Volkswagen Polo Review: 2011 Model | Polo | Car Buyers Guide

2011 Volkswagen Polo Review

This car indicates just how much the Irish Government needs to rethink the bands in its current emissions-based taxation. Band A covers cars that emit from 0-120g/km and Band B from 121-140g/km. As 2010's new car sales figures illustrated, cars with higher emissions than Band B are in the minority and they're a dying breed. Surely buyers of cars with emissions as low as the Polo BlueMotion's (at 91g/km) deserve to pay less road tax?


Efficiency is without doubt the primary reason that anyone will buy the latest green (or is that blue?) model from Volkswagen. The Polo has established itself as the highest-quality supermini on the market, and this one apparently uses just 3.5 litres per 100 kilometres (on that mythical combined test cycle). What's not to like?


Even before you get behind the wheel, it's obvious that there are few compromises to be made. The new Polo BlueMotion actually looks like a sporty version of the hatchback thanks to its lowered suspension, standard front fog lights and neat 15-inch alloy wheels. Factor in the BlueMotion-specific bumpers, roof spoiler and piano black radiator grille, and this is actually a great-looking car.


The interior is less of a treat. It retains the mostly tactile and well-built quality of the regular car's cabin, but the rough-to-the-touch BlueMotion upholstery and single-piece folding rear seat back detract from the ambience. Sensibly, Volkswagen has trimmed the simple steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever in leather so at least the bits you touch frequently are not unpleasant. And, as ever, the switchgear is comparable with that in its big brother, the Golf.


Look around the cabin and you're more likely to notice what's missing than what is included, but it does feature cruise control, electric front windows and an on-board computer, along with ESP (Electronic Stability Programme). The money has been spent on fuel-saving items instead, including a very keen stop-start system and the latest generation of low-rolling-resistance tyres.


Obviously, what's under the bonnet has a large influence over the economy. As before, this Polo is powered by a three-cylinder turbodiesel, though now it's of 1.2-litre capacity. Power is modest, at 75hp. However, the torque figure is all that matters here, as the car's five-speed gearbox features distinctly high ratios – designed in a bid to keep the engine revs down. While it takes a little getting used to, it's easy to keep up with traffic in most situations. We found that you have to really push it if you're in a hurry, but surprisingly the economy didn't suffer too badly.


Some people like the offbeat thrum of a three-cylinder engine (me included), but we reckon most buyers will find it odd. Volkswagen has managed to isolate the engine vibration and noise from occupants better than in the previous model, but it's still obvious. You'll be thankful for that stop-start system in traffic.


As with any Polo, the BlueMotion version is a cinch to drive. It slips in and out of traffic easily and its light steering is a boon for parking. The suspension, though lowered in the name of less wind resistance, is distinctly comfortable. It's adept at soaking up badly broken urban lumps and bumps and yet it feels comfortable and stable on the motorway. Although this isn't a car for keen drivers, it does cling on gamely – despite the low-rolling-resistance tyres – and corners quite flatly.


All-in-all, the Polo BlueMotion doesn't ask too much from its owner in return for exceptional economy. The biggest stumbling block is its price. While it looks good value next to the likes of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, those are both significantly bigger. Ford has a 1.4-litre turbodiesel Fiesta on its price list for a lot less cash, but more pertinent is that Volkswagen's own Polo family includes versions that are powered by the same 1.2-litre engine as the BlueMotion, yet cost as much as €2,000 less.


We've said many times before that small diesel-powered cars only make financial sense if you plan on winding on the kilometres at an unusual rate. This is especially true of the Polo BlueMotion. It's an impressively efficient car that manages to be conventional in almost every way, yet there is precious little reason for the average Irish buyer to pay extra for it. Until the Government decides we should be thinking greener again, the Polo BlueMotion is too far ahead of its time.




Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion



1,199cc turbocharged 3-cyl


Output @ rpm

75hp@4,200, 180Nm@2,000



5-speed manual FWD



0-100km/h 13.9 seconds


Top Speed




3.5 litres/100km


CO2 Emissions



CO2 Tax Band

A (€104 p.a.)





Boot Capacity

280 – 952l


Base Price



Price as Tested



On Sale




Incredible economy, great looks, high quality



Price, engine a little too loud






Login to leave a comment

Login with Facebook Login with Twitter