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VW Polo vs Golf – Which is Better?

Volkswagen’s Polo and Golf are two of the firm favourites when it comes to small cars. At a glance, it can even be difficult to tell the two apart. But while these trusty town runners are primarily sold as hatchback versions, they don’t find themselves in the same car classification schemes.

The Volkswagen Polo is in the supermini/subcompact class, whereas the Golf is rated as a small family/compact car. This makes one a perfect fit for the quick city life – and the other a more suitable option for a starting family in need of a bit more room to move.

But that’s not all. Dig a little deeper, and there are a few more differences to help you decide between the two…

Brand History

Volkswagen is one of the most successful and familiar brands of the last century. Believed to be the largest car manufacturer by measure of worldwide sales, the Volkswagen Group was first founded in 1937.

This German automaker first conceived and manufactured the Golf in 1974, serving as a front-engine alternative or replacement for the Volkswagen Beetle. Needless to say, the first-generation Golf sales exceeded expectations, and other models quickly followed.

On the other hand, the first-generation Polo was actually a rebadged Audi 50 hatchback. Having achieved great success with the range, Polo is already into its sixth generation - including a total of 10 faces along the way. Golf, even more successful, is into its eighth generation, with no sign of stopping anytime soon.

Price

Entry-level options on both makes vary as you design your desired final product. Volkswagen has made designing your car extremely easy. If the dimensions and the final price tag are not a concern to you, you will be able to design your Polo so that it offers a driving experience very similar to that of the Golf.

However, on average, the Polo will cost you £4,000 less than its big brother, with marginally better fuel economy to boot.

Performance

Considering the classification variances between the two cars, it makes sense that many people view the Polo as the Golf’s little brother. It’s a bit more compact and a bit more reserved when it comes to overall performance. The 1-litre petrol Golf S offers 110bhp, for example, compared to as low as 80bhp on the 1-litre petrol Polo S.

The VW Polo offers a selection of engines, all on the smaller side and perfectly suited for the car you are buying. Golf has a wide variety to cater for any possible need. Petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, you can choose the design that will best suit your requirements. Golf even has great hybrid and electric options available. 

While both cars have hot hatch GTI and R versions, it is the Golf GTI and the Golf R models that are seriously fast, with larger engines available compared to the Polo. The 1.2 litre Polo R has 103 bhp, capable of 0-60mph in 9.4, whole the 1.4-litre Polo GTI gets there quicker in 6.7 seconds with 177bhp.

That’s pipped to the post by the 2-litre petrol Golf GTI, which does 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds. However, top of the pack is the 2-litre petrol Golf R, with 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, packing a heft 295bhp.

With that in mind, the Golf will be more geared to suit the demands of the adrenaline junkie living up to its reputation for great cornering, being nippy, and offering a bit more to the driving experience.

Practicality

At the turn of the millennium, SUVs took the world by storm. Almost every car manufacturer has ventured into this range, because marketing and statistics revealed that SUV’s will be the future of automobiles. However, since then there has been an increased focus on practicality and efficiency. For this reason, city runners and hatchbacks continued to remain top performers year after year.

Fast-forward to the present day, and these two cars find themselves in very competitive classes, with loads of options from other car manufacturers. In order to fend off rivals, both the Polo and the Golf have been designed to be practical to a fault.

Depending on the requirements, the two cars can offer something for most drivers. The Polo might have a slight advantage because it is a bit more compact – if that’s what you deem important.

However, some prefer a bit more space. The Golf offers more headroom, legroom and boot space, making it better for small families. Its 380 litres, compared to the Polo’s 351 litres on the latest models, allows you to fit in an extra suitcase or two. If you need a small hatch that can zip through town as easily as it can cruise along the coastal roads on a summer getaway, then the Golf will be the more practical choice.

Availability

Given that Volkswagen refers to their hatchbacks as the backbone to the Volkswagen range, it’s fair to say they’re here to stay. The sales figures certainly back this up.

Both Polo and Golf have seen sales increase steadily since 2000. In fact, the Golf has sold more than 35 million units to date, and about 780 000 cars a year, which means there is a new Golf being sold every 41 seconds. This also makes it the third best-selling car of all time. No matter where you find yourself in the world, you are sure to find a Golf on the road without trying too hard.

As for which is best, it depends on what you’re looking for. The Polo is a great option for young drivers and those looking for slightly better fuel economy, while the Golf provides a more feisty drive with a touch more space for added practicality.

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