Volkswagen Polo gets mild facelift and major new technology

2021 update sees supermini adopt driver aid and convenience systems from Mk8 Golf

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 2:00 pm
2021 Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen has given its sixth-generation Polo a facelift, and to be honest, the changes are pretty significant. Not only are there noticeable updates to the car’s exterior styling, but inside the cabin there is a raft of technological upgrades. The latest model will go on sale in the UK in the third quarter of 2021, followed by an updated GTI hot hatch version in 2022.

Starting at the front, there’s a fresh front bumper and headlight arrangement which incorporates a new LED lighting bar that runs from the new-look headlights to the centrally-placed VW badge. For the first time, buyers will also be able to upgrade to IQ Light matrix LED technology.

There are changes too to the rear of the facelifted Polo. In addition to a new tailgate with new badging — the Polo name now sits below the rear badge — the LED tail-light clusters have also been redesigned. Look closely and you’ll see they have been inspired by those of the Golf Mk8.

There’s even a touch of luxury available, albeit as an option: dynamic indicators. I’ve always loved them since they made their debut on Audi models. The sweeping movement of the indicator light from in to out has, until now, only been available on VW Group’s more expensive models.

As you would expect, there are also significant changes to the interior of the Polo. As standard, every model now comes with a digital instrument panel. Sitting behind the new multifunction steering wheel, the standard instrument panel is eight inches, but increases to 10.25 inches for the Digital Cockpit Pro version.

The entry-level Polo — now rebadged as ‘Polo Life’ — now gets a 6.5-inch infotainment display. An eight-inch touchscreen system will still be available as an option, while for the first time a 9.2-inch display will also be on offer. Both the eight- and 9.2-inch screens get VW’s We Connect connectivity. This delivers real-time traffic info and live music streaming. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both also included.

The heating and ventilation controls have also been upgraded. Gone are the previous knobs and buttons to be replaced with a touch-sensitive panel. The result is that users swipe to adjust the temperature. That said, the “swipe” tool is only available on Polo models fitted with automatic climate control.

And while a wireless smartphone charging bay can be fitted as an option, there are also two USB-C ports tucked away alongside the heater controls on the lower section of the dashboard.

For the first time on a Polo, semi-autonomous driving assistance will be available. This sees VW’s Travel Assist function carried over from the latest Golf and Passat. Branded IQ Drive Travel Assist, the technology — a combination of lane-keep assistance and the new predictive adaptive cruise control set-up — can take over the accelerating, braking and steering of the Polo, from standstill in automatic models and from a rolling 18mph in manual cars. And it can retain control right up to the vehicle’s top speed. Thankfully, the driver must keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

The UK engine line-up will consist totally of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines. The entry-level naturally-aspirated unit will deliver 79bhp and 69lb ft of torque, with power sent via a five-speed manual gearbox.

Next up are two turbocharged TSI options. The 94bhp version is also mated to a five-speed manual transmission, with a seven-speed DSG auto ’box an option. The latter is standard on the range-topping unit, the 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI.

We’ll have to wait closer to UK launch dates before we receive confirmation of trim levels, but we do know the revamped and streamlined line-up will mirror that of the latest Golf. Hence the entry model is now the Polo Life, followed by the mid-range Style and the range-topping R-Line.

As usual, the R-Line gets a sportier-looking body kit, with the front bumper partially inspired by that of the Golf R. There’s also a different rear bumper with chrome-effect faux exhaust exits integrated into a new gloss black rear diffuser. Light matrix LED headlights are standard, as are 16-inch alloys.

Those keen to get their hands on the latest Polo GTI will need to wait till next year. But it promises to carry over its current 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, though there remains the possibility there will be a change to the current 197bhp power figure.

As for prices, again we’ll need to wait for confirmation before the facelifted Polo enters UK showrooms in the third quarter of this year. But it’s to be expected, given the upgrades, that there will be a small price increase, so expect the entry-level to start around £17,500.