2022 Volkswagen Polo video review: Australian first drive (2023)

  • Doors and Seats

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    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine

    2022 Volkswagen Polo video review: Australian first drive (2)

    1.0T, 3 cyl.

  • Engine Power

    2022 Volkswagen Polo video review: Australian first drive (3)

    85kW, 200Nm

  • Fuel

    2022 Volkswagen Polo video review: Australian first drive (4)

    Petrol (95) 5.4L/100KM

  • Manufacturer

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    FWD

  • Transmission

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    7 Spd Auto (DCT)

  • Warranty

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    5 Yr, Unltd KMs

  • Ancap Safety

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    5/5 star (2022)

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Justin Narayan

00:1403 June 2022

We review the refreshed 2022 Volkswagen Polo range, including the Volkswagen Polo Life, Polo Style, and Polo GTI hot hatch.

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What we love
  • Ride quality and handling
  • Mid-level Polo Style hits the mark of price versus specification
  • High level of standard equipment in all grades

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What we don’t
  • No sub-$30K auto option
  • 1.0-litre engine doesn't match the price tag on more expensive variants
  • Keyless entry should be standard, not an option
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Introduction

The 2022 Volkswagen Polo is the brand's entry-level product in Australia; a title it's pretty much held since arriving here in 1996.

Aside from the adorable, and smaller, Volkswagen Up! that sadly came and went like a flash in the pan comparatively, the humble Polo has primarily been Volkswagen's cheapest car in Australia for ages too.

The definition of 'cheap' has changed, though, and that's before you realise the prices for this new, facelifted and midlife-updated 2022 Volkswagen Polo range are up anywhere from $5000 depending on the model chosen.

It's not a baseless price rise, however, as the update does introduce new and class-leading technology as standard, as we'll discover later in this piece.

The entry-level Volkswagen Polo 70TSI Life – sold only with a manual transmission – starts from $25,250 before on-roads and options. By the time you add your favourite colour, it costs a pip under $30,000 drive-away.

No-one buys manual cars – aside from weirdos like this writer – so we have to look at the automatic model to gauge a true sense of what a Polo really costs.

The 2022 Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Life with seven-speed DSG auto costs $28,250 before on-roads, or around $32,500 drive-away depending on your configuration and location.

Standard features include forward and rearward automatic braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active lane-keeping assistance, 'level one' or basic digital instrument cluster, full-LED headlights (thumbs up), front and rear parking sensors (another thumbs up), and seven airbags with a new front-centre unit for 2022.

Options include $600 for metallic paint, and $1700 for a Vision & Tech package, with the latter introducing a more advanced digital instrument cluster, an improved but same-sized 8.0-inch infotainment system, wireless App-Connect, and adaptive cruise control.

Next up is the 2022 Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style costing $31,250 before on-roads and options, or about $35,000 on the road. Options at this level include $600 for metallic paint once again, $1900 for a Sound & Tech package, and $1500 for an opening panoramic sunroof.

The Sound & Tech package adds the same upgraded 8.0-inch infotainment system with wireless smartphone connectivity, but also adds keyless start and a Beats premium audio system with eight-channel amplifier.

All three of these garden-variety Volkswagen Polos use the same fantastic 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo, albeit in different states of tune.

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Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

The entry-level Volkswagen Polo Life 70TSI manual makes do with 70kW/175Nm, whereas the Polo Life and Style 85TSI models step up to 85kW/200Nm. Factor that in your value equation when assessing the manual transmission too.

Up top of the range is the 2022 Polo GTI. It packs the epic and familiar EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with 147kW/320Nm and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Starting from $38,750 in base configuration and before on-road costs, it means a slightly tickled car on the road will set you back closer to $45,000.

Let's see if the new and refreshed Polo range is worth the coin.

Key details2022 Volkswagen Polo Style
Price (MSRP)$31,250 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carVibrant Violet
OptionsSound & Tech Package – $1500
Metallic paint – $600
Price as tested$33,350 plus on-roads
RivalsSkoda Fabia | Toyota Yaris | Mazda 2
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Inside

Overall, the Polo Style and Polo Life feel upmarket.

Statement pieces like its 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster speak a contemporary language and look expensive. Ironically, however, I believe the dash trims are nicer in the cheaper Polo Life than the more expensive Polo Style.

The cheaper Volkswagen Polo gets a cool, almost textured triangular print on its dashboard and interior plastics, whereas the more expensive Polo Style gets a rather boring sheet of German Racing Metallic (silver) instead.

Not only does the Polo Life's trim look better, but also more expensive at a quick glance. Overall, the interior is simple, well built, squishy where it needs to be, and most importantly rattle-free.

Two things that bother me with the cheaper Volkswagen Polo Life are its manual air-conditioning controls and lack of keyless entry. I can't remember the last time I was in a Volkswagen vehicle – other than a commercial – that had manually operated airflow adjustment.

