VW Polo GTi -Good things come in small packages

Hugh Maguire: gives his verdict on the VW Polo GTi

VW Polo GTi -Good things come in small packages

VW were really the brainchild behind the hot hatch with the birth of the superb Golf GTi in 1976 so they know a thing or two about high performance hatchbacks.

The focus of this review is the new VW Polo GTi. Borrowing heavily from their expertise in the GTi department VW have given the new Polo an extra bit of spice.

Prices for the new Polo GTi start at a not inconsiderable €33,170.

So has it got any street cred?

At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the Polo GTi for a Golf GTi, its really grown in size. The styling is subtle, no big wings or spoilers here and its all the better for that.

17” alloy wheels are standard or as on my test car the optional diamond cut 18” Bresica two tone alloys really add a touch of class. There are numerous small details such as the twin exhaust pipes, red brake callipers, GTi badging and subtle spolier that all combine to make the Polo GTi look purposeful but not OTT.

What’s it like inside?

As you would expect from VW quality is to the fore. I love the tartan cloth seats and the ambient lighting.

My test car had the optional digital dashboard which looks very well indeed and it came equipped with a long list of standard kit (too much to detail here) but highlights include, Voice control, App Connect, Forward collision warning with autonomous braking, Pedestrian monitoring, an electronic differential lock, selectable drive modes, and a host of other useful kit.

The Polo GTi will seat four but the rear is really a bit of a squeeze for adults.

The fit and finish is top class and you do feel you are driving a car that is just that little bit special, with figure hugging sports seats and an excellent driving position and a welcome sportiness to the interior design.

What is under the bonnet?

A four cylinder 200 bhp petrol mated to a 6-speed DSG gearbox with power going to the front wheels via an electronic differential.

Performance is spritely but not maybe as punchy as I expected. 0 to 100km takes 6.7 seconds, however its the mid range punch that impresses most.

This Polo GTi can dispatch a line of traffic safely and easily.

There is a sporty note to the exhaust but it all sounds a bit fake from the inside while outside its a bit better. Road tax is €280.00.

Will I enjoy driving it?

In a word yes! The Polo GTi certainly proves to be both an entertaining and rewarding high performance hatchback.

Point it at a corner and it will track your chosen line with limpet like grip and poise.

The steering is nicely weighted giving plenty of feel of what the front wheels are doing while the powerful brakes provide reassuring stopping power. The ride is firm on poorer road surfaces but not unduly so and the trade off of course is super handling.

The Polo GTi is great fun to hustle along a twisty road, yet practical enough to be pleasing around town too.

So What is the verdict?

The new VW Polo GTi is at the top of the price range in the hot hatch class.

The 200bhp Ford Fiesta ST for example starts at €28,120. My test car with some options rocks in at €36,024 so the buyers of this car needs to be an enthusiast who will fully appreciate the qualities the VW Polo GTi offers.

In that regard its a class leader, beautifully built, nicely understated, great to drive but practical enough to live with on a daily basis.