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  • Segment-busting tech suite
  • Well-packaged interior
  • Smooth, refined drive
  • Gets pricey with options ticked
  • Running costs aren't cheap either
  • DSG's laziness off the line in traffic
Not tested

Few light segment hatchbacks have the class of the Volkswagen Polo.

Named after the centuries-old sport synonymous with elite society, the little hatchback is known for being a little bit fancy in the world of entry-level transport.

I guess Mini-Golf doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, nor Putt-Putt, but the Polo goes a long way to emulating the traits of its larger stablemate. It’s part of the reason why my little sister bought one, as she loved that it was like a baby version of my Golf.

While sales of light vehicles continue to fall, the rising cost of living and fuel could mean big opportunities for cars like the Polo; which offers big car space and feel in a cheaper, more economical package.

It offers some flagship tech and features from higher up in the Volkswagen range, and its teeny-tiny little turbocharged petrol engine offers decent go as well as near-hybrid levels of efficiency. What’s not to love?

The Polo punches well above its weight.

How does the Volkswagen Polo fare vs its competitors?
View a detailed breakdown of the Volkswagen Polo against similarly sized vehicles.

How much does the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style cost?

The Polo 85TSI Style starts at $31,200 plus on-road costs, which is incidentally $50 cheaper than when the facelifted range launched last year.

It’s the most expensive non-performance Polo variant on sale in Australia, and fully optioned you’re looking at closer to $35,000 before on-roads or about $40,000 drive-away.

Yes that’s big money for a little car, but as noted in the introduction, the Polo packs a lot of space and high-end features into a compact footprint – more on that later.

It’s worth noting the Polo has lost some features temporarily from September 2022 production due to component shortages, despite our test car being a decked-out MY22 example, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Volkswagen has confirmed it plans to reintroduce this equipment, which will likely be met with nominal price rises, once it comes back online at the factory.

2023 Volkswagen Polo pricing:

  • Volkswagen Polo 70TSI Life 6MT: $25,750
  • Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Life 7DSG: $28,750
  • Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style 7DSG: $31,200
  • Volkswagen Polo GTI 6DSG: $39,250

Prices exclude on-road costs

What is the Volkswagen Polo Style like on the inside?

The grown up look and feel of the Polo continues inside the cabin.

Volkswagen already had one of the benchmark light car interiors with the pre-facelift iteration of the Polo, and it didn’t really need to change much to keep it there.

The mid-life update brought less dramatic revisions to the cabin than the exterior, which was already quite a subtle set of changes in itself.

Volkswagen’s new steering wheel sits ahead of an updated 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro virtual instrument cluster, and unlike the GTI it does without the fiddly touch-capacitive multifunction controls. Tick.

The brand’s latest infotainment powers the 8.0-inch touchscreen neatly integrated into the dashboard fascia, and as tested with the optional Sound & Tech Package, it packs embedded navigation as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in addition to DAB+ radio.

It all makes for quite an upmarket and tech-laden experience, and definitely is one of the best setups in the class.

My only gripe is that the Sound & Tech pack doesn’t add the larger 9.2-inch touchscreen exclusive to the Polo GTI locally, but offered in regular grades elsewhere in the world. With this display, the Polo Style would be far and away the technology benchmark in the segment.

That option package also brings a six-speaker Beats premium audio system with 300W output and eight-channel amplifier. The upgraded sound system definitely has some punch, but dial it up too much and it might make the hard door plastics and windows shake.

Speaking of the door trims, the Polo’s mix of materials isn’t quite as good as most larger vehicles its priced against, but again it’s arguably challenging premium light cars in terms of cabin execution.

The dashboard is soft to touch and feels as good as what you’ll find in a Golf, but the hard, scratchy plastic used for the doors is a stark contrast. At least all the main touch points feel high-quality, including a leather steering wheel, solid leather gearshift, and padded cloth rests for your elbows on the centre armrest and door cards.

Even the seats and headliner feel high-end, with the front pews in particular being upgraded Comfort Sports units that don’t feel that different to the front chairs fitted to my Mk7.5 Golf GTI.

There’s a great balance of bolstering and comfort dialled in, and the manual adjustment offers good range for the front seats and the steering wheel so taller drivers like myself (6’1) can get comfortable. It again plays to that bigger car feel.

Between the front seats is a pair of small-ish hexagonal cupholders that aren’t as practical as the rounder, toothed units you’ll find in more expensive Volkswagens, and the front-centre arm rest cubby is a little skinny and shallow – but, numerous cars in the segment don’t even have an armrest here.

Elsewhere, storage solutions are pretty good. There’s a big cubby under the centre stack complete with a wireless phone charger, and big door pockets that can hold larger bottles – but no cloth lining.

Again, it all plays to the Polo’s mature and upmarket pitch.

