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Firing on all three and beetling along at an incredible 60mpg.

It was voted the diesel car of the year - and for once the judges did not get it wrong.

The engine that Volkswagen has developed to power this version of the Polo is simply incredible when it comes to economy.

Using the latest high pressure injection technology VW has created a masterpiece capable of averaging in excess of 60 miles to the gallon.

The engine may have just three cylinders but thanks to turbocharging and the Pumpe Duse high pressure injection system it can produce 75bhp and that means this 1.4 litre unit can perform as well as some 2.0 litre diesels.

Top speed is a reported 106mph and the 0 to 60 time is 12.9 seconds but it is in the mid-rev range that this car shoots along.

As soon as the turbo engages just over 2,000 revs this Polo just whizzes. It is highly efficient and at its best can return an incredible average of 62.8 miles to the gallon.

Even around town it will average close on 50mpg and having put this car through its paces for several hundred miles I cannot doubt its ability.

It may be a little bit more chattery than some of the latest generation of new diesels and you have to get used to keeping the revs in the turbo band to get the best from the engine, but once you gain the knack the rest is wonderful - and relatively easy on your pocket in more ways than one as it now benefits from Gordon Brown's announcement that all cars under 1,500cc now qualify for a pounds 55 a year reduction in excise duty.

Combine that with the changes that VW has made on the latest versions of the Polo and it is quite a package.

This particular car was a three door SE version which would set you back pounds 12,620 but VW has recently introduced a lower spec version of the PD Polo priced pounds 1,000 lower.

The SE offers plenty of kit as standard and that includes air conditioning, ABS as well as front and side airbags. There is also electrically adjustable door mirrors and an electronic sunroof.

On the latest Polos handling has been improved significantly. It feels much more sturdy than the originals and if anything the extra weight of the diesel has improved the balance of the car.

Yet in its three door guise it is still a bit of a squeeze to get into the back but luggage capacity is about par for the course for a car of this class. It offers plenty of height in the luggage compartment and can accommodate a regular payload of 8.4 cubic feet extending to a maximum of 34.4 cu ft with the rear seats down.

To offer a little bit more flexibility the rear seats also split on a 60/40 basis.

Both seats in the front are height adjustable and so is the steering wheel and for a small hatch that gives plenty of scope to take most shapes of driver in a good driving position.

Inside the interior is still heavily black but the effect is not as stark as on earlier Polos. Textured trim and body-colour matching upholstery nicely broke up the otherwise dominance of the black mouldings.

Fact File

Model: VW Polo 1.4 TDi PD (three door)

Price: pounds 12,620

Engine: 1,422cc

Insurance group: 7

Rivals: Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, Rover 25

Value for money: 8/10

Overall rating: ****
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 10, 2000
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