It's a small point, but it reminds you of your old girlfriend's Mitsubishi Mirage, or at least it did for me. The rest of the centre console is quite nice, with a modern-looking steering wheel with a familiar array of buttons and two fast-charging USB-C ports as well.

The seats are excellent in both the Polo Life and Style grades, with the entry-level car receiving manual lumbar support on both sides. I guess the lack of electric seats – even as an option on the mid Polo car costing north of $35,000 on the road – is just a sign of the times, with semi-conductors and other tech-heavy items being prioritised over the good old basics.

The Polo GTI is a totally different affair. Its interior is dripping in red paint and tartan, just as you'd expect. The second row is relatively spacious considering the class of car, with my 183cm frame able to sneak in the back in relative comfort.

Sitting behind my own driving position, my knees were clear of the seat backs, feet able to kick out in front, and overall comfort levels quite high.

Visibility from the back is excellent, too, and the tallish glasshouse will help those who suffer from motion sickness in a car. Amenities in the back include another two USB-C fast-charging ports and bottle holders in the doors.

Boot space varies depending on the model, with 351L offered by the Volkswagen Polo Life and Polo Style, and a reduced capacity of 305L for the Polo GTI.

Regardless of the size, all three models feature a wide load opening perfect for a compact stroller or child's bike. In terms of usable space, you'd easily fit in a fortnight's worth of groceries alongside your usual work or gym bag.

Spare wheels also vary, too, with a 15-inch steel wheel coming with the non-sports Volkswagen Polos, and a space-saving spare featuring in the back of the Polo GTI.

2022 Volkswagen Polo Style
SeatsFive
Boot volume351L seats up /1125L seats folded
Length4080mm
Width1751mm
Height1450mm
Wheelbase2564mm
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Infotainment and Connectivity

Both the 2022 Volkswagen Polo Style and Polo Life feature an 8.0-inch Composition Media infotainment system with wired connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus digital radio capability (DAB+).

Offered optionally on both models is an updated Discover Media system that introduces wireless smartphone connectivity, native satellite navigation, the ability to change menus by waving your hand in front of the stereo when using the force, and a more complex software system.

Both systems work great, and to be honest, you can live without gesture control and in-built nav', especially as both become redundant with clever smartphone mirroring.

If you opt for the mid-trim 2022 Volkswagen Polo Style, there's also the option of a Beats audio system with dedicated eight-channel amplifier and subwoofer.

Having auditioned both, the Beats audio is worth the ask if you're into your music. The twangy, de-tuned guitar licks from Faraquet's Cut Self Not stood out proud from the mix (as intended), and The Cure's Us Or Them sounded honest, navel-gazy, atmospheric, and as reverby as it needs to.

The standard system is still satisfactory; however, its clarity begins to crumble as soon as you raise the volume to a good (and loud) listening level.

Safety and Technology

The 2022 Volkswagen Polo range earned a five-star safety rating after being scrutinised and tested under the latest 2022 ANCAP protocol.

New additions for the facelifted 2022 Volkswagen Polo range include a new front-centre airbag – a requirement for a smaller vehicle to achieve a five-star rating moving forward.

Every model in the range also features front and rear parking sensors, low-speed automatic braking when travelling forward and backward, a rear-view camera, and full-LED headlights.

The mid-spec Volkswagen Polo Style also receives blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control as standard, with the latter technology offered an an option on the entry-level Polo Life.

2022 Volkswagen Polo Style
ANCAP ratingFive stars (tested 2022)
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report
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Value for Money

Although the best equipped in the segment, there are also cheaper and lesser-equipped cars vying for your attention.

The most obvious one is the 2022 Skoda Fabia runout edition priced from $25,990 drive-away. Although down on equipment, it's made from the same parts, and will appeal to the more austere and rational small-car shopper.

A more alternative choice could be the 2022 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid. At $35,000 drive-away, it's similarly priced, but also offers the benefit of hybrid technology at the trade-off of kerb appeal and interior quality. If you're after something to hypermile and reduce your fuel bill, the Yaris could be the answer.

At a glance2022 Volkswagen Polo Style
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs$1400 (3 years), $2200 (5 years)

Servicing a 2022 Volkswagen Polo is a simple affair. The best and most affordable way is via upfront-purchased service packs. A 2022 Volkswagen Polo Life manual costs $1300/$2150 for a three-year or five-year pack, with automatic versions costing $1400/$2200. A fire-breathing Volkswagen Polo GTI costs a bit more, or $1400/$2750 respectively.

Combined fuel consumption for both regular Volkswagen Polos is 5.4L/100km, and testing on the day saw the trip computer return 6.3L/100km.

Fuel Consumption - brought to you by bp

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Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)5.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)6.3L/100km
Fuel type95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size40L

Driving

To celebrate the launch of the facelifted Volkswagen Polo range, the brand invited us on a quick drive loop through the Royal National Park located 45 minutes south of Sydney's CBD, followed by a quick jaunt around Luddenham Raceway in the Polo GTI.

