THEY must have made a few improvements to the Volkswagen Polo since Mrs Mouth used to charge around in one a few years ago.
Hers was a nasty, tinny little thing, desperately under-endowed on build quality, practicality and reliability. It cost a bomb in repairs and wasn’t even fun to drive.
Even Mrs Mouth, who typically forms a meaningful relationship with her cars, gives them pet names and defends them stoutly, failed to warm to her Polo.
But, my word, how they have come on over the past few years, so much so that the latest version of VW’s supermini has just scooped the highly prestigious European Car of the Year title for 2010.
It was chosen by a jury of 59 members from 23 European countries and becomes the first Volkswagen to take the crown since the third generation of its larger brother, the Golf, won it back in 1992.
The Polo had been strongly tipped to emerge victorious from this year’s formidable shortlist, but it was a very close-run battle, with Toyota’s cracking little city car, the iQ, breathing heavily down its exhaust pipe.
The two featherweights were a mile clear of the other contenders, the Vauxhall Astra, Skoda Yeti, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C3 Picasso.
“This year’s results show that the body of jurors firmly believes that small, economical cars were the best of this year’s crop,” said Steve Cropley, one of six UK-based jurors. “The Polo is a very complete, very refined car which delivers all the consistent qualities VW has become so well known for.”
Since the Polo’s market launch in May, Volkswagen has received more than 130,000 orders for the new car.
It has been warmly welcomed, too, by the critics, with its understated charm and, with brilliant fuel economy and ultra-low emissions, is regarded as being perfectly in tune with the times.
Like new versions of most models, it is a tad chunkier than its predecessors but is still compact enough to be a classic supermini, and has a lovely interior and excellent build quality.
In most years, the dazzling little Toyota would probably have taken the title. Packed with brilliant innovations, it is quick, comfy, nippy and massively appealing, but tough critics may say it is a little too expensive.
The Mercedes is a magnificent beast at the opposite end of the motoring spectrum but probably finished lower than it deserved because it would have sent out the wrong signals at a time of global recession and warming.
So well done to the Polo – Mrs Mouth may have to think again.