Review - 2023 Volkswagen Polo

By Alexi Falson on 06 Jul 2023
image for Review - 2023 Volkswagen Polo
OnlineAuto Rating
out of 10
  • Class-leading comfort and driving refinement
  • Generous entertainment & safety equipment lists
  • Clever interior packaging makes for a relatively spacious package
  • Outstanding performance of range-topping Polo GTI
  • Prices creeping north
  • Premium ownership costs
  • Firm suspension on performance-focussed GTI
  • DSG transmission can lurch at times
Volkswagen Polo GTi Specs
    • 40L
    • 150
    • 4390 / 1450
    • 5 star
    • Automatic
The Volkswagen Polo has, for a long time now, been proof that good things come in small packages.

With prices consistently creeping up, though, VW’s smallest and most affordable hatchback is coming under fire from its major rivals on value, though few are able to match it on overall refinement.

Just how good is the latest VW Polo range, then, and how well does it justify its rising price tags? Let’s take a closer look to find out.

VW Polo Competition

VW Polo

Suzuki Swift
Toyota Yaris
Mazda 2
Kia Picanto
Skoda Fabia

Starting Price: $25,750

OnlineAuto Savings: Enquire now

How Much Does It Cost?

The Volkswagen Polo range kicks off here in Australia from $25,750 for the entry-level Polo 70TSI Life manual, with prices rising to $28,750 for the Polo 85TSI Life automatic.

From here, the range moves to the Polo 85TSI Style, which is priced at $31,200, while the range-topping Polo GTI is priced at $39,250.

Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change, and do not include on-road costs.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

Using OnlineAuto’s car buying service in Australia, you could save by using one of our car experts to help you find the best new car for you.

Volkswagen Polo (GTi) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Model POLO
Variant GTi
Transmission 6 SP AUTO DIRECT SHI
Drive FWD
Engine TDFI
Engine capacity 1984
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 4390 / 1450
Cylinders T4
Torque 320
KW 147
Fuel tank size 40.0
Fuel usage specs 6.5 / 0
CO2 150
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Volkswagen Polo car page.

What Features Does the Volkswagen Polo Have?

The entry-level VW Polo Life comes riding on 15-inch alloys, and receives a set of LED head and tail lights, cruise control, cloth upholstery with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, a rear-view camera with parking sensors, an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Stepping up to the Polo Style adds a set of 16-inch alloys along with Matrix LED headlights, an LED grille and premium LED tail lights, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, fog lights, Comfort Sport seats and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.

The range-topping Polo GTI receives a set of 18-inch alloys, keyless entry & start, adaptive suspension system, tartan-upholstered sports seats, GTI styling upgrades, a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters and a wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto upgrade.

Range Features:

  • 15-inch alloys

  • LED head & tail lights

  • Cloth upholstery with leather-wrapped steering wheel

  • Cruise control

  • 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

  • 16-inch alloys (Polo Style)

  • Matrix LED headlights with upgraded tail lights (Polo Style)

  • 10.25-inch instrument cluster (Polo Style)

  • LED grille strip (Polo Style)

  • 18-inch alloys (Polo GTI)

  • Adaptive suspension system (Polo GTI)

  • Tartan-upholstered sports seats (Polo GTI)

  • Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto (Polo GTI)

Is the Volkswagen Polo Comfortable to Drive?

The VW Polo has been around for nearly fifty-years now, and in that time, VW hasn’t gotten complacent about making the baby of the range a super competent all-rounder.

There’s three engines on offer, and if we’re honest, we’d steer clear of the entry-level Polo Life manual which feels underpowered, even in such a small package.

Instead, consider the Life automatic or Polo Style, which pick up a more potent version of the 1.0-litre turbo three-pot pushing out a more respectable 85kW/200Nm, or if you’re hell-bent on terrifying your passengers, the Polo GTI that kicks out a 147kW/320Nm.

“The base model is under gunned, while the range-topping GTI will set your hair on fire; the mid-range engine is just right for everyday driving” Arnaud - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

Power for most of the range is sent to the wheels via a seven-speed DSG transmission that offers super fast shifts, though it is prone to lurching around at low speeds, though this isn’t a huge issue.

All up, the Polo in all forms feels like a smooth and refined little package on the road, and is no doubt one of the leaders of the segment when it comes to easy, zippy driving around town.

The steering is lightweight but offers a healthy amount of feedback, while its stout proportions mean you’ll be able to squeeze into any park and through traffic with ease.

Keep in mind that if you’re opting for the GTI, the ride quality - even with the adaptive suspension system - does suffer due to the stiffer hardware and larger alloys, and will become very noticeable once you leave smooth city streets.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

The VW Polo range is, for the most part, an impressively fuel-efficient hatchback.

While it can’t match some of its hybrid rivals, the official 5.4L/100km combined cycle rating for the base and mid-range three-cylinder engine is bang on the money for the segment.

In the pursuit of speed, upgrading to the GTI brings fuel economy figures up to 6.5L/100km on a combined cycle.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

Volkswagen has given the Polo a mid-cycle upgrade in recent years, with the interior design becoming even more sophisticated.

The end result is, without doubt, one of the most refined cabins you’ll find on the market and shows that while it might be the baby of the range, the interior is a mature and premium affair.

Taller drivers won’t have much of a problem in the front of the cabin, which offers a generous amount of headroom and an adjustable driving position.

The base model picks up a pair of 8.0-inch displays for the driving display and infotainment system, while the mid-range variant picks up a larger 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro system that feels far superior.

“By far the segment leader when it comes to a premium interior design that benefits from a very spacious boot.” Dan - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

While there are some noticeably cheaper parts of the interior design, VW has done a great job in making sure all the important touchpoints feel quality, and there’s a decent array of storage options at the base of the dash, inside the large door bins and inside the folding arm rest.

Move to the second row and there’s a decent amount of space for a vehicle of the Polo’s size, with just enough real estate for taller adults to squeeze in for short trips around town, though it’s at a big advantage over a number of its rivals.

The Polo’s rear seats pick up a pair of ISOFIX anchors and top tether mounts for child seats, while the practicality package is rounded out with a very impressive 351L of boot space, which is one of the largest for the segment.

Is it Safe?

The Volkswagen Polo range has been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and receives a generous amount of safety equipment across the range, though some safety kit is reserved for the mid-range variant and the range-topper.

The list of safety equipment for the base model includes autonomous emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane-keep assistance, a rear-view camera with parking sensors, driver fatigue detection and seven interior airbags.

The Polo Style & GTI are packaged with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, park assistance and travel assistance which adds adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving, though VW has previously paused some safety features.

Be sure to ask one of our car buying specialists to see if Volkswagen has re-added these features to the Polo Style and GTI.

Our Verdict: Is The Volkswagen Polo Worth it?

If you’re looking for a small hatchback that doesn’t skimp when it comes to ride comfort and driving refinement, the majority of the VW Polo range is perhaps the best overall performer on the Australian market.

For buyers looking for a hot hatchback, the Polo GTI is no doubt the pick of the bunch, though keep in mind that the process of making it fast has made it less of an all-rounder on daily drives.

Overall, though, the Polo range remains at the top of the segment, and is well deserving of a spot on your shortlist.

If you’re tossing up your best small hatchback options, get in touch with one of the OnlineAuto car buying specialists who can help out with that shortlist, and find you the best possible price.

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty

  2. Fuel economy figures between 5.4 - 6.5L/100km

  3. Five-star ANCAP safety rating

  4. Three engines available; base model receives five-speed manual

  5. 351L boot space

Looking at your hatchback options? Check out our list of the 10 best hatchbacks on sale here in Australia in 2023


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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