Putting the Volkswagen Golf up against the Polo is a bit like comparing the smallest iPhone with the largest – they’re fundamentally the same, but also very different.
You can find both used Volkswagen models at impressive prices - usually much cheaper than brand-new.
These are two of VW’s most popular and longest-standing models, but choosing the right one for you will come down to a few variables that we will go into below.
When it comes to looks, both of these hatchbacks offer smart, fresh and crisp designs – just in different sizes.
Across all the years the Golf has been around, it’s remained more or less the same in terms of its design.
Volkswagen has followed its evolution perfectly by keeping it simple and growing its footprint ever so slightly – as all cars have over time.
Newer models feature a much sharper look than before, from the lights through to the wheels.
Moving to the smaller Polo, it somehow looks more juvenile than its big brother – with a narrower body and softer-looking headlights.
But don’t be fooled by its exterior because the GTI variant is quite the beast on a twisty road, with the right person behind the wheel.
What are they like to drive?
One of the main reasons the Golf is widely known as the true ‘people’s car’ is mostly down to the way it drives.
It’s effortless and incredibly smooth on your average stretch of tarmac, as well as being really economical and comfortable.
Newer models are equipped with so many driver aids now too, which means you don’t need to stress yourself out on longer journeys.
No matter which engine you opt for with either car, you’ll be in good hands.
Interior and technology
Moving inside, it’s immediately obvious as to which car is pitched to which demographic.
A used Golf will give a very upmarket feel, with simple colours and a very functional interior, whereas the Polo has much brighter colours and a sportier feel – supporting its younger appeal.
But age is just a number, right? So, no matter which one you choose, you’ll be happy because they both offer great technology, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and lots of optional extras such as heated seats, a seven-speed automatic gearbox, improved speakers, climate control, heated windscreen washer jets and many more.
Despite these models being considered ‘budget’ cars, the materials used in the cabin would easily outlast your ownership period.
The plastics feel dense and of high quality, and everything operates with a consistent weight.
VW has departments that focus on the way in which controls operate, and it's clearly put in a few extra shifts with these two fun little hatchbacks.
Bootspace and practicality
When you scoot over to the rear of the Golf, you're greeted with a benchmark boot size when it comes to the world of measuring cars.
It measures 380 litres, while the smaller Polo has a still respectable 351-litre boot.
This is plenty for a couple of suitcases, shopping bags and/or golf clubs (a common measurement for all car boots for some unrelated reason).
In terms of seat space, you won’t be short of any in the rear of the Golf because of its generous size.
People over six feet will fit comfortably in the back of one, and will even have some room to spare.
The same can’t quite be said for the Polo, but there’s still enough space available for two people to sit very comfortably in the back.
Read our in-depth car reviews:
Safety and reliability
In their most recent Euro NCAP crash tests, both cars were awarded the full five stars available for having excellent adult and child occupant safety.
As for reliability, the Golf and Polo both share many of the same parts – all of which should see the car do tens of thousands of miles without any issues whatsoever.
All the engine options on offer are superb, too – with great longevity thanks to many reliable parts and heavy development.
Boot space: 380 litres
Boot space: 351 litres
Verdict: Volkswagen Golf vs Volkswagen Polo: which should you buy?
When it comes down to it, there really is no wrong choice. Both the Golf and Polo are excellent hatchbacks in their own right – but the one way that can help you to determine which is for you is the size.
If you have a family then we’d recommend the Golf because it’s that little bit bigger, so it has a larger boot, more rear legroom and headroom.
We’d suggest opting for the Polo if you’re someone who likes to nip down a British B-road, because its narrow body is great for that.
But regardless of your final decision, both cars are fantastic on short journeys, motorway drives and around cities because of their comfortable nature and great gearboxes – automatic or manual.