It’s pricier to buy than its rivals, but a well chosen second-hand Polo will repay your investment
The Volkswagen Polo has long stood for big-car quality in the small car market. That’s good news because if you can’t afford to buy new, there’s a wide choice of very solid used examples waiting to be picked up.
Here, we’re looking at the Polo from 2009-2014. This is pleasing to drive and has a cabin which feels classy as well as being genuinely usable – and you can get one for as little as £3000.
We’d suggest spending more than that, however, because all it’ll get you is a leggy, early example. Bung on another £1500 and you’ll find plenty of 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol models worth having.
These are more common than diesels, as befits a car bought mainly for urban use. The early 1.2 is a bit underpowered, however, but the 1.4 is ideal – as is the later, turbocharged 1.2. The 1.2 TDI is good, too, though it’s a dieselgate engine so there’ll be some letters coming your way if you buy one.
That’s not a problem as such, but a noisy timing chain on the 1.2 petrol would be. We’d suggest being wary of the DSG auto box, too, as it’s less reliable than the manual.
Look for worn brakes and front tyres, too, and give the vehicle a thorough general inspection. We’d reject anything without full service history – there’s so much choice around that you don’t need to settle for second-best.
Which model to go for? Speed freaks will say the GTi, whose twincharged 1.4-litre engine gives it a searing turn of pace, but you’ll be looking at a lot more money. Our vote would be for the Match special edition, whose spec includes alloys, air-con, remote central locking and electric windows front and rear.
Either way, a Polo will cost more to buy than a comparable example of any of its like-for-like rivals. Its running costs will hold steady, though – and when you come to sell it on, assuming you’ve looked after it you should get a good chunk of your money back.