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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Volkswagen Polo 2002 – 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: VW Polo

An irrelevant look at a certain car.

Volkswagen Polo 2002 – 2009

VW’s Polo has just reached its Mk 6 status and the little Polo has gone from strength to strength, once being the smallest and cheapest way into VW. And then Polo became a proper VW and a new smaller car was available, thus pushing Polo to another stratosphere in VW ownership. It’s all gone well for Polo except.


Back in 2002, the MK 4 Polo arrived. It was ALL NEW, all sparkly and dull as ditch water. Changing the front indicator was probably as exciting as it could get.

It wasn’t a bad car, it didn’t necessarily achieve great showroom appeal, but it did sell in vast numbers with most being painted silver. The new colour for the millennium so I am lead to believe. And the Polo did what you needed it to be. It was a small car with large dimensions in as much as it just got fat as was typical of VW’s ethos back then. 

Polo was well built. It carried the VW traditions quite well. Wasn’t know for falling apart, could take some serious bodily abuse and never see a welders torch. It was what Polo customers wanted. A quality car that stood for something even if it was lacking in entertainment on almost every level. You could also fool people by replacing the VW badge with one from Mercedes because it did look a little like the 2000 – 2007 Merc W203. 

Sadly, the looks of Polo didn’t really change between model to model. To be honest, you’d have to do more than squint to spot the mild fire breathing 100PS 16v over the more humdrum three cylinder 1.2 with about half the power.

And it’s this 1.2 engine that brings me here. The little 3 pot petrol was quite energetic in its power propulsion method and didn’t leave you with a strange feeling like that of sitting on a washing machine with a brick in it. It was quite smooth and liked revs. However, It was a ruddy awful engine and not one that I would, in its advancing years, recommend. EVER.

Piston slap and burnt out exhaust valves are the main culprit and not always on engines with high mileages either. To get the good economy it ran weak and lean. The leaner they run, the hotter they get. The hotter they get, the likelihood is burnt broken bits. Find a Polo running rough and chances are it won’t be a coil pack for £20. It’ll be a new head for £700.

The Polo 1.2, not a good car. Run for the hills, it’s that bad!  

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