Volkswagen is to replace the ageing Polo with a better value, safer and more attractive car.

Looking just like a mini-Golf, the new Polo (right) lives up to VW's build quality reputation - and for the first time, it is fun to drive.

UK models will be available next month with 1.0, 1.3 and 1.6-litre engines, although the two smaller-engined Polos are disappointingly slow. Only the 1.6 provides enough power to zip around town with confidence.

Engine differences apart, there is not much wrong with the new car: interior space is improved; there is a four-door entry-level model for the first time, and it grips the road superbly. Prices are expected to be the same or even cheaper than current cars.

'The new Polo is wider and taller, and makes better use of interior space, especially in the rear, because that is what the market demands,' said a VW spokesman. 'The whole supermini market has moved in this direction.'

In fact, the supermini class has changed so much that the new Polo is similar in size and feel to the original Golf. But if one question mark hangs over the car, it is the presence in the market of another supermini built by Volkswagen - the Seat lbiza. The Ibiza shares engine, gearbox, floorpan, suspension, and interior with the Polo - and is virtually the same car.

Despite rumours that the Polo will be priced competitively, it is unlikely to offer such good value as the pounds 6,795 1.4-litre base model Ibiza.

Volkswagen will be pleased if you buy either car, but the Germans must make sure their Spanish subsidiary does not steal the Polo's limelight.

(Photograph omitted)

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