FOR most people, experience usually comes with the years and, were this philosophy to be applied to motor cars, the VW Polo would undoubtedly have experience in spades, for there has been a Polo in Volkswagen's UK line-up since 1975.
In hatchback, saloon and even estate car form the thick end of seven million VW Polos have graced driveways worldwide and the latest model arrived in the UK marketplace last summer.
Now marketed in just three and five-door hatchback configurations, the Polo Mark V comes with five petrol engines on offer - 1.2-litre housing 53bhp or 62bhp, 72bhp or 98bhp 1.4-litre plus a 1.4-litre 84bhp FSI.
Diesel urge comes courtesy of a 1.4-litre 68bhp TDI and a 1.4-litre 78bhp TDI plus 98bhp and 128bhp versions of the 1.9-litre TDI while four specification levels, E, S, SE and Sport, are available.
Despite the Polo having undergone substantial change throughout three decades, Volkswagen has ensured that quality, safety, solidity and style have remained paramount to the Polo's make-up and the latest member of this illustrious line is not likely to disappoint..
A little extra height and length has helped to further enhance the feeling of solidity and safety on board while the latest Polo has also adopted a more mature look.
Contributing to this more grown-up appearance is a striking new look to the Polo's front end which follows the innovative face of the latest VW Passat in featuring a bold V-shaped grille extending up through the bonnet to the base of the A-pillars.
The grille is flanked by distinctive trapezoidal light units while the rear end has been revised with redesigned tail lights. The rear side window set-up clearly distinguishes the three-door version from the five.
Driven here is the 1.4-litre 78bhp TDI five-door derivative which boasts what the Wolfsburg carmaker expects to be the most popular specification, the S-trim. It includes as standard front electric windows, powered door mirrors, Climatic semi automatic air con, four-speaker sound system with MP3 compatible CD player, ABS braking and 14-inch alloys with anti-theft bolts.
The cost option box includes the likes of switchable Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to help keep you on the right road, tyre pressure monitor, auto dim rear view mirror and parking distance sensors.
While the transmission tunnel may get under the feet of an adult occupant squeezing into the centre rear seat, the new Polo caters well for four while there is some decent storage space in the well-shaped boot - 270 cubic litres with all seats taken and 1,030 cubic litres with rear seats folded/ The depth of drop into the luggage bay may make loading and unloading difficult for some, however.
There are a number of cubbie holes in which to store your bits and bobs but to reap the benefit of some really useful underseat stowage drawers you have to shift up to the Polo SE model.
Driver's seat pump action height adjustment, too, doesn't kick in until the SE but the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel does help to provide a driving position to suit most folk, facing a neatly laid-out dash with chrome-rimmed dials and well thought out centre console, both of which are easily navigable.
Seating is sufficiently comfortable and supportive to suit most occupants' needs with a decent overall view.
The cabin boasts a more solidly reliable look than the outlandish visual appeal adopted by some rivals, with soft-touch plastics adding a touch of class. In addition, the various items which open and close and the switchgear illustrate that well-damped quality for which products from the Volkswagen stable are renowned.
On the tarmac the 1.4-litre turbodiesel is eager and very frugal in its operation using its 78bhp to extremely good effect on the flat and performing well in the overtaking lane thanks to punchy levels of torque.
Progress is nicely refined with wind and road noise decently suppressed and, although the VW accent is more on stability and a comfortable ride than promoting the fun factor, there is much to commend the Polo. Depending upon individual driving style, there is the promise of a satisfying fuel consumption of around the 60mpg mark in mixed driving.
Overall, the latest Polo maintains its user-friendly supermini/small family car station and, while some rivals may be cheaper and roomier, Volkswagen panel-fit and build quality plus a slower depreciation rate than some competitors are all there to ensure that the Polo's classy image lives on.
Volkswagen Polo 1.4 S TDI 5dr
Mechanical: 78bhp, 1,422cc, 3cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 108mph
0-62mph: 12.8 secs
Combined mpg: 61.4
Insurance group: 5
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
BiK rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 12yrs anti-rust