Volkswagen Polo - a car in its (Optimus) Prime?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Even at this relatively early stage of my life there's loads of things I wish I could've done a bit differently or encountered a bit sooner. A prime example would be the family holidays I used to go on. I was quite fortunate in that the three of us have seen most of Europe and lots of America. I remember all sorts, from jumping into a Volkswagen Polo hire car in Ibiza, long before I was aware of what those who aren't on a family holiday do in Ibiza, to sitting in a Delorean at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Whilst I always appreciated my holidays, now I've got a job, a mortgage and have to pay for such luxuries as holidays myself, I wish I could've made a bit more of the family trips than I did. It's a similar story with music (which for the biography is as much a love of mine as cars). I lap up all sorts of audio, but my two big regrets are missing the boats that are Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins in their prime. The former came to a climatic end when I was only ten, so there's not a lot I could do to change that, but the Pumpkins are a different kettle of fish.

I've known of them for years but it's only this week I've truly discovered their brilliance. The problem is, I'm about twelve years too late from their prime so for all the excitement of hearing their stuff, I know I'll never get to see them play live (or at least not in their original guise). It really is frustrating considering the dross that is popular in today's music (I sound like my granddad!)

So where am I going with this whimsical tale of missed opportunities in my youth? I think the message is simply: just because something's been around for a while, don't take it for granted or assume the newer variations on an old theme are better. A prime example of this is the very car I sat in the back of years ago in Ibiza - the Volkswagen Polo.

The Polo has been around an astoundingly long time for a car - first hitting showrooms way back in 1975. It's easy therefore to denounce the Polo as nothing more than a car over thirty years old that really should be collecting its pension each week and leaving the business of driving to the youngsters. However don't make the mistake I‘ve made of taking for granted a great situation and not fully appreciating it.

Despite the age the Polo's heritage harks back too, the latest model is no old man when competing in today's market. Currently not the baby of the Volkswagen family thanks to the Fox and Lupo, the Polo emits a certain quality not found in all super minis. The styling is as you'd expect from a car designed to attract all spectrums of taste and is therefore subtle but still good-looking. A personal favourite are the rear light clusters that wouldn't look out of place as Optimus Prime's eyes in the Transformers sequel.

Essentially being a shrunken Golf, the Polo handles all situations very well, whether it's city speed humps or countryside cornering. The entry level engines are a tad underpowered which mean more driver involvement to get going - great if you're in the mood for working the engine, not so if you want to get from A to B quickly and peacefully.

The interior is the usual grade ‘A' fare as you'd expect from a German manufacturer, with a chunky steering wheel conveying the quality of the cabin as a whole. On a personal note, I have a thing for blue neon lights so the Polo is heaven, with the majority of the instrumentation bathed in its soft glow. Rear legroom is good as is the boot space so it ticks all the boxes for a family shopping trip. Safety features also abound, with stability control and brake assist found on all variants. Residual values tend to stay high with Volkswagens Autel MaxiPRO MP808TS, so if you do come to sell, this should be the least of your headaches.

It's a busy crèche the baby Volkswagen finds itself in Autel Maxisys MS908CV, with the Peugeot 207, Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa all fitting contenders for your money. Just remember when you're looking for a new car, not to overlook the elder statesman, else you'll miss a great car in its prime.

Tom London describes what the latest Polo has to offer as he checks out a local VW Dealer
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