and value (incidentally, the new Polo Comfortline is only R2 800 more expensive than the equivalent outgoing model), when it comes to the new Polo, our favourite pick is…
1.0 TSI 70kW Trendline – R235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline – R264 700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSG – R280 700
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline – R286 200 << THIS ONE!
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG – R302 200
Prices include a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty (makes this car an obvious choice if you live on the coast). Service Intervals are at the 15 000km mark.
Sure, the Highline is over R21 000 more than the Comfortline, but it doesn’t only buy you better safety and driving tech, as well as an improved cabin; you get a better car too! The engine is tuned up (85kW/200Nm vs. 70kW/175Nm), the gearbox comes with that all important sixth gear and braking is improved (rear disc brakes vs. drum brakes).
Last year, when reviewing the MY17 VW Golf TSI (1.0T) Comfortline (click here to read the full review), we boldly stated that if we were going to buy a car tomorrow, it would be that one. Well, we’ve changed our minds. It would be the Polo Highline. Also, if we really wanted to spoil ourselves, we would throw in the R-line package too (this is not currently available, but will be from April onwards). The “I wanna look cool” R-line package will set you back an extra R17 000!
Finally, there will be a GTI variant, powered by 2.0l turbo petrol (147kW/320Nm), completing the 0 – 100km/h sprint in just 6.7 seconds. That’s planned to be launched in Q2 this year.
Back to the launch in the friendly city of Port Elizabeth. We jumped into the only other variant on offer – the VW Polo Beats. The Beats is exactly the same car as the Comfortline, but the R12 650 Beats package upgrade gives you a few exterior and interior styling upgrades, but most importantly, an impressive 300w sound system, developed by the brand made famous by Dr. Dre himself.
We immediately synched our phone with one of our favourite touchscreen infotainment systems and let Deezer become our personal DJ for the rest of the day. After a quick high volume sound test which resulted in the “respect” head nod, we turned it down a bit to start discussing the car.
Starting from the outside, exterior styling highlights include:
So – is the new Polo actually a Golf made to look like a Polo? Mmmm – maybe – they do share quite a few parts, but essentially they are different cars. The new Polo is actually the same size as the Golf III. In summary, it’s a good looking car. We just wish it looked more like the pics the internet has been flooded with – i.e. LED head and taillights, more aggressive mag wheels etc.
On the inside, once again, there are a couple of big jumps forward making this the new benchmark in the segment. Interior styling highlights include:
For the most part, it’s exactly what you would expect from the country’s best passenger car retailer – a superbly built cabin. The cabin is also filled with loads of high-quality materials. Two things we didn’t really like – the plastic console around the handbrake looked and felt very cheap. Also, the car doesn’t have inside ceiling grab handles – it’s one of those weird things where if you have them, you never use them, but as soon as they are not there, you notice it.
Interior and exterior styling is one of those personal taste issues. We think the new Polo certainly puts forward a convincing case, but there will be people who prefer what the competitor models have to offer. For example, we think the new Kia Rio has a great cabin. However, one place the argument for competitor models is going to be a lot harder to justify is performance and ride quality.
Like the Golf, the ride quality you experience from the new MQB based Polo is simply sublime! It’s the perfect balance between comfort and handling. Our launch drive included a few coastal backroads that weren’t exactly super smooth. The Polo’s advanced suspension sucked up the bumps, even at high speeds.
Since the national launch of the new Polo, we’ve been monitoring social media commentary carefully. A fairly common sentiment we have found is that people can’t believe you need to pay close to (or over, in the case of DSG) R300k for a 1-litre Polo. Trust us on this – the physical capacity of this engine is completely irrelevant. One can’t think about engines in terms of their cylinder size anymore. Rather go and test drive the car and judge the performance and fuel efficiency for yourself. Like us, you will be impressed. It’s a fantastic little engine that packs a good punch and it sounds good at the same time!
Before we conclude, let’s briefly check how the new Polo lines up with our hatchback lifestyle judging criteria:
The new Beats (manual) will cost you R277 600. So, why did we call the new Polo a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Well, if the extra space that the Golf provides is not absolutely essential to you (and it’s not that much by the way), then which car is the better buy? The engine and platform is practically the same and the car certainly feels and drives as good. If you’re willing to spend a bit extra, you’ll have a car that features the very latest tech VW has to offer. The new Polo is next gen! In our opinion, it’s as good as the Golf, gift wrapped to look like a Polo. A brilliant car indeed! Will the new Polo cannibalise Golf sales? VW is confident it won’t. We’re not so sure – time will tell.
Our only gripe, which is a long standing one with VW, is that you need pay for a bunch of optional extras you would expect to come standard on the top spec Highline. Take our ideal car mentioned above, the 1.0 TSI 85 kW Highline (manual), starting at R286 200. Below is an example of the car, the way we would ideally want to spec it:
MY18 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Highline (manual) – R286 200
Optional extras include:
That is a total of R349 300! When you consider the quality package you get with the Highline, a price of +/- R286 will still grab your attention, BUT when the car you want costs practically R350k – that might be asking a bit too much for a compact hatchback – even if it’s the best one you’ve ever driven. Perhaps the new Beats is the best option after all!
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