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VW have been making Polos since 1975, so you'd think they would be pretty good at it by now! 

The Polo brand has always been synonymous with words like solid, reliable, dependable and safe. Some people would add boring to that list for some of the models, but that's a bit harsh. I'm not going to comment on the early Polos - if you can find a really good one from the 1970s it'll be worth several times as much as a 2007 model. 

The most common Polos sold for learner and first time drivers are the 4th generation, produced between 2002 and 2009, though the newer models have a much more modern look, and a range of very good engines, some of which have outstanding fuel economy.

 Polos of this age (02-09) have a range of 3-cylinder engines.  The 1.2 petrol is the most popular one with first time drivers, available with 55 or 65 bhp engines and upgraded to 60 and 70 bhp in 2005. There is also a 1.4 Polo, a slightly bigger and more powerful petrol engine with 75 or 100 bhp and a 1.6 with 105 bhp.

There are a number of diesel options including the sluggish 1.9 SDI, the 1.4 TDI and the 1.9TDI which has either 100 or 130 bhp. Later models 2009 onwards, have 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4 petrol engines, and smaller diesels such as the 1.2 and 1.4. These engines are faster, more refined and offer better fuel consumption than the earlier ones.

So, there's the spec on the engines, but what are they really like? The 1.2 55 bhp feels a little slow and needs to be revved, the later 70 bhp feels much better to drive while the 1.4 engines are more relaxed to drive,  The diesels are noisy and a bit rough, but deliver very good fuel economy and the TDI 130 packs a bit of a punch. 

The 2009 onwards engines are better, providing something for everyone, ranging from a 90mpg diesel to a pretty quick 1.4 TSI petrol. 

Choosing any of the Polos that fit your budget and insurance limitations would generally be a good move, with strong price retention and good levels of reliability, combined with a solid build quality. They also drive nicely, with a light clutch and gear change, good visibility and excellent handling.

What to watch out for? Like all cars, things go wrong sometimes. Failing ignition coil packs is a common issue, but an easy fix. Timing chains mean no cam belt changes needed. Don't buy any Polo with an engine management light illuminated unless you are certain what the cause is - older models can suffer from burnt out valves - a £600+ fix. As always, a good service history helps to give you the peace of mind that a car has been looked after, but also take into account the overall condition and appearance. 

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