The mention of a GTI pricks the ears up, gets the heart racing, and makes the mouth salivate.
With the stablemate Golf GTI consistently perched on a pedestal, great things are also expected of the smaller Volkswagen Polo GTI.
And it doesn’t disappoint.
The new VW Polo retains much of that Polo/Golf shape with its simplistic hatchback form, though some angular lines make it less boring than previous incarnations.
The GTI points of difference include red callipers, a red stripe cutting across the front grille and red GTI logos plus funky 17” alloys and a dual chrome exhaust.
A nice deep red coloured panel with matte finish highlights the dashboard from door to door affording the Polo GTI a more modern look contrasting against the glossier choices of many other cars.
But the basic layout of the dash is still European – simplistic and understated.
Everything is neatly laid out in a logical manner and all the switchgear is easily accessible.
The rest of the cabin is black apart from the red stitching on wheel and gear shifter and the sports seats have mesh and velour inserts.
The two main screens are technologically proficient with a centre console touchscreen in full functionality and colour graphical analogue dials in the instrument panel.
On that customisable driver info display, you can choose the type of information to display within the centre of the gauges for easy reference.
The Volkswagen Polo has push button ignition which is conveniently situated in the middle next to the gear shifter, which is where they all should be placed so you don’t have to go hunting.
- Auto start/stop
- Digital radio
- Paddle shifters
- Sunroof with manual mesh blind
- Apple CarPlay/Android auto
The drive is really what you get in this car for.
It’s push-you-into-the-back-of-your-seat stuff in the Polo GTI with a mighty 2.0 litre turbo engine capable of 147kW/320Nm. A huge jump from the 85kW Polo Comfortline.
There is immediate response from the throttle launching you forward while the default drive mode provides a more manageable but no less sedate drive.
The VW Polo GTI just feels fast and supremely manoeuvrable especially due to its compact size.
Cycling through the gears is well handled due to the dual clutch transmission, however it does hang on a bit in the higher geared sport mode.
Though it doesn’t have the same engine note as its bigger cousin the Golf GTI, lacking the same resonance or rumble but it still has plenty of growl and popping to keep anyone happy.
The acoustics are a lot louder on the outside than in the cabin meaning it’s one time I wished VW hadn’t improved the insulation.
Dynamics and handling are as sharp and precise as you’d hope for, making navigating curves and bends as easy as operating a slot car.
Suspension is fine for general cruising down the freeway but it’s noticeably harsh over speed humps.
Its size also aids in its economy with 9.0L/100km a fair result for a sporty vehicle.
- Blind spot monitor
- Park assist
- Rear traffic alert
- Parking sensors
- Adaptive cruise control
- Speed limiter
As is common with VW hatchbacks, the rear VW logo doubles as the boot release latch and the housing for the rear view camera, flipping up when you flick it into ‘R’.
I did encounter one hazard of this novelty – if the boot isn’t properly closed the camera didn’t properly open and nothing was visible when reversing. There are advantages to having a static camera.
- Immediate response
- Handling and transmission
- Power to weight ratio
- External styling cues
- GTI add-ons
- Great price
Not So Good Bits
- Flip up reverse camera
Volkswagen rarely fails to disappoint with their hot hatches.
Short of being on the track the VW Polo GTI is best type of car for getting around town fast.
If you want something that is small and manoeuvrable, easy to park and weave in and out of traffic but has a bit of balls, then look no further.
And for only $30,990 for all this kit and performance, you’re laughing.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI
- Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 147kW/320Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed sports automatic DCT
- Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: South Africa
- Price: from $30,990