1997 Volkswagen Polo 16v 1.4 16v from UK and Ireland


Nice car - stick with the 1.6


Electric windows are not working.

Brake pads - twice!

General Comments:

It seemed a really great car, I went in with a 1.6CL and told the salesman I wanted something better, more exciting.

He showed me the 16v, metallic black, it looked lovely. Then I made a mistake, I never drove it, I just bought it!

Don't get me wrong, it is nice, it's typically Volkswagen, solid, no rattles, etc. I was disappointed with the windows electrics packing up - the dealer has been extremely helpful!

My main quibble is that considering it's a hatch-back with 100bhp, it's a slug. It's not that fast, and the gearing seems wrong, you can change gear and all you drop is about 1500rpm, then you need to change again and then you are at about 4500rpm doing 70mph. As most of my journey is on the motorway I get fairly poor fuel economy.

The other quibble is that the suspension and steering are dire - almost dangerous. The car just lunges about the road, the steering has absolutely no control over where the car is going! You can turn fast and it just points all over the road and that's in the dry - in the wet it's just not even worth trying a corner at anything less that dead slow!

In my opinion the 1.6 was almost as quick, cruised a lot more smoothly at speed and was much more economical.

Sorry VW - not this one!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2001

20th Jun 2001, 09:45

My Polo TDI has the same handling problems - the chassis can't cope with 75bhp on dry twisty roads, let alone wet. The engine's a gem, just too good for old underpinnings I guess.

I also lost an electric window for 3 months and the central locking on the opposite door at the same time.

17th May 2004, 05:34

I have a Polo 16v and sluggish is not the word I would use to describe it.

It sounds like there's something wrong with it from the way you say it drives either that or you just can't drive.

Personally I think the length of the gears are great and that was before I had it tuned to 160bhp.

17th May 2004, 05:46

I have just bought the 16v and I think the handling is great I can't understand the previous reviews as mine handles a treat.

Maybe you just can't drive.

21st Jun 2006, 09:50

I believe you have received a lemon.

21st Jun 2006, 09:53

There is nothing wrong with the gearing - it's you.

The 16v has a close ratio gearbox, hence why it only drops 1,500RPM or so between gear changes.

And the handling is great.

4th Oct 2006, 12:29

The 16v has uprated handling as standard, incorporating lowered and stiffened oil filled struts with larger diameter anti roll bars, front and rear. So I fail to see how you can call the handling sloppy.

The handling and braking systems have been adjusted to cope with the extra power, and I find them more than adequate for a normally aspirated 1.4.

What are you comparing it to?

A 911?

9th Dec 2007, 10:40

The difference between the reviewer's Polo 16v and the Golf 1.6CL he traded in are vast. The Golf is a low-revving engine designed for torque, while the 16v is a higher powered, higher revving engine that doesn't wake up until 4000rpm. The Polo gearbox has close ratios to keep the engine in the power range. I agree about the handling; even the 16v needs lowering, as they roll in corners (because they're heavy cars for their size).

1997 Volkswagen Polo Saloon L 1.6 from UK and Ireland


Good workhorse


Rear wheel bearing making a rattling noise at age 3, fixed by the dealer <100 pounds.

Rear door needs slight tug before opening. Rear seat belts don't retract properly at times

No major mechanical problems.

General Comments:

Driving position not as good as wished as my basic L model had no seat height adjustment.

Somehow it has air-con and ABS which I don't think is standard in the L.

Enough power to cruise at 80 comfortably, above that can feel bit light.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd March, 2001