The Polo’s second row again is one of the best in segment for space and comfort, though it loses ground to its Skoda Fabia platform mate here.

Leg-, head- and knee room are above average for the class, and the seats themselves are more comfortable than you’ll find in most rivals beyond the Volkswagen Group stable.

It’s a shame the Polo misses out on directional rear air vents, which the Fabia scores. It does offer a pair of USB-C charging outlets which are handy, as well as map pockets behind the front seats and bottle holders in the doors.

Kids are catered for with ISOFIX anchors on the outboard seats and top-tether mounts behind all three rear positions.

Behind the second row, the 351-litre boot is again up there with the best in class, and is only about 30L off a Golf. The Fabia offers 380L which is line-ball with vehicles from the segment above.

This expands to 1125L with the rear seat backs folded in standard specification. I say ‘standard specification’ because the Sound & Tech Package optioned here eats into boot space a bit as the Beats audio system’s subwoofer takes up the underfloor storage.

While Volkswagen doesn’t quote a figure for the Style with the option pack, the GTI’s 305L/1079L seem representative. The Polo Life and Style get a full-size 15-inch steel spare wheel, as opposed to the GTI’s space-saver.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Polo 70TSI and 85TSI models are powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

In 85TSI guise, the turbo triple makes – you guessed it – 85kW (5000-5500rpm) and 200Nm (2000-2500rpm). Drive in the high-spec tune is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto as standard.

Volkswagen quotes a 10.4-second 0-100km/h time, and thrifty combined fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100km. CO2 emissions are rated at 123g/km (combined).

The entire Polo range is homologated to Euro 6 emissions standard, and features idle stop/start technology. 95 RON premium unleaded is the minimum octane rating required for the Polo’s 40-litre fuel tank.

How does the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style drive?

Not much has changed about how the Polo drives – and that’s no bad thing, either.

The Mini-Golf vibe continues to the on-road experience, with the Polo offering a quiet, refined and comfortable all-round drive that feels that little bit more polished than the bulk of its competitors.

Unlike some rivals with three-cylinder engines, the Polo’s 1.0 TSI is never unrefined or thrashy, with a muted and charming tone that has that signature unbalanced sound but is well suppressed compared to something like a Toyota Yaris.

All 200Nm is available from 2000rpm, meaning there’s occasional of lag off the mark as the turbo spools up and the DSG gets into gear, but once you’re moving progress is strong and linear, which is all that you need really.

In fairness it can take a bit of getting used to, as there will be times you’ll be caught out for a beat before it gets on the power. You can drive around it by anticipating when you need to get running and letting off the brake early to have the idle stop/start to fire the engine before you need to get moving, or just turn the system off altogether.

You can also flick the transmission into S to get more immediate response.

The Polo is also one of the few vehicles in this size segment that can genuinely be a capable highway cruiser, if you’re looking for a cheap car that can do regular road trips in comfort and refinement.

With a long seventh gear, meaty mid-range, and excellent technologies like Travel Assist in combination with a well-engineered chassis tuned for more than just city driving, the Polo is more than equipped for Australian freeways.

It feels as planted and stable as anything in the segment, and provided you’re not looking to do a lot of country-road overtaking manoeuvres, it’ll happily cruise along at 100-110km/h without much fuss.

No other vehicle in this segment has the Polo’s level of high-speed stability and refinement, perhaps with the exception of Audi’s related A1 Sportback, which helps the Polo make a great case for someone looking to downsize from a larger car.

Further, at any speed the Polo has one of the quietest cabins in the segment. Gut gemacht Volkswagen

In town the Polo’s ride and handling is taut and errs on the firmer side, but is compliant enough to iron out the bulk of inner-city imperfections.

The 16-inch alloys don’t like harder impacts like the smaller 15s on the Life, but it’s far from crashy or unrefined in this respect.

Further, the Polo turns in predictably and accurately, balancing the line between engagement and comfort well. If you want something distinctly sporty best to look at the go-fast GTI or even the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150.

Like most cars in the segment the Polo runs a torsion beam rear suspension setup and a MacPherson strut front design. It’s definitely a little sharper at the rear compared to IRS-equipped MQB stablemates, but again it’s still ones of the leaders in its class for overall comfort and refinement.

Another Polo strong suit is the array of driver assistance technologies available, and in Style spec there’s enough features that are good enough to be in premium vehicles – it does share its underpinnings with an Audi, after all…

Travel Assist is one of the smartest semi-autonomous highway assists out there, accurately keeping you centred in your lane without trying to wrestle the steering wheel from your hand, and the adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist smartly keeps a safe distance from the car in front without being too conservative.

The Polo will come close to driving itself when you need, and the touch-capacitive steering wheel means you won’t be subject to beeping and bonging if you’re not making constant steering inputs – rather, just have contact on the rim.

Our test car’s blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems were also handy, but keep in mind if you’re getting a recent build you’ll miss out on this tech.

I’m also a huge fan of the inclusion of Matrix LED headlights on a vehicle in this segment, which work like the units in cars more than twice or three times the price. Dynamic Light Assist has fun animations and sequences as the different light segments come online, which is a cool touch in a $31,000 car.

What do you get?

Polo Life highlights:

  • Cruise control
  • LED headlights (reflector type)
  • LED tail lights
  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • 8.0-inch Digital Cockpit
  • 8.0-inch Composition Media touchscreen
  • Wired App-Connect (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto)
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Leather multifunction steering wheel
  • Comfort cloth upholstery 
  • Front seat lumbar adjustment
  • Automatic headlights
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Auto dimming rear-view mirror
  • Illuminated front vanity mirrors
  • Front centre armrest

Polo Style adds:

  • Comfort Sports front seats
  • 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro
  • Travel Assist
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Adaptive lane guidance
    • Traffic Jam Assist
  • Park Assist (auto reverse parking)
  • IQ.Light Matrix LED headlights
  • Dynamic Light Assist (adaptive high-beam)
  • Illuminated LED grille strip
  • Premium LED tail lights incl. dynamic indicators
  • Dual-zone climate control air
  • 16-inch alloys
  • Front Fog lights
  • Interior ambient lighting


Vision & Tech Package: $1700 (Life DSG)

  • 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro
  • Satellite navigation
  • Voice control
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Travel Assist
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Adaptive lane guidance
    • Traffic Jam Assist

Sound & Tech Package: $1900 (Style)

  • Satellite navigation
  • Voice control
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Beats premium audio system
    • 6 speakers
    • 300W output
    • Digital 8-channel amp

Panoramic sunroof: $1500 (Style)



  • Pure White

Metallic and Pearl Effect: $600

  • Vibrant Violet
  • Reflex Silver
  • Smokey Grey
  • Reef Blue
  • Deep Black

Is the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style safe?

Facelifted versions of the Volkswagen Polo wear a five-star ANCAP rating with 2022 date stamp.

With its updated safety suite against the latest criteria, the new Polo scored an impressive 94 per cent for adult occupant protection, 80 per cent for child occupant protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and 70 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety features include:

  • 7 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Parking sensors front, rear

Polo Style and GTI add:

  • IQ.Light Matrix LED headlights
  • Dynamic Light Assist (adaptive high-beam)
  • Blind-spot monitoring*
  • Rear cross-traffic alert*
  • Park Assist
  • Travel Assist
    • Adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go
    • Lane centring

*Temporarily unavailable from September 2022 production due to ongoing component shortages

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

As with the wider Volkswagen range, the Polo is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Additionally, 12 months of roadside assistance is included, and can be extended annually up to nine years provided you service your vehicle with an authorised Volkswagen dealer.

Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first. You can save money in the long-term by pre-purchasing a three- or five-year service package. The former is priced at $1350, and the latter $2300.

According to the Volkswagen Australia website, the five-year plan saves between $636 and $794 over paying as you go, which includes the first 12-month/15,000km service thrown in for free. The three-year plan saves a quoted $166-$295.

In terms of real-world fuel consumption, we saw an indicated 7.0L/100km during our week of testing which included mixed road types but skewed towards peak-hour commuting.

We know it’s capable of getting low sixes and high fives with more cruisy driving, but if you want the most efficient light car the Toyota Yaris Hybrid will use half the fuel, and can run on 91 RON.

CarExpert’s Take on the Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style

The Polo Style could well be the pick of the range.

With the $1900 Sound & Tech Package optioned, it offers all the features you could want and then some, mixed in with a level of refinement and polish that few rivals in the segment can match.

It’ll cost you, though. Where many rivals will top out around the $30,000 mark even after on-road costs, the Polo with options will be edging the $40,000 barrier one it’s in your driveway – which is a fair whack for a light car.

That’s not to say it doesn’t go a long way to try and justify its price. With benchmark infotainment, Matrix LED headlights, and some of the best assistance tech in the business, the Polo is a little luxury car masquerading as something more mainstream.

Looking at Volkswagen’s online configurator, you can get a car that looks like this one for $38,670 drive-away if you don’t opt for the sunroof. I think that’s the ideal Polo spec, given that still comes in cheaper than the drive-away price of an absolute base Mk8 Golf.

Game of putt-putt, anyone?

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Volkswagen Polo

James Wong

James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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Overall Rating

Cost of Ownership6.5
Ride Comfort8
Fit for Purpose8
Handling Dynamics8
Interior Practicality and Space8.5
Fuel Efficiency7.5
Value for Money7
Technology Infotainment9
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