07 August 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Opinion: New Polo design –
better safe than sorry?

With criticism coming from the press for the New Polo being too ‘bland’, PoloDriver explores the reasons why the New Polo may look the way it does

Volkswagen is known to be conservative when it comes to model refreshes. Not one to be especially flamboyant with its bread and butter models, the German company lets its handsome style do the talking. 

While the Golf is sacrosanct when it comes to the look of subsequent generations, the Polo, and to a point, the Scirocco don’t share the same legendary (we refuse to use the word ‘iconic’) status, and so can be afforded a little more style direction now and then.

2014 Volkswagen Polo (UK)

Both were refreshed (sounds so much better than ‘facelifted’) this year, but in recent road tests from the UK’s weekly motoring magazines, the Polo seems to have come under fire for being too ‘anonymous’ or ‘bland’ in the looks department.

While both it and Volkswagen’s sports coupé have been relaunched on the European (and in the case of the Polo certain global) markets, it seems to be the VW supermini which has come in for most criticism.

Criticism from the very quarters which called it ‘handsome’ back in 2009 when the fifth-generation Polo 6R first broke cover. The Ford Fiesta may be the darling of the small hatchback market due to the way it can be punted down a B-road (and rightly so, it’s great), but you couldn’t call it handsome. Striking perhaps, but never pretty.

Yes, the way a car looks matter. And small cars perhaps more than most. We’re all human and therefore a little shallow – we judge a car, people, and the things we surround ourselves with on their looks. We like nice, shiny things that work well and look good.

We’ve always maintained at PoloDriver.com that the while the Polo 6R’s style is subdued (there, we’ve said it), it hasn’t dated as much as the small Ford, which has lots of fussy detailing and that fish mouth-like grille. The VW also has a much more classy, simplistic and therefore ergonomic interior.

And yes, we know we could be in the minority. Ford sells three times as many Fiestas in the UK than Volkswagen does Polos – it’s the best-selling car in the UK ever for Pete’s sake – but sales figures aren’t everything.

The Polo’s residual values are higher for example. And competitive prices means that while it still out-poshes the Fiesta, it does so on a more affordable level. It does it with a more classically elegant air, too.

And have you seen the Polo Sedan sold in Russia and South Africa? For a traditional four-door notchback, that’s classically handsome as well. It shows form, too, and follows in its ancestors’ tyre tracks: look at a 1970s chrome-bumpered Volkswagen Derby (pre-1979 refresh) and tell me it’s not pretty?

1977 Volkswagen Derby

We may be accused of bias, but what we’re saying is this. The details are there, should you care to look. The sharply-creased shoulder line is just but one. Yes, the Polo 6R (new or otherwise) doesn’t have the finer, still subtle styling flourishes of the Golf 7, but neither is it derivative. And the Golf is rarely derided for its looks.

While it may not be as avantgarde as some of its small car competitors, the Polo’s understated air appeals to an awful lot of people. In addition, with its upgraded kit and new engines, it’s fighting fit to take on new challengers in the gladiatorial supermini arena.

But before it comes out of its corner, headlights blazing and tyres squealing, please don’t dismiss it as being ‘anonymous’ or ‘bland’. The Polo has never been a small car trendsetter (although the 1980s Mk 2 ‘breadvan’ hatchback was oddball different and the 1970s Mk 1 was achingly pretty for a small hatchback).

1981 Volkswagen Polo

But the latest refreshed model generation is a quietly handsome and stylishly elegant piece of modern small car design. 

Besides, there’s currently a pumped-up, all-wheel drive machine based on the Polo doing particularly well in the World Rally Championship at the moment. A sudden change of style would cancel out any possible halo effect on the regular model range due to a lack of correlation between stage star and road car.

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Volkswagen may have played it safe with the Polo 6R’s mid-life rejuvenation (partly to not harm sales we will readily acknowledge), but by doing so, has ensured it will endure for longer.

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