Volkswagen Polo 1600 GL 1996 5 Door Hatch

Volkswagen Polo
This Polo was tested with a prejudgment of the earlier models driven.

Yes the old coffin shaped estate-come hatchback I never really understood what it was.
It was not big enough to be an estate and not the right shape to be a hatch however it sold in large numbers.

Old VW Polo.

What I did know is you could not get it going and similar to other early VW cars you could not stop it. Servo assisted braking existed but the VW Polo was not gifted with such a luxury, VW preferring the driver to work out every time they took the car for a drive, hence making the little known VW contribution to the evolution to the human race. Basically making those whom drove them larger on the right leg than there left.

With a premonition of no style luxury or refinement in my mind, I collected and road tested this VW Polo 1600 GL.

VW Polo 1.6 GL Hatch 1996.

However the first impressions were very good, the car looked good and it had a good feel to it when opening and closing the door. With a very good seating position and a well designed cockpit for the driver.


When the engine started it took a couple of seconds for the hydraulic lifters to settle.
When they did they did it became a very quiet and refined engine despite being only a basic 4-cylinder 8-valve unit with multi point fuel injection.

VW Polo 1600 8 Valve engine.
The specification of colourful trim electric pack, stereo, power assisted steering, alloy wheels, sunshine roof and many more standard features. Give it a high level of luxury and a comfort factor not often experienced in small production cars.


When driven it handles similar to a VW Golf of the same age and performed very well, with good engine output . It's quoted as 75 bhp but they must be large German horses. It produces this power very early - in the middle of and late - in its rev range, thus allowing very lazy driving habits to originate. Lots of torque allows for fewer gear changes and
I wonder what scientific theories we could make from this relationship?


(More engine torque)
----------------------------- = The lazy driver affliction.
(Fewer gear changes)

In reality its not the zippiest of 1600 units, instead it's a strong understressed 1600 motor where you would expect to see 1400, 1300 or even 1100cc units. One-day cars like these will all be automatic. And maybe someone will work out a related theory, If they have not done so already. But we do demand manual gearbox's to permit us to continue with our poor driving habits.

The gearbox is a five speed with very easily selected gears and a smooth refined stroke the clutch is light and easy to operate With precise and accurate steering, Braking and road holding are excellent creating a good amount general confidence.
This car is very predictable and housetrained even for the sloppiest or inexperienced of drivers.
The general feel is of a vehicle much bigger, not that bigger is best but the general drive was not that I would of expected. However this little car is not a little pricey. Indeed its more expensive than many middle range saloon cars with reasonably high spec.VW Polo Dashboard.
This one had the GL trim which is a not as common as the CL which has a good specification in it's own right. But the GL is certainly the one to have used as the cost differential is not excessive making it one of the most desirable in the in this range of used VW Polo's.

VW Polo interior.
Competition to the Polo comes from everywhere Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Rover 100 series, Peugeot 106, Citroen Saxo, Honda, Toyota and so on and so on.
With such choice and very good it is, the decision to purchase a Polo in preference to another makers model must be difficult.
But it has my recommendation of 8 out of ten which is very high. and importantly it does hold onto very good residual values after it has lost its new appeal, making it very affordable 2nd hand in the long term.

Conclusion: Pricey to buy but you will get more of your money back in the long term


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