1988 Volkswagen Polo Coupe S 1.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


Indestructible little goer


Blown head gasket at around 57,000 miles.

Windscreen wiper stalk replaced - effects both wipers and lights.

One front suspension top mount replaced at about 90,000 miles.

Driver's door now leaks slightly, needs a membrane replacing I think.

That's it really.

General Comments:

This was the first car I ever owned after a string of very fast motorcycles. With standard, tired suspension it tried to kill me on a regular basis, but fitting Koni dampers and H&R springs transformed the thing's handling - no more wallowing, more like a go-kart. A bit bouncy and light, but very confidence inspiring now.

Brakes are terrible even with Mk 1 Golg GTi ventilated discs fitted.

Engine is willing and can shock supposedly quicker cars. Flat out around 95mph, but getting slowly slower. Acceleration is nippy up to about 60, mainly because it's so light, I think.

Economy okay and servicing costs are low, cabin is tough and the S comes with a sun roof, sports seats, rev counter and other not particularly lavish extras.

Some rust spots now, but terrible neglect over the past five years makes that inevitable.

Also, the rocker cover gasket leaks unless replaced regularly.

Decent storage with the rear seats folded down, though not a huge boot otherwise.

I thrash it, change the oil regularly and it just seems to be indestructible.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th April, 2001

21st May 2001, 12:50

Agreed, fantattic little car, my wiper stalk went on the blink too, but after changing everything from the washer pump to the relays, I saw smoke coming from the switch, which I replaced and then it was fine, peculiar one that.

Had trouble with the cylinder head, but I picked up a good one from the scrapper, with valves and cam shaft for £25.

Watch for leaky master cylinders and rear cylinders, can get very scary.

18th Sep 2004, 07:13

I own a 1989 Coupe S and scarily have had the same problem with the windscreen wiper stalk, and it too turned out to be a switch. I also encountered rather a terrifying problem with the horn one night; it sounded every time I indicated right. The problem grew until it sounded randomly, independently of anything else which put me in some dangerous situations that night. So I disconnected it and was hornless for a month or too; until I discovered the fault to be a loose screw in the horn circuit.

I have also just had to replace a CV joint for the near side wheel, costing £140. This car has been quite problematic for me, but it IS good fun.

Before this I owned a 1984 Polo Coupe from Germany, left hand drive. It was not the equivalent S spec, but because it was built for Germany it had the 1272cc engine and featured servo assisted brakes and was a very very solid car indeed. So there you have it.. buy the German version!

1988 Volkswagen Polo C Saloon 1.0 from UK and Ireland


Reliable and very cheap to have


Basic stuff:

HT leads.

Glovebox replaced due to a faulty catch.

2 parts of the original muffler.

Brake pads.

Some light bulbs.

That's it.

General Comments:

Easy to maintain, very cheap insurance, quite nippy in town, went all around Scotland with it with no problems.

The car started to jerk last winter, new HT leads solved that problem for £25 DIY.

Endless reliability, never failed to start, will take you from A to B if that's what you're after.

Cost £700 and after 2 years I think I only spent £400 in fixings, amazing for such an old thing.

Reliable and cheap, looks like will go another 100k.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st January, 2001

1988 Volkswagen Polo Ranger 1.3 from UK and Ireland


OK as a banger, but the usual VW qualities are lacking






Rear wiper motor.

Heated rear window.


Headlamp switch.

Temperature gauge.

Eendless water leaks in the cabin.

Ball joints.

Numerous cabin rattles.

General Comments:

It is very reliable in so far as it always goes and gets you from A to B, but there have been far too many irritating faults which are not in keeping with VW's image.

Build quality is good however - although dashboard rattles are irritating, the brakes are appalling, performance leisurely, ride hard and eats clutches (it's on the 4th and I DON'T slip the clutch!)

Not nearly as good as I had hoped. Previous Golf was far better.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2000

24th Feb 2001, 05:08

What are you talking about? Leisurely performance? On the continent, the Polo Ranger was actually called the GT. I suspect yours wasn't a real Ranger. You can tell because proper ones had a black headlining.

I couldn't agree more about the cabin water leaks and the heated rear window not working!

1988 Volkswagen Polo CL 1.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Needed a new head gasket at 108,500 miles, also two new front Shocks, nothing more than I would expect from a car of this high mileage.

General Comments:

I can't complain, it always goes in the mornings and has never broken down on me. Would like more performance, and the brakes are a little woolly, but, other than that, no problems!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th May, 1998

1988 Volkswagen Polo C 1.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


I've owned since new and do my own oil/electrics servicing.

40,000mls - new headlamp switch.

85,000mls - new silencer. The original looked good as new but the weld broke.

92,000mls - new water pump (repaired by independent dealer for £70).

General Comments:

It's a bit rudimentary but it is very reliable - it always starts immediately and still feels quite solid with few rattles.

The paintwork is starting to go along the sills - mainly from stone chips.

Heartily recommended for cheap, dependable transport.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th April, 1998