VW Polo (2002-2009)

To the uninitiated, this is the small hatch with everything; image, high levels of safety and bullet-proof build quality. While it has the first two, the Polo isn't always as well engineered as you might think, with some high parts prices into the bargain. So while the Polo can be great (and especially with a TDi powerplant), make sure you're not buying a car that's given its previous owner unending grief.

Key Dates

1/02: The fourth-generation Polo debuts in three or five-door hatchback forms, with 1.2 or 1.4 petrol engines plus 1.4 or 1.9 turbodiesel engines.

5/02: An ultra-efficient 1.4 FSi petrol engine arrives.

4/04: A trio of rear head restraints and three-point seatbelts are now standard for all Polos.

5/04: The Polo Dune pseudo off-roader is now in the showrooms.

6/05: A facelifted Polo goes on sale with a redesigned nose and tail.

6/06: The Polo GTi joins the range, with a 148bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine.

7/07: The Polo Bluemotion arrives.

VW Polo (2002-2009) Checklist

  • Gearboxes can prove weak, especially on diesels.
  • Corrosion can take a hold under the window seals.
  • The suspension can be creaky and dampers can fail.
  • Check the footwells for water; door seals often fail.
  • If there's an 'Individual' radio fitted, check the display works; they often become illegible.
  • Timing chains and tensioners can break on the 1.2-litre petrol engine, if the service schedule isn't adhered to religiously.

We Like

  • Solidity
  • Image
  • Refinement
  • Ride
  • Great diesels

We Don't Like

  • Costly to buy
  • Not always reliable
  • Indifferent dynamics
  • Cramped cabin
  • Dull interior