59 Horsepower of German Perfection – The (brief) Volkswagen Polo Review

PoloYou may recall that the last time someone handed me the keys to a rental car, I found myself with a 2011 Kia Optima. And I quite liked it.

This time though, I wasn’t just going to California, I was going to Germany. Germany. The land of no speed limits (which is entirely a story for another post). Alas though, after landing in Munich, I wanted in a 3 person line for about 20 minutes (I was told I should be prepared to wait). After some snafus, I had the keys to a 2011 Volkswagen Polo. The next twenty minutes were spent trying to find the stupid thing in the parking garage.

There was concern in the back of my mind that it would be an automatic. After all, I was from America. Thankfully though, it had a proper gearbox. That’s about all it had. They don’t do entry-level cars in America quite like they do entry level cars in other places. I wouldn’t be too surprised someday to be on a trip to Eastern Europe and getting asked if I would like all four tires that came with the car, or if 3 tires was sufficient. Anyway, here’s what my

Polo had:

  • Four snow tires
  • Four doors
  • Five gears
  • A very small fuel tank
  • A steering wheel
  • A radio

What it did not have:

  • More than four cylinders
  • More than 60 horsepower
  • Cruise Control
  • Any notion of comfort whatsoever

First though, I want to address the fuel economy. We drove it a lot. And while some of it was on unrestricted roads, most was on (unfortunately) restricted Autobahn. This meant that we were usually only doing 100kph. We got about 16 litres per 100 kilometres. This came out to be about 37 mpg. That was awful.

Awful why though? Because the car also had no power. I got it up to 170kph. It took quite a lot of time. That’s only a smidge over 100 miles per hour. The car could not go up hills.

With that said though, it was pretty fun to flick around town. I can’t recommend it for ever touching any sort of freeway though. As far as a city car it’s great. But really, in Europe with exceptional public transport, do you really need a city car anyway? (having not lived in Europe, I’m not sure)

I think you get the feeling on this car. One other thing though, like my Kia, the seats were awful. In fact worse maybe. Try driving 100kph for a few hours in the drivers seat and yet again I wanted to cut off my own bottom. Maybe it’s a rental car thing.


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