Good: improved driving qualities and engine.
Not so good: remains one of the more expensive choices.
The Volkswagen Polo in many ways is like an old family friend. Its compact dimensions and styling give it much more character than simply being 'a smaller Golf' and over the years it has become quite a popular car on these shores. Helping to continue that popularity has been smart styling, which, even though it has now come in for a mild mid-cycle update, remains largely unchanged on the outside. Visually it has dated very well thanks to a somewhat safe design - it is a very inoffensive car.
Not that that is a criticism; far from it in fact. It would be very easy for the Polo to pale into dullness, but thanks to an excellent chassis and a new range of engines, the small Volkswagen remains one of the best cars out there for the money. And should you choose to spend a little extra by moving up the trim levels, you will find yourself with what can be an excellent package for the urban commute.
In the case of the Comfortline Plus tested here, the 'Portago' 16-inch alloy wheels (standard on this specification), privacy glass across the rear windows, 'dark red' rear tail lights and black mirror housings help to give it quite a premium look, especially with the 'Cornflower Blue' paintwork.
Inside is where the latest Polo really excels though thanks to increased levels of refinement by way of better sound insulation, which, in conjunction with improved engines, give the Polo the kind of refinement that many of its rivals still strive to replicate. Dynamically it isn't the most thrilling car to drive. Instead, the Polo is a comfortable, surefooted supermini that has more than a touch of class to it. You can of course push the limits with it but you will only be met by safe levels of understeer, and despite the perkiness of the engine off the line, its 90 horsepower won't get you into any great amounts of trouble.
Spend even a brief amount of time in the Volkswagen and it becomes instantly obvious as to how it has become such a popular choice amongst buyers. From the ergonomic layout and use of higher quality than average materials on the inside to the simple, concise design of the exterior, all of which is underpinned by what is still a very good chassis. It may be a safe bet to some, but it is also a wise choice that thankfully still has plenty of character.