Volkswagen’s latest high tech Polo is old schooled enough, too.

Volkswagen’s locally built sixth and a half generation Polo is big news in South Africa. It leads the market for good reason. Long, low and large inside, it brings cool tech to rival some far more expensive cars in safety and kit. Yet while it’s the first Polo with digital instruments, this Life model also resists the urge to dispose of good old buttons and knobs while doing so.

A More Mature Polo Look

Recently facelifted to deliver a perhaps more mature look, it has softer lines in places, harder angles elsewhere. A neat new LED strip joins the DRL LED headlamps across the grille to set it apart. Not that you won’t be pressed to tell this evolution from the last one from other angles. Polo’s cabin however remains where the biggest plusses lie. Revolutionary, chic, cool and groundbreaking, it dares you with a metallic swathe across the dash.

It packs cool tech too. A brand new second generation 8-inch touchscreen Active Info Display is also an essential option. The new screen forms a modern, glass-encased unit for an elegant appearance. It sits in an asymmetric centre console painted in body colour. To bring a fresh and perky feel complemented by the new touchscreen graphics’ mature and no-nonsense look.

This one’s Beats audio system is a selling point for the younger crowd. It’s bass does drone a bit as soon as the volume is wound up, even f you try lower it in the settings. That said, we used the new Polo as our pits office at a recent raceday. It proved a serene haven from the clatter and racket outside as those Beats played gently in the background.

Polo is a Comfortably Pleasant Place

It’s the same on the road. A comfy, quiet and a pleasant place to be. That said, we’re not great fans of all these driver aids. We say they tend to be be intrusive. But you may well find them comforting and reassuring. Polo packs it all in, from lane-changing to blind spot, rear traffic and driver alert. Add Park Assist with Manoeuvre Braking, Multi-Collision Braking semi-automated parking and more. Most impressive for in essence an entry-level car.

This latest Polo continues to impresses under the bonnet too. Volksie’s little 3-pot litre TSI continues among the stars of a blockbuster cast. This one had the less powerful 70 kW direct injection 12-valve turbo triple litre TSI. It’s still impressive, even more so at the Reef, where some rivals’ performance promise will fall apart without turbocharging. Take a peek blow — those performance figures are quite adequate.

Enough Old School to be Cool

You may feel short changed by just a 5-speed manual, but there are several other aspects we prefer to be a bit old school. This one retains good old audio, aircon and other knobs and buttons versus he swipe and slash button pads some of its more premium siblings adopt. Have to admit we far prefer the tactile confidence of this old school switchgear.

So, if you’re after the tech and the cool, without the too fast forward touchy feely bits, this Polo is quite the peach. The price of progress, perhaps? – Michele Lupini

Testing & Images: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Life
Engine: 70 kW 175 Nm 1-litre turbo petrol I3
Drive: 5-speed manual FWD
0-60 km/h         4.33 sec
0-100 km/h:       10.46 sec
0-120 km/h        15.09 sec
400m:             17.2 sec @ 128km/h
80-120km/h:       8.01 sec
Vmax:             187 km/h
Fuel:             5.4 l/100km
CO2:              124 g/km
Warranty/Service: 3y 120/3y 45K km
PRICE:            R354K
RATED:            8
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