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Monday, May 23, 2022

2022 Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline review

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There’s a new Volkswagen Polo coming to Australia in mid-2022, but the current model isn’t quite done for yet.

Since launch, the Polo has impressed with its grown-up cabin and refined drive, to the point it could almost be called a mini-Golf. City cars aren’t big business in Australia anymore, but the Polo remained a strong seller in 2021.

Not only did it outsell the Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift, and Mazda 2, it was nipping at the heels of the once-best-selling Kia Rio on the VFACTS charts.

It also wasn’t all that far behind the Volkswagen T-Cross, despite the overwhelming market shift towards SUVs. Clearly the Polo has something to offer, then.

Should you snap up the pre-facelift Polo on test here, or wait until May for the higher-tech facelift to touch down?

How much does the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline cost?

The Polo on test here is one step below the range-topping Style, with a sticker price of $23,390 before on-road costs.

Our tester was also fitted with the Driver Assistance package, which bumped the price to $24,890 before on-roads – although similarly-equipped vehicles are listed on the Volkswagen Australia website for around $30,000 drive-away.

The most natural rival for the Polo is the Kia Rio GT-Line, which has a near-identical and – at the time of writing at least – a $27,990 drive-away sticker price. Read our comparison here.

The Honda Jazz is gone, but the Mazda 2 has recently been given an upmarket makeover. The range-topping GT automatic hatch is priced at $26,190 before on-roads. Finally, the Toyota Yaris SX has a $27,130 list price. Based on those comparisons, the Polo represents pretty good value.

Volkswagen Polo (MY21) pricing:

  • Volkswagen Polo 70TSI Trendline manual: $19,290
  • Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline manual: $20,890
  • Volkswagen Polo 70TSI Trendline auto: $21,790
  • Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline auto: $23,390
  • Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style auto: $25,690
  • Volkswagen Polo GTI auto: $32,890

All prices exclude on-road costs.

What do you get?

Polo 85TSI Comfortline highlights:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic headlights
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Rain-sensing wipers

The Driver Assistance package ($1500) fitted to our tester brings:

  • Adaptive cruise control (with stop/go on auto models)
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Semi-autonomous parking assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Power-folding exterior mirrors

That’s atop the following features, which are standard on the entry-level 70TSI Trendline:

  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Remote central locking
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Two front USB-C outlets
  • Manual air-conditioning
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Power windows with auto up/down
  • 15-inch steel spare wheel

Is the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline safe?

The Volkswagen Polo wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP in 2017.

It received an adult occupant protection score of 96 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 85 per cent, a pedestrian protection score of 76 per cent, and a safety assist score of 59 per cent.

All 2021 Volkswagen Polo models come standard with:

  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Front, front-side and curtain airbags
  • Reversing camera
  • Driver fatigue detection

Optional on all bar the base 70TSI is a pack that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, as well as front and rear parking sensors.

What is the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline like on the inside?

The Polo is typically Volkswagen from behind the wheel. The fundamentals are excellent, although it’s not big on excitement.

Although it’s a small car, the Polo feels grown-up and spacious in the front seats. The driving position is excellent, with plenty of space for tall drivers perched on the well-stuffed, cloth-trimmed seats, and the touch points feel high quality.

The steering wheel is lifted straight from more expensive cars like the Tiguan and, given this particular Polo hasn’t yet been treated to its mid-life update, doesn’t feature the fiddly touch controls spreading through the Volkswagen range, while the handbrake is trimmed in smooth leather.

Yes, there are plenty of hard or scratchy plastics spread throughout the cabin, but the things you grab most often all play into the Polo’s premium-ish billing. Even the manual climate controls feel solid, although climate control would be better again.

There’s plenty of storage split across the cupholders, underarm bin, tray beneath the dashboard, and spacious door pockets. You miss out on wireless phone charging, but dual USB-C ports (complete with handy backlight) are on hand up front to keep your phone fully juiced.

As for infotainment? The 8.0-inch system in the Polo is easy to use, and feels more polished than we’ve come to expect from entry-level cars. It has everything you’d expect except for DAB radio, although it’s worth noting the updated model due in May will be offered with a larger 9.2-inch display (and digital radio).

