Driving review: Volkswagen Polo GTI

With it being a near perfect product, it tends to lack a bit of the passion or liveliness I am searching for from a hot hatch

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a firm favourite in the hot hatch segment and so it goes without saying that its baby brother, the Polo GTI would also be a popular bet. In fact, the current Polo GTI sells around 120 a month with its closest competitor, the Ford Fiesta ST selling around 60. The Polo GTI is therefore the dominant player.

Volkswagen has now tweaked this winning recipe and brings you the 2015 GTI which gains a new engine and sports a facelift.

From a styling point of view you will notice the 17-inch alloy wheels with the silver-red combination, it looks awesome. The red touches feature throughout the vehicle ensuring it stands out from the regular Polo. The front sports a radiator grille with honeycomb structure with a GTI badge (making it look more like its big brother, the Golf GTI) and red decorative stripes. The bumper has been modified and the GTI is now available, for the first time, with optional LED headlights.

Volkswagen Polo GTI rear

The rear doesn’t see much of a change barring the GTI roof spoiler, darkened red tail lights and twin chrome tailpipes.

Step inside and you will notice the steering wheel is borrowed form the Golf GTI with its red stitching and GTI nameplate. It has a GTI deigned instrument cluster and sport pedals. The cabin is typical Volkswagen, therefore familiar, solid and user friendly.

Volkswagen Polo GTI interior

The new Polo GTI ditches the previous generation’s 1,4 turbocharged engine and instead sports a new 1,8 TSI four cylinder engine. This means this GTI gains 9 kW of power bringing it to a total of 141 kW. But, before we talk about the engine, let’s just mention the fact that this GTI will be offered with a six-speed manual transmission as well. yay! So if mated to the seven-speed DSG (which of course the Germans have perfected), the GTI produces 250 N.m of torque, but with the manual, you get 320 N.m. The top speed hits 236 km/h and both will get you from 0 to 100 km/h in 6,7 seconds. So we see a more powerful engine in this generation with peak power and torque achieved at lower rpm.

The car is well balanced and steering is precise and nicely weighted. There is minimal body roll and in true VW fashion, it handles beautifully! The only problem I had was that I found it a bit underwhelming, but this may be due to the fact that I hold very high standards for all VW products. What it does offer is a comfortable drive, if a tad hard, with great fuel consumption (5,6l/100 km for DSG and 6,0l/100 km for manual), and of course that extra oomph!

Volkswagen Polo GTI profile

With it being a near perfect product, it tends to lack a bit of the passion or liveliness I am searching for from a hot hatch. It is almost too refined. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you need to ask yourself, “What am I looking for?” A fast car that is well behaved or a car that breaks all the rules? Most of us tend to go for the safer option…hence the strong sales figures! And I don’t see these figures dropping with this new generation by any means.

The new Volkswagen Polo GTI is priced at R326 400 (the current model is R315 100). The manual should reach our shores around the 3rd quarter of this year and you can expect it to be priced around R15 000 less than the DSG version. The Polo GTI comes standard with a three-year/45 000 km service plan.