Q: I'M interested in buying a used VW Polo 1.4 Trendline - with less than 45000km on the clock. However, when I talk to people about my intended choice they tell me that a Volkswagen is expensive to maintain and a prime target for thieves and that I should rather go for something a bit cheaper to maintain. As a first-time driver I need your advice.
A: I don't think the Polo's maintenance costs will be any higher than the average in the industry, and I haven't heard that Polos are a favourite target for thieves.
However, to remove all doubt, I suggest you make a list of competing models from other established manufacturers with a dealer network and spares backup - comparable to VW - and then spend an hour or so on the phone to the dealerships of the competitors, asking a few pertinent questions, including the following:
lHow much will the labour charge be for a 60000km service on a 2007 model if it's not under a service plan?
lWhat is the labour charge to replace the cambelt? (If any car on your shortlist doesn't have a cambelt, but instead uses a timing chain, which doesn't need replacing for the life of the engine, it should be marked down as a definite bonus).
lHow much will a clutch replacement cost, in parts and labour?
The answers (and the ease with which the answers are obtained) will give you a basis to evaluate the advice of your friends.
I know that buying a car, especially your first car, is more than just a matter of facts and figures.
All I can say is that I don't think a Polo is a bad car to lose your heart on - provided you find a good one. That's where the tricky part comes in.
Bear in mind that you may still have a portion of the 3-year /120000km warranty transferable to your name, as well as the balance of the service plan, if the previous owner took one out.