Volkswagen's latest entry model offers plenty of room and big-car features, but could do with more oomph
Leisurely Polo: Volkswagen's latest entry model offers plenty of room and big-car features The Volkswagen Polo is nearly 30 per cent stronger structurally, making it one of the safest cars in its segment.

The Volkswagen Polo, like many other cars, has grown. The latest model has crossed 4m in length and 1.6m in width for the first time, making it the size of a third-generation Golf.

This is good news, if you are looking for more room in an entry-level Volkswagen. With a wheelbase of 2,551mm, the new Polo offers adequate legroom for second-row occupants.

Actually, rear space is as generous as what you would find in a longer wheelbase. In front, the car impresses with a sizeable footwell and plenty of headroom - despite the presence of a sunroof.

Boot space has also grown, by 25 per cent to 351 litres, giving the Polo hard-to-beat versatility among small cars.

Volkswagen says the sixthgeneration model is nearly 30 per cent stronger structurally, making it one of the safest cars in its segment. This solidity is obvious when you are on the go and each time you close the door or boot.

Elsewhere, the latest Polo strikes you as something which is far less austere than before. It has a 10.25-inch "active info display" - a fully digital instrumentation panel which you can toggle at the touch of a steering-mounted button.

Next to this is an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen which seems to be an extension of the info display. It features soft-touch controls, which give off an audible click when selected. This is far friendlier than the "haptic feedback" screens found in more sophisticated luxury models in the Volkswagen family.

The system is Apple and Android compatible.

The Polo comes with four USB ports - two for rear occupants. This is again an unrivalled feature among its peers. The problem here is at least one of them is extremely "sticky", making extraction rather difficult.

The higher Beats grade tested here features a 300-watt Dr Dre sound system, with an eight-channel amplifier, digital sound processor, subwoofer and six speakers. Its superiority, however, is not obvious under normal-volume operation.

Other big car features include Park Assist (although unnecessary for such a compact car), driver fatigue warning and reverse camera.

Unfortunately, the Polo does not have the go to accompany the show. Beneath its bonnet is a 999cc three-cylinder turbo engine, which often feels overwhelmed by the car's stature and heft.

Mated to a familiar seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which can be controlled manually via steering-mounted tabs, the car must be driven in Sport mode if you want to arrive at your destination on time.

Its ride is surprisingly thumpy, with damping and bodyshell responding somewhat harshly to uneven tarmac. The car, however, is a competent performer in the handling department.

Still, the car is a tad livelier than the Golf 1.0. But that is not saying much. What it needs really is a bigger, beefier engine.

But if you prefer versatility over verve, the Polo is not a bad deal. It is extremely frugal, with a tested 6 litres/100km economy figure, which is not far from its official 4.9 number and was achieved in Sport mode entirely.