Lower fuel consumption, greater safety and more comfort and convenience make the new Volkswagen Polo one of the most advanced small cars for sale in Australia.

The first major upgrade of the 2010 World Car of the Year features advances such as multi-collision braking, idle-stop engines and optional adaptive cruise control, fatigue detection and automatic city emergency braking.

Visually, the new Polo displays sharper front and rear body designs, new paint colours, new interior materials and a revised dash and console layout.

The updated Polo is available in 66TSI Trendline and 81TSI Comfortline versions, each of which has an all-new 1.2 litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet.

The 66TSI delivers 66 kiloWatts of power and the 81TSI, 81kW. Manual transmissions are available, but buyers are likely to favour Volkswagen’s impressive seven-speed DSG automatic.

Using idle-stop technology to save wasted running in traffic and braking energy recovery, the little engines gain up to 21 percent improvement in fuel consumption.

Despite the advances, Polo prices have come down. The 66TSI Trendline manual is available for $16,290, or $700 less than the superseded cheapest version.

The Volkswagen Golf’s junior sibling has been one of the world’s most popular superminis since its introduction in 1975. Almost 14 million examples have been built.

Acquiring technology from its bigger and more expensive stablemates, the latest Polo is able to boast many hi-tech features in a nimble city package.

Key among these are crash prevention and mitigation systems. They include the standard Multi-Collision Braking System, which automatically maintains braking during a crash to help avoid a secondary impact.

An optional Driver Comfort Package includes Fatigue Detection, “Front Assist” traffic monitoring with low-speed City Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and a rear-view camera.

In all cars with DSG automatic transmission, when the vehicle ahead stops the Active Cruise Control comfortably brakes the Polo to a full stop also. Active Cruise Control maintains the selected vehicle speed and gap to the vehicle ahead and brakes or accelerates automatically in flowing traffic.

Steering is improved in the new Polo with the fitment of electric, rather than hydraulic, assistance. It [provides precise and agile response and insulates road bumps well.

In conjunction with fuel-saving BlueMotion engine technology, a driving aid called Blue Trainer makes its debut in the Polo. This monitors the driver’s use of the accelerator, brakes and gears, and gives tips via a dashboard readout on how to drive more economically.

Polo Comfortline customers who enjoy a more spirited drive can chose an optional Sport Package, including bigger alloy wheels and lowered sports suspension.

Specifications

Prices

66TSI Trendline manual $16,290, DSG auto $18,790; 81TSI Comfortline manual $18,290, DSG auto $20,790.

Engines

Petrol four-cylinder, 1.2 turbo, 661TSI 66 kW, 160 Nm; 81TSI 81 kW, 175 Nm.

Transmission

66TSI 5-speed manual, 7-speed auto; 81TSI 6-speed manual, 7-speed auto.

Fuel consumption

66TSI 4.8 litres per 100 kms; 81TSI 4.8/100kms.