Volkswagen Polo versus Volkswagen Golf

Which Volkswagen hatchback is better?

Excellent build quality, expert engineering, practicality and style made the Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Polo the UK’s second and sixth bestselling cars respectively in 2018. So how do these two eternal favourites compare?

In the cabin

Both have good quality, logically laid out cabins, and come with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard, with a DAB radio and CD player and USB, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity. Higher-spec Golfs come with a smart-looking aluminium trim, adding to the classy feel, while Polo owners have the option of bright dashboard decor.

Practicality

The Polo has a decent, square 355-litre boot which increases to 1,125 litres with the back seats folded. It can also tow up to 1,100kg and carry 75kg on the roof.

However, the Golf is a larger car, so it is just going to win here. It has a bigger boot: 380 litres, increasing to 1,270 litres with the back seats folded; or in case of the estate, 605 litres increasing to 1,620. There's plenty of headroom and legroom even for tall passengers, and plenty of storage. It can also tow up to 2,000kg and carry 75kg on the roof.

Driving

The Polo is dynamic, comfortable and refined on the road – here its size is a boon, as a turning circle of just 10.6m makes it easy to manoeuvre in tight spots.

It's available with a wide selection of petrol and diesel engines, with up to 113bhp and 148lb ft of torque in the ordinary turbopetrols, and 197bhp and 236lb ft in the GTi and GTi+, which sprint from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds. The four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbodiesel delivers either 79bhp or 94bhp, the latter producing 185lb ft of torque.

Like the Polo, the Golf is easy to drive, with accurate controls and a great balance between rewarding handling and comfort. Although it's a bigger car, manoeuvring it is almost as easy as the Polo, as its turning circle is just 10.9m.

The Golf's range of punchy petrols and frugal diesels are almost all turbocharged, and range from a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 84bhp petrol to the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder 306bhp powerhouse in the Golf R, which delivers 295lb ft of torque, a top speed of 155mph, and a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds. There are also two electric-petrol hybrids, the GTE and GTE Advance, with an electric range of 30 miles and a charging time of two hours and 15 minutes.

Range

There are half a dozen high-performance Golfs available, including the GT, R, GTD and GTD BlueLine diesels and the GTi and GTi Performance. Depending on which one you go for,features include front sports seats, spoilers, chrome exhausts, lowered suspension, stainless steel pedals and red detailing. For off-road driving there's the Alltrack four-wheel-drive estate, which offers improved traction control, increased ground clearance, roof rails, a larger boot and hill descent assist. The Polo has the Polo beats for music lovers, which offers sporty looks inside and out, front sports seats and an improved sound system.

Safety

Both cars have a five-star crash test safety rating from Euro NCAP (the highest rating possible). Driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control and countersteer support, which helps you keep control in a skid - all standard in both cars. For little ones, both also have three three-point seatbelts in the back and ISOFIX child seat points. The Polo also has driver alert as standard, which warns you if it senses you're getting tired.

Equipment

Equipment is similar in both, with front electric windows, power steering and remote locking as standard. The Golf has electric heated mirrors, while the Polo has a service indicator so you know when it needs a check-up. Both also have a steering column which adjusts for rake and reach and a height-adjustable driver's seat to help you find a comfortable position. The Golf is more expensive than the Polo, so you could look at it like this: you'll be able to get a higher-spec Polo for the same money.

Running costs

The diesel Golfs can return up to 70.6mpg, but the Polo beats even that, with the 1.6-litre turbodiesel reaching 76.3mpg. Both are protected by a 12-year rust warranty, and the Golf also has an eight-year battery warranty. Most models from the last five years or so are compatible with Volkswagen’s free Connect app, which keeps you up to date with service and maintenance intervals, explains warning lights, and tells you where your nearest Volkswagen garage is. It also remembers where you’ve parked and how long you’ve been there for – no more anxious searching in car parks – and offers tips on efficient driving.

What the reviewers say

The Polo was named small car of the year 2019 by What Car?, which wrote: “The Polo sets the standard for comfort, practicality and refinement in the small car class. There are no weaknesses in its armour.” Sunday Times Driving described the Polo as “a great all-rounder with efficient engines, good ride quality and arguably the supermini segment’s most impressive interior.”

What Car? described the Golf as “multitalented” and “deeply impressive to drive”, saying: “Very few cars have its classless appeal. It's a little more expensive to buy than most of its contemporaries when compared like-for-like, but when you take into account all it offers, the Golf starts to look like it’s worth every penny of its higher price.”

You can test drive both the used Volkswagen Golf and used Volkswagen Polo at Harlowand Maidstone car dealers Carwise Group – as well as other models in the brand's range, including the smart, practical used Volkswagen Passat and the versatile used Volkswagen Touareg. Plus we have a wide variety of other used Volkswagen cars or many other makes and models for sale. Call us at our Kent dealership on 01622 233151, or our Essex dealership on 01279 216163.