Confession time first. I am a bit of fan of the Volkswagen Polo.

My daughter’s first car was a venerable 1990 version and I jumped at the chance of getting behind the wheel of that much-loved car – nicknamed Marco naturally – which more than made up in personality what it lacked in the way of gears or power steering.

More than 40 years after the Polo first appeared here, the sixth generation of the perennially popular supermini is a completely different beast.

Longer, wider and lower, with sharper looks and some new engines, the main focus is on more cabin and luggage space, alongside an inevitable boost in technology.

So in comes a range of systems usually associated with larger cars, new ‘infotainment’ displays and the debut of the second generation of Volkswagen’s ‘Active Info Display’.

Priced from about £14,000, the focus of its new technology is on safety, with city emergency braking fitted with a new pedestrian monitoring function. Added to that is adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection.

Hop inside and the centre of the dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch colour touchscreen that controls everything from the DAB digital radio, CD player and SD card reader to the Bluetooth telephone connection. A USB connection allows the system to connect to Apple CarPlay, Google AndroidAuto and MirrorLink that allows a mirroring of the smartphone display on the touchscreen.

Now only sold as a five-door, the new Polo is bigger in every dimension but length than the Golf Mk IV – sold here until 2003 – with a boot space that has grown by a quarter, from 280 litres to 351 litres, and a wheelbase up by 94mm compared with that of the previous car.

All new Polo engines are equipped with a stop-start system and a regenerative braking mode, while any of the turbocharged petrol and diesel units with an output of 95 horsepower or more can be mated with a six- or seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox.

Personalisation extends to a choice of 14 exterior colours; seven different dashpad decors; two interior trim versions and 11 different seat cover options.

To add a bit of on-road presence both during the day and at night, all models are fitted with new LED headlights and LED daytime running lights.

The car driven here, expected to be the UK’s best seller, was powered by a perky, turbocharged three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine, linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. Developing 95 horsepower, it delivered an impressive combination of nippy acceleration, refined motorway cruising and fuel consumption regularly in the mid to high 50s, depending on how you drive.

The on-the-road price of this car was £15,135, but a range of options including £415 dual-zone climate control, £600 adaptive cruise control, £315 parking sensors and Energetic Orange metallic paintwork at £565, plus a range of other goodies, lifts the price to just over £19,000.

Built at Volkswagen’s plant in Uitenhage, 500 miles east of Cape Town, South Africa, the Polo remains a popular choice for retail buyers with only about 30 per cent of sales expected to go to fleet customers.

And more than 95 per cent of sales are expected to be of petrol-powered models.

As the second best-selling car in the Volkswagen range in the UK, behind the Golf, the Polo remains a key player in the supermini sector and with more than 1.4m sold in the UK over the last 40-odd years its future looks secure.

Auto facts

Model: Volkswagen Polo SE 1.0 TSI

Price: £15,135

Insurance group: 8E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 64.2mpg

Top speed: 116mph

Length: 405.3cm/159.5in

Width: 194.6cm/76.6in

Luggage capacity: 12.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 8.8 gallons/40 litres

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles