Seven years is a good innings for any modern car. That’s how long Volkswagen’s Mk 5 Polo has been around – and that’s a potential problem when you’re trying to sell into the supermini market, one of the motoring world’s busiest environments.
It’s largely the class-leading build quality, reasonable driving dynamics and high residual values of the Polo that have allowed it to keep its head above water. Excitement hasn’t been part of the package.
Until (possibly) now, with the release of the new Beats Edition. Onto the core of the Polo Match VW has pinned a strong selection of standard kit including aircon, electric windows, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB socket and the company’s competent Composition infotainment system.
Distinguishing this special edition from any other pack-equipped Polo are sports seats with embossed Beats logos, tinted rear windows, gloss black grille, 16-inch ‘Knight’ alloy wheels, Flash red paintwork – and an ear-bleedingly powerful 300-watt, eight-channel amplifier.
It all looks pretty smart. The sensible layout and substantial materials join forces with the add-ons to distract you from an ageing interior whose simplistic boxiness puts it a few years behind the opposition. The spritzes of colour do lift the Polo’s otherwise flat visuals up to the same level as the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo, its main rival.
It’s not just a snow job, either: those Alcantara-clad sports seats are the best in class, and the bass-mungous seven-speaker stereo with boot-mounted sub-woofer (a system developed especially for VW) will give you serious kudos in your choon-fan peer group. It makes the Polo Match’s 80-watt system sound like a cat’s whisker radio from the days of horse-drawn carriages.
Shame then that the Polo hasn't received a similar kick up the mechanical fundament as the Fabia Monte Carlo. The 89bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine pulls decently enough from low revs, but there’s little point in taking it beyond 4500rpm. At least the job of keeping it in its powerband is made more pleasant by the accurate action of the five-speed gearbox. You can choose a DSG auto if you like.
If your motoring entertainment comes from the chassis rather than the control knob of a music system, you’ll find cars like the Ford Fiesta ST-Line, Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 offer a more entertaining drive that the Polo. Though safe, it’s given to noticeable body roll when you’re in a hurry.
For many, of course, a safe driving experience combined with a premium image and a good wodge of modern tech will be more than enough. In that regard the Polo Beats is more than worthy of consideration.
2016 Volkswagen Polo Beats Edition
Engine: 4cyls, 1197cc, turbocharged, petrol;
Power: 89bhp @ 4800rpm
Torque: 118lb ft;
Gearbox: 5-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1107kg
Top speed: 114mph
Economy: 47.1mpg (combined)
CO2 rating/tax band: 107g/km/21%