20 November 1998

THE SMALL ESTATE WITH

THE TARDIS INTERIOR

In this months Country Car Geoff Ashcroft

tries VWs Polo estate and Skodas Octavia

estate, Andrew Pearce assesses Citroens

new 3/4t pick-up and David Cousins

has a go in Nissans Terrano van

FOR many, the words estate car still give rise to visions of a cavernous load space on wheels. Something in which you can fit the entire family, several dogs, an elderly aunt or two, umpteen suitcases, hatboxes and so on.

But Volkswagen obviously believes that an estate can be small and still be of use – hence the arrival of an estate version of its diminutive Polo saloon. Its square back aims to maximise load space, but its at the expense of rear end styling and the vehicle ultimately falls between being either a load lugger or a lifestyle estate.

Inside, the interior feels roomier than it really is. Dashboard and centre console, more vertical than the north face of the Eiger, create an open and roomy feel for the driver and front seat passenger. But despite good headroom, rear seat passengers of any stature will find knees wanting to meet chins.

Open the tailgate and a boot with a difference greets you. Once youve overcome the hurdle of the high rear bumper, there lies a deep, low load space. And with rear seats folded, the Polo offers tardis-like characteristics – there always appears to be room in the back for a bit more.

And for the first time VW is offering the Polo with the same 90hp turbo-diesel found in certain Golf and Passat models (though its installation isnt the quietest in this car). It puts a certain quickness of step into the cars performance which will wipe the grin off many a petrol car drivers face.

Verdict: Compact estate with surprisingly generous load proportions. Eager TDi engine gives spirited performance, though newness knocked test fuel economy. Equipment level is high on the GL specification, but so is the price.

1.9 turbo-diesel engine pushes Polo estate along with surprising alacrity. Equipment level high on GL model, but

so is price.