Starting with the Polo Life and Style, both feel upmarket for the segment. The cabin is quiet, well insulated and well put together, as over myriad surfaces – including coarse-chip freeway stuff with 110km/h speed limits – it never once became loud or overbearing like others in the segment.

Ride comfort is great, too, with fixed, single-setting suspension straddling both comfort and driving dynamics really well. Although a relatively soft and supple city car, the Volkswagen Polo in still an intrinsically European car underneath, meaning faster and curvier roads are no problem either.

If anything it's a little firm, but it's a required trade-off for its inherent composure. The steering is spot on, too, feeling natural and just right – not too fast, nor too many turns lock-to-lock and cumbersome either.

The weather was quite awful on the road loop, with a spate of rain creating generally poor road conditions that can interrupt testing. However, what we got instead was an honest look at the Volkswagen Polo in tumultuous conditions, in a gnarly environment, and where the grip was low.

The standard-fit Continental tyres on both cars held up extremely well, with oodles of traction and composure on offer despite the lack of traction and terrible conditions.

For a small car, it's easily one you could cover ground in between your two favourite rural towns. Not all cars we test feel truly comfortable after a few bends, but it was the biggest takeaway for me personally – testament to the Volkswagen Polo's easy to use and well-calibrated controls, as well as the ride and handling package.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder powertrain is probably the weakest point of the package when assessed objectively, especially considering the price tag. Although not underpowered, it will require motivation up hills with some load in it, as with one person it felt just about right.

Discussing subjectively, I think it's a great motor, and one that sounds great and probably doesn't mind a kick in the guts. Luckily so, as with four adults and luggage on board, you'll certainly be grabbing a lower gear and doing just that.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is well mannered and up to the job, but still features some low-speed snatchiness when trying to reverse park on a slight incline.

Speaking of reverse parking, it's nice to see the passenger-side mirror auto-dipping when you select reverse gear, even in the cheapest Volkswagen currently on sale.

Moving on to the hot-hatch number in the range, the 2022 Volkswagen Polo GTI is still the ever-approachable driver's car it always was. Power and torque remain the same as last year's car, with 147kW/320Nm dispatched just to the front wheels.

Its transmission loses a gear, too, with a six-speed wet-clutch DSG automatic replacing the seven-speed unit found in garden-variety Volkswagen Polos.

Performance is great for the package; however, stand-out points include its steering and general lightness around Luddenham Circuit – a short, slow, tight and technical track – where the Polo GTI felt utterly at home.

Coming down the hill into turns eight and nine usually catches a heavier car off-guard given the inertia, slight off-camber track surface, and left-right switchback. However, the Polo enjoyed this technical part of the track, with some trail braking held deep into the corner helping to keep the front end planted and secure.

It's not a serious hot hatch like its bigger brother Golf GTI or Hyundai i30 N, but it still has the chops to become a laugh in a dynamic environment, as the GTI badge and tartan trim suggest.

The steering feels great in both road and track environments too. Progressive in load-up, short, and just how a hot hatch should be.

Key details2022 Volkswagen Polo Style
Engine1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
Power85kW @ 5500rpm
Torque200Nm @ 2000–3500rpm
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic
Power to weight ratio73kW/t
Weight (tare)1165kg
Turning circle10.6m

Conclusion

The refreshed 2022 Volkswagen Polo range brings new and class-leading tech to the small car segment.

Things like full-LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, and its upgraded safety package will broaden its appeal to downsizers looking to improve their fuel bill, but not at the cost of life's little luxuries.

The price is the biggest hurdle to overcome, however, as a base-model 2022 Polo Life will cost over $30,000 on the road, and comes with manual air-conditioning and old-school key entry.

The mid-trim 2022 Volkswagen Polo Style feels more right, especially if you've already digested the fact your new small Volkswagen will cost over $30,000. It's more expensive again, but has more of those intrinsic luxuries that make it feel upmarket.

After all, that was the brand's mission statement with the product in Australia. Even then, value is always in the eye of the beholder, and I still feel it's expensive considering its size and powertrain.

Others in the segment offer more grunt at the cost of more tech, but are also thousands cheaper in comparison. If you're going to buy one of the regular two, opt for the Polo Style.

If you want a Polo GTI, well, you'll buy it anyway, because you can't afford the 60-something-thousand-dollar Golf GTI. It's the same reason I bought a 2016 Polo GTI way back when, so nothing has changed in that regard.

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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Volkswagen Polo 85TSI Style Hatchback

8.0/ 10

Performance

7.8

Safety Technology

8.8

Ride Quality

8.3

Infotainment & Connectivity

8.2

Handling & Dynamics

8.0

Energy Efficiency

7.6

Driver Technology

8.5

Value for Money

7.5

Interior Comfort & Packaging

8.0

Fit for Purpose

7.5

Our ratings explained

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Insurance from

$

896

/yr

Estimate details

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Justin Narayan

Senior Journalist

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After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

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