Car Test   R0333
  See also R0232  R0251 
May 2003
Brief Test Volkswagen Polo
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.4 FSi SE 5-door
We recently tested Audi’s A4 fitted with its latest 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine; this Polo is the only other FSi from the VW Group so far. This new technical development is going to proliferate, nevertheless, because of increasingly stringent tailpipe emission regulations.
   The car makers are preparing for the next “tightening of the screw”, due to bite in two years time. To help them, the advent of sulphur-free fuel is imminent in the UK, and these FSi engines are designed to run best on such stuff. Nevertheless, any clag that builds up in the exhaust/catalyser on our present diet of 95 unleaded, is cleared by a computer-controlled purging cycle that does its job by periodic enrichment and raised combustion temperature.
   This means that our test car’s fuel economy, though 3mpg better than on the conventional 1.4/75bhp version, will achieve a further economy gain on the right diet – when it becomes available.
   As things stand, our rivals table demonstrates that this heavyish small car now puts the likes of Ford’s Fiesta in the shade, in terms of both acceleration and mpg, although the Japanese trio (Jazz, Yaris, Micra), all with similar power, will do as well.
   In terms of mechanical refinement, it’s marginally less subdued than the 75bhp version and our car’s tank-installed high-pressure fuel pump created a distinct chirrup when the accelerator was pressed firmly. The transition from weaker (stratified charge) fuel delivery mode, to enriched fuel injection (for more power), as you press the accelerator harder, is also evidenced by a slight ‘step’ in the engine’s response at times. It reminded us of that feeling as the second throttle plate opened on a Weber carburettor, twenty years ago!
   On the whole, though, no serious complaints; once the extra £385 is paid for the FSi version, there are useful fuel cost savings, as well as extra overtaking urge. Don’t overlook the lower CO2 emissions, either, which result in lower taxes, especially for the company car user, from next year.
  considering size, price and rivals
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
The Polo loses none of its appeal with this direct-injection petrol engine under its bonnet. Let’s face it, one wouldn’t be considering the Polo at all if first cost was of paramount importance – Skoda and Seat offer similar fine small hatchbacks for less. No, you buy the VW version for that little bit extra – and get that little bit extra. Then, when it comes to trade-in time, you get that little bit extra back.

engine 1390cc, 4 cylinder petrol; 86bhp at 5000rpm; 96lb ft at 3500rpm, belt driven double overhead camshaft, 16 valves and direct injection
drive 5-speed manual, front wheel drive; 20.9mph/1000rpm in 5th; 16.5 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs
wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 185/60R14H tures; full size (steel) spare
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear with standard anti-lock control
tax band B
0-62mph* 12.1sec
official mpg~ 47.9/36.2/58.9
30-70mph through gears 13.0sec
30-70mph in 4th/5th 19.3sec/28.3sec
maximum speed 109mph
CO2 emissions 142g/km
* maker's figure  ~ urban/extra urban/combined

size and type supermini (premium-priced) 3- and 5-door   trim levels E, S, SE, Sport
engines petrol: 3cyl/1.2 litre/65bhp, 4/1.4/75, 3/1.2/55bhp, 4/1.4 with direct injection/85, 4/1.4/100
diesel: 3/1.4/75; 4/1.9/100, 4/1.9/64
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (4-speed stepped automatic whith 1.4/75bhp petrol version optional)
notable features galvanised body - over half of high-strength steel, underbody plastic trim panel, four airbags and ABS standard, electro-hydraulic power steering, semi-automatic air con ("Climatic") on S upwards

HOW THE POLO 1.4 FSI COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
VW Polo 1.4 FSi 4/1390/86 3340 13.0 19.3/28.3 45/142 18/26 108 96/71 2.9/10.2 390
Nissan Micra 1.2 4/1240/80 3470 12.9 20.3/29.2 43.5/143 11/28 104 102/73# 3.2/9.5 372
Ford Fiesta 1.4 4/1388/80 3290 14.1 21.3/32.7 38.5/158 18/26.5 108 98/71 2.8/10.2 392
Hyundai Getz 1.3 4/1341/81 3180 13.8 23.5/34.1 39/150 10/27 104 94/72 3.0/10.3 381
Skoda Fabia 1.4 16v 4/1390/100 3690 10.9 20.0/28.3 40/170 24.5/27 109 100/72 2.8/10.2 396
Toyota Yaris 1.3 4/1299/85 3400 12.0 21.6/29.7 44/144 18/24.5 105 102/70# 3.2/10.2 360
  # rear seat fully rearwards
© The Automobile Association Limited 2019