Volkswagen Polo Mk5 (Typ 6R) review, problems, specs
The fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo (codenamed Typ 6R) debuted in March 2009 at the Geneva Motor Show and for 2010, it was chosen the European Car of the Year. The same year, the Polo added a new distinction under its belt when it secured the 2011 World Car of the Year award during the New York International Auto Show. The model rests on the same platform used by its VW Group cousins Seat Ibiza Mk4 and Audi A1 while borrowing design cues from the Golf. It is also wider, lighter and more spacious compared to the VW Polo Mk4, which translates into slightly improved practicality.
- plenty engine choices
- smooth ride on the highway
- well built
- 1.4-liter petrol variants are all you need
- 1.2-liter TSI BlueMotion
- hefty price tag
- not that fun to drive
Stay Away From
- entry-level 1.0-liter models
- 1.2-liter petrol versions
Known Problems & Recalls
- the front tires will wear quickly, so keep an eye on them before and after you've bought an used model
With a broad range of engines to choose from - especially after the facelift operated in 2014 - VW's supermini offers solutions for all needs. To start with, the Volkswagen Polo Mk5 can be fitted with a 1.0-liter petrol unit available in two power outputs: 59 and 74 HP.
We recommend you opt for this unit if you're going to use the car mostly around the city. For longer trips, there's the 89 HP 1.2-liter TSI engine as well as a turbocharged 108 HP 1.2-liter TSI unit.
Also, there's a turbocharged 1.4-liter TSI petrol mill with Active Cylinder Technology good for 148 HP, but the facelift focused on bringing a 1.0-liter BlueMotion-imbued unit available with 58 or 74 HP.
In the diesel department, VW also introduced plenty of choices. There's a 1.4-liter diesel unit available in two power iterations - 74 and 89 HP - plus the 75 HP 1.2-liter TDI BlueMotion unit introduced in 2010. In addition, the 2014 facelift brought a duo of three-cylinder 1.4-liter diesel plants with 73 and 88 HP.
Volkswagen engineers improved one of Polo's weakest sides, which up until this model was the car's unpolished behavior outside the city. In fact, the VW Polo Mk5 keeps its around-the-city credentials just as good, while also providing low levels of noise and smooth riding on the highway.
Bodyroll was also reduced, and the steering was tuned to offer a tad more feedback and precision. Overall, the fifth-gen Polo keeps all that safe and secure handling it displayed around the city but takes it on A-roads as well.
Volkswagen improved the safety levels for the Polo Mk5, which meant the car was now awarded five out of five stars (instead of four, like its predecessor) after undergoing the compulsory Euro NCAP crash tests.
Safety-wise, the Polo comes with ESP as standard, as well as four airbags, ABS and an anti-whiplash feature. The 2014 facelift brought post-collision braking and driver fatigue detection systems plus auto cruise control.
Four adults will travel in more than decent comfort conditions inside the Polo Mk5. More than two grown-ups in the back seat are too much, but three children will sit nicely at the back.
Noise reduction is the big change as far as this Polo is concerned. The cabin is well isolated from tire, engine and wind noise even at superior speeds. The suspension found the best compromise between rigidity and softness so your back will be protected even on bumpy roads, also because the seats are very comfy.
The driving position offers excellent visibility, and all the buttons and commands are 'wrapped' around the driver in an ergonomic fashion.
There's no doubt that the Polo Mk5 is the most upmarket supermini available in the segment. Everywhere you look or touch you'll find quality, starting with plastics and ending with the seat upholstery. Overall, the car suggests reliability and high build quality.
Cargo space went up to 280 liters, leaving Mazda2 (250 liters) behind but still unable to surpass the likes of Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (285 liters) and Ford Fiesta (290 liters).
Also, the rear seats are split-foldable and help with carrying bigger items, and there's also a false floor integrated inside the trunk, useful for stacking various objects.
The glovebox is air conditioned and quite generous in size, but you'll also find pockets in any of the four doors - with one of them being larger.
The standard Polo comes with a five-inch colour touchscreen, CD stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio, but on higher trim levels you'll find aircon, rear parking sensors, a trip computer and a 6.5-inch tactile display.
As an option, clients could get a satellite navigation system and the MirrorLink feature - the one that emulates the display of your Android device on the car's multimedia screen. All the graphics are crisp, and the menus (including the navigation interface) are glitch-free.
As far as the petrol engine are concerned, fuel consumption stays inside the 50-60 mpg interval. Moreover, frugality is the name of the game when it comes to BlueMotion versions and diesel units. For example, the 1.2-liter TSI BlueMotion is good for 68.9 mpg while the 1.4-liter diesel drinks on an average 67 mpg.
However, the absolute champion of fuel economy is the 1.2-liter TDI BlueMotion unit, thanks to its impressive 91.1 mpg fuel consumption rating.
Every Polo Mk5 is fitted with a six-speaker audio system, CD stereo, central locking, height and depth steering adjustment, electric windows, steel rims and power steering.
As you go up the equipment ladder, manual air-con becomes available, along with 15-inch alloy wheels, electric side mirrors, trip computer, auto air conditioning as well as an infotainment system operated through a 6.5-inch tactile display.
After the facelift had kicked in, the SE Design trim offered 16-inch alloys, front fog lights and front sport seats coupled with aluminum pedals.
The top-of-the-range SEL level topped that with rear parking sensors and a central armrest between the front seats while optionals include adaptive cruise control, metallic paint and heated front seats plus a sat-nav system.
The Volkswagen Polo evolved from generation to generation, and the result is an all rounder car. It was already a pleasure to drive the Polo around the city, but the supermini can now handle longer trips out of town without compromising comfort. However, all these advantages come at a hefty price compared to the car's rivals. Nonetheless, you'll get all the bang for the buck so think of a sound, long-term investment.