You don’t get a fancy digital instrument binnacle in this spec, but the simple analogue dials and monochrome trip computer have all the information you need.

With no digital dials and a slab of grey plastic on the dashboard, there’s not much visual excitement up front. It’d be nice to see some more colour, or a textured trim piece there to liven things up like what’s offered overseas.

Rear seat space is impressive, enabled by the fact this Polo is actually the same size as a Mk4 Golf on the outside.

Sure, it’s not a Passat, but you’ll get kids back there comfortably, and normal-sized adults will be comfortable enough behind normal-sized adults as well. You wouldn’t want to be perched in the middle seat, but as city cars go this is about as good as it gets.

The dual USB-C ports are a nice touch, although a fold-down central armrest or air vents would make it even more grown up back there. You get two ISOFIX anchor points, and three top tether mounts for child seats.

Boot space is a claimed 351 litres, expanding to 1125L with the second row folded. It’s a broad, flat space that’ll swallow a couple of oversized suitcases, and hides a full-sized spare wheel beneath its floor.

What’s under the bonnet?

Power in the Polo 85TSI comes from a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with 85kW of power and 200Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – although a six-speed manual is an option.

The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 9.5 seconds, and claimed fuel economy is 5.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

The car has a 40L fuel tank, and drinks more expensive 95 RON premium unleaded petrol.

How does the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline drive?

The Polo drives in the sort of grown-up way you’d expect.

The three-cylinder engine is quiet from the second you turn it on, and settles into a smooth idle. It’s still identifiably a three-pot, but it hides the fact it’s unbalanced well.

It has a rumbly three-cylinder sound when you put your foot down, but it’s well suppressed.

Volkswagen is getting better at making its dual-clutch transmissions smooth off the mark when they’re paired with lower-torque engines, but there’s still some low-speed awkwardness when auto start/stop is switched on.

It just takes a beat to switch the engine on, engage a gear, and get moving, which makes the Polo feel a bit jerky.

Once you’re rolling, the DSG is smoother, smarter, and faster than most of its rivals. When you’re light on the throttle it shuffles unobtrusively through the lower gears; put your foot down and it kicks down quickly to drop you right in the meat of the torque band.

Volkswagen hasn’t bothered trying to make the Polo feel sporty. It has unashamedly light steering and a plush ride on its 15-inch alloy wheels, both of which make it a relaxed companion in the city.

Pimply city roads float under the Polo’s wheels, and it’s easy to thread through tight carparks or into small parking spots thanks to its compact exterior and clear reversing camera.

Of course, the softly-sprung Polo feels tall in the corners. There’s a bit of body roll, and the steering doesn’t have a heap of weight to it, neither of which is particularly confidence-inspiring if you’re in a hurry.

Volkswagen would point to the Polo GTI if either of those things is a problem for you.

The Polo feels like a bigger car on the highway. It’s not battered by crosswinds or buffeted by trucks, and you could happily drive it for hours without getting tired. Wind and road noise are well suppressed, and the optional adaptive cruise control system makes long drives less of a hassle.

The lack of lane-keeping is a knock on the Polo, albeit one that should be rectified when the facelifted model touches down in May. The halogen headlights are also disappointing away from the confines of the city.

They’re quite dull, even by halogen standards, and can’t come close to matching LED units.

How much does the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline cost to run?

The Volkswagen Polo is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Maintenance is required every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Volkswagen offers three- and five-year service packages, which cost $1050 and $1900 respectively when they’re prepaid.

CarExpert’s Take on the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Comfortline

The current Polo is almost due for replacement, but it still has plenty to offer.

It boasts the same polished feeling as the wider Volkswagen range, but it does it at a price point that more people can afford. The SUV craze means the T-Cross is hotter property, but the Polo packs all the same strengths.

If you don’t need the latest and greatest, it’s potentially worth looking at snapping one up before the new Polo touches down. It’s still the most grown-up city car money can buy, and punches well above its weight.

The new model will have more technology and a freshened look, but it’s also going to be more expensive – and it’ll share the same engines.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Volkswagen Polo

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