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Volkswagen Polo GTI 2010 review

A budget-priced fireball has been added to the Carsguide Car of the Year winner.  The Polo GTI, launched in Australia on the day its smaller sister won the prestigious COTY as the nation’s best car, has been launched at an unexpectedly affordable $27,790 - including a dual-clutch DSG transmission as standard.

Even more amazing, the Polo GTI uses a downsized 1.4-litre engine yet runs the same 6.9 second 100km/h sprint as the 2-litre Golf GTI - a car that costs from $11,000 more.

VALUE

Volkswagen Australia marketing manager Jutta Friese says its “a great price for a great car‘’ and represents excellent value for money.  She says part of the price - which comes in about $5000 under expectations - is about the favourable exchange rate.

“It’s very much in our favour,” she says.  “It will have further impact on new models for 2011, including Jetta, Passat and Touareg.”

The Polo is available with one engine - the turbo-supercharged 1.4 TSI - and one transmission, a seven-speed DSG.  But buyers have a choice of body styles - a three-door ($27,790) or a five-door ($28,990) - for the car.

This compares with the big sister Golf GTI at $38,990 for the three door and $40,490 for the five door - and that’s the manual transmission price.  DSG adds about $3000 indicating the price gap between the two siblings is about $14,000.

Given the latest Polo is the same size as the first generation Golf, the choice could be a no brainer given performance is identical.

The GTI is built in Spain, compared with the other Polo variants which come from South Africa.

TECHNOLOGY

The 1.4-litre TSI engine uses a supercharger and a turbocharger to cleverly get power up to 132kW and torque to 250Nm. This compares to the previous model which had a 1.8-litre  turbocharged engine for 110kW and 220Nm.

Volkswagen claims the new Polo GTI also gets 6.1 litres/100km (compared with last year’s model at 8.0 l/100km).  It covers the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.9 seconds, compared with the previous model’s 8.2 seconds.

All this is due to the brilliant torque, power and versatility of the super-turbo design, though is aided by the rapid changes of the DSG.  Suspension and steering remain as per GTI standards, which is an excellent compromise between handling and comfort.

DESIGN

The Golf-like Polo looks the part. Volkswagen has trimmed the baby hottie up to look like the Golf GTI - they may be mistaken on the road - so gets the three main colours of red, white and black together with silver and blue.

The sports seats feature high bolsters and are finished - like the original 1976 Golf GTI in tartan fabric. Owners can select optional leather and Alcantara.

Compared with the standard Polo, the GTI gets new front and rear bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels in the Denver design, a small rear spoiler and dual chrome tailpipes exiting stage left.

SAFETY

Lots of features are included in the price - six-speaker iPod compatible audio, cruise control, alloy pedals, electric and heated mirrors, paddleshifters on the steering column, daylight running lights, airconditioning and so on - but safety is the GTI’s hallmark.

It gets six airbags, ESC and brake assist with other electronic chassis aids.

DRIVING

Jeez this thing is quick! Up Collingrove’s hillclimb just out of Adelaide, it literally flies over the jumps and yet has a tenacious grip on the narrow bitumen road.

There’s power from idle through to 6000rpm but you really feel the bang around 3500rpm when the supercharger is automatically turned off and the turbocharger is left to its own devices, pumping air into the tiny 1.4-litre engine.

The handling is exquisite - one of the reasons the Polo won COTY - and tied down even more in the GTI that sits 15mm lower and rides on wider, lower profile rubber.

The steering is pin sharp, the brakes dynamic and the seats hold you so firmly that you feel part of the car. On top of that, it takes to commuting with ease and is very comfortable and quiet even over rutted roads.  Love it!

Pricing guides

$9,999
Based on 63 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$5,500
Highest Price
$15,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
66 TDI Comfortline 1.6L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $3,700 – 5,940 2010 Volkswagen Polo 2010 66 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
77 TSI Comfortline 1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $3,600 – 5,830 2010 Volkswagen Polo 2010 77 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
Edition 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $3,900 – 6,380 2010 Volkswagen Polo 2010 Edition Pricing and Specs
GTI 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $5,700 – 8,800 2010 Volkswagen Polo 2010 GTI Pricing and Specs
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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