Volkswagen Polo GTI hatchback
Price: £19,730 - £20,350
- Impressive pace from TSI engine
- First class cabin
- Balance of comfort and speed
- Expensive to