Volkswagen Polo GTI provides strong performance for a pretty modest price, carrying a recommended retail of just $27,790. On road costs have to be factored in, but even so, the Polo GTI won’t be a lot over the 30 grand mark before it’s yours.
As is the way with many new European cars, Volkswagen has fitted a smaller engine than in the superseded Polo GTI. That model had a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, the new model has a 1.4-litre ‘twincharger’ powerplant. It has both a turbo and a supercharger. The supercharger pumps extra fuel into the engine at low revs, the turbo at higher engine speeds.
There’s some overlap between the two air pumps to give strong torque over a wide band, with the supercharger being de-clutched at 3500 revs, when the turbocharger takes over completely. Maximum power from the Polo’s twincharger engine is 132 kilowatts. This clever engine produces a strong 250 Newton metres all the way from 2000 to 4500 revs. In everyday driving you will have the engine sitting at peak torque virtually all the time.
Sadly Volkswagen Australia can’t sell you a six-speed manual version of the hot Polo as it has opted to import only the seven-speed DSG automated manual. While we are aware the DSG equipped Polo is quicker than the six-speed manual, we feel there are enough ‘real’ drivers out there to justify bringing in some manuals as well. Here’s hoping the decision is reversed some time soon.
Polo GTI is lifted in appearance from the rest of the Polo range by having blacked out honeycomb front grilles, as well as black backing to the headlamp surrounds. There are red highlights above and below the main grille. A bolder front bumper ties in with the extended door sills and complements the 15 mm lower suspension.
At the rear are chromed exhaust outlets and a diffuser look to the back bumper. Over the rear window sits a neatly shaped wing. The quick little Volkswagen GTI looks good without going over the top in style.
Inside are tartan covered seats, red-leather trimmed wheel and gear lever knob and sports instruments.
This little Volkswagen road rocket takes only 6.9 seconds to get to 100 km/h from a standing start. The six-speed manual would probably increase this to the low sevens, but that’s still excellent performance. All the more so when you consider the bargain price.
There’s a lot more than simply drag racing to 100 km/h to make driving enjoyable. We love the near instantaneous reaction from the engine and the way it just keeps on producing stacks of grunt. Overtaking is ridiculously easy, simply click down a gear or two, give the right pedal the message, and the Polo GTI leaps past slower traffic is a short and safe distance.
Another advantage of using a smaller engine is that the reciprocating components are lighter, so the engine is only too happy to rev harder the moment you ask it to do so.
You don’t buy a high-performance car to save fuel, but VW’s latest technology minimises consumption and emissions. Open road driving will see the Polo using fuel at the rate of seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres. It’s unlikely to use more than ten litres per hundred in normal driving.
Handling is nicely balanced and the use of an electronic sports differential means the Polo can easily be controlled on the throttle. It turns in neatly, holds its line well and is small enough to be able to use a lot of its own side of the road while still taking the ideal line through bends.
Ride comfort in the VW Polo is good for a sports model riding on 17-inch wheels, though some passengers may find it too firm on rough roads.
High-performance cars aren’t supposed to come with low price tags. Yet Volkswagen Polo GTI gives you the driving excitement for a very modest outlay.
Volkswagen Polo GTi
Price: from $27,790
Engine: 1.4L/4-cylinder; 132kW/250Nm
Transmission: 7-speed sports automatic dual clutch, front wheel drive
Thirst: 6.1L/100km combined
Skoda Fabia RS
Price: from $27,990
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl petrol 132kW/250Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, FWD
Thirst: 7.7L/100km; 148g/km Co2
Renault Clio Sport 200
Price: from $36,490
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, petrol, 147kW/215Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front drive
Thirst: 8.2L/100km, 98 RON, CO2 195g/km