Polo: the most uncomfortable car

I was interested to note, in one of the Telegraph’s frequent “Top 20” galleries, that the Mark 4 VW Polo is among the 20 worst cars on the road, according to the Auto Express Driver Power Survey.

Yesterday, I spent the day with one of the latest Polo models (not the Mark 4, the 5). If you know me you know that I love Volkswagens (especially their dullness, before you chip in), because both our other Volkswagens were in for a simultaneous service.

The loan Polo was a petrol-engined model with a manual gearbox. Petrol engines are traditionally smoother and quieter than diesels, with more low-end pulling power. This one wasn’t, because it was the 3-cylinder engine that VW stick in at the bottom end of their range. It sounded as rough as a diesel, without the turbo powered advantage. You have to stir around in the gears a lot to keep it moving, which brings us to the second problem.

Both our cars are DSG-gearboxed automatics. I love this gearbox – it’s generally smooth and seamless, efficient, and economical (I regularly get 60 mpg in my Golf). I’ve also had hip pain for over 20 years, so not having to depress a clutch is great for me.

Unused as I am to changing gears manually, I did find the Polo painful on my hip. Worse than this, though, there was actually no room for my left leg to change gears easily. The steering wheel, set as high as it would go, got in the way of my knee, as did the cavernous centre console (cavernous only so you can have two giant drinks in it). It was impossible to find a good position for the seat – so that, for example, your arms were comfortably relaxed and your face not too close to the airbag, but you could also change gears and reach the pedals with your feet.

The ergonomics were terrible.

As for the centre console with its cavernous capacity to drinking cups, I would assert that nobody driving a little 1.2 polo really has much of a need for a 2-litre diet or regular coke. I’m sceptical about the obsession everybody seems to have with having a drink close to hand at all times. Even on long journeys, you can stop every couple of hours and have a drink. Nobody’s going to die, nor even dehydrate.

All in all, screaming, unrefined, agony.

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