Just testing: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI SEL 115hp

VW’s supermini has the smarts on the competition, but quality comes at a price

By Tim Gibson

When the Volkswagen Polo arrived on my driveway, I felt a surge of interest. Of all the cars I’ve tested over the years, the one that lives longest in my memory is the 1.9 TDI Polo I drove for a week some time in the late 1990s. It was nippy, fantastically economical, and had a reassuring big-car feel that belied its diminutive proportions.

Oddly, I hadn’t driven a Polo in anger since then, so I was excited to see if the Mark 7 would live up to its stylish antecedent.

Within a second of settling myself behind the multifunction steering wheel, I was convinced that it does. The new Polo retains all those hallmarks of VW build quality that the manufacturer’s admirers have come to expect: a solid clunk when the doors are closed, beautifully crafted switchgear that feels as if it could withstand a nuclear attack, and clever engines that deliver performance and economy in equal measure.

Though let’s be clear. No one takes the official fuel economy figures published by car makers literally any more. So when you read that the 1.0-litre turbo-charged petrol engine on this model returns 60.1mpg on the combined cycle, you know to take it with a pinch of salt.

But then you drive the car, as I did, for a run that includes a good stretch of motorway and smooth A-road and you realise that the figure is pretty accurate, after all. According to my maths at fill-up, I got just less than 60mpg out of the Polo. Given the ever-growing price difference between petrol and diesel (10p a litre when I topped up), that makes it a pretty economical option in this class of car.

It goes like the wind, too. Once you get the turbo spinning, every one of the engine’s 115 horses is unleashed in emphatic fashion. And because the car handles like a go-kart, you can have an awful lot of fun on winding country roads.

On faster routes, the Polo still has that big-car feel I so relished in its predecessor. I’m used to driving a Volvo, and the little Volkswagen didn’t feel in any way outclassed by the big Swede. I felt extremely secure as I travelled alongside large lorries on the M5, and safety features such as autonomous emergency braking bring further peace of mind to driver and passengers alike.

Add that to the generous specification on this SEL model, including touch-screen sat nav, leather-trimmed steering wheel and adaptive cruise control (a £600 option, but worth every penny), and you have a recipe for a winning package.

While the £18,695 on-the-road price may seem a little steep in comparison to similarly specced competitors from the likes of Ford, Hyundai and Vauxhall, it is worth remembering that Volkswagens depreciate at a glacial pace. The result is fantastic deals on private contract hire or personal contract purchase. So you can have this high-spec VeeDub on your drive for a very reasonable monthly cost.

Of course, you’ll need to be able to live with a car that remains fairly dinky, despite that lovely feeling of strength and durability. And when you consider that you could move up a class of car by choosing a less premium manufacturer, you may be tempted to seek a bit more bang for your buck elsewhere.

If you feel that way, here’s my advice: ask yourself whether you really need the extra space. If you know that life will be a mass of irritations by trying to squeeze yourself into a car that isn’t really big enough, then go with the higher-value option. But if you know that space for two or three people and their gear is all you need, then treat yourself with the Polo.

As with that version of the model I drove in the 1990s, this VW really is a class apart. Which just goes to show: quality costs. But boy is it worth it.

On test

  • Volkswagen Polo 1.0TSI SEL 6-speed manual
  • 115PS
  • 1mpg on combined cycle (official figure)
  • 0-60mph in 9.5 seconds
  • 107g/km CO2 emissions
  • Price: £18,695, plus £600 for adaptive cruise control (but look for brilliant deals of PCH and PCP)

Tim Gibson has written about cars for 25 years. His work regularly appears in The Daily Telegraph and other national media.

Published: 29 March 2019

© Copyright Just Recruitment 2019

If you liked this article you may like to read – Just testing: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 2.0 (170PS) Turbo D Elite Nav

You may also like to read – Just testing: Vauxhall Astra 1.4T 150PS Elite Nav

Jobs currently available

New job
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.

Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site

Requirements:

  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more
New job
Legal Secretary (Part-Time)
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: Up to £11.00 per hour
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910868
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting an established business, based in Witham looking to add a highly-skilled secretary to their long-standing team.

The role will involve, audio typing, preparing documents, answering the phone, dealing with enquiries and assisting colleagues as well as directing queries as needed.

Key responsibilities to include:

  • Audio typing – dictation
  • Preparing letters and drafting documents
  • Handling diaries and booking appointments
  • Answering the phone and dealing with queries
  • General secretarial and office-based duties

As well as having experience in a secretarial position, you will have audio typing experience and excellent typing skills. The role requires you to have a good level of IT literacy, experience of Word (essential) and Excel would be useful. You will take pride in your work and have a caring and sympathetic nature.

Please note this role is part-time.

This is a great opportunity, offering a good pay rate and company benefits.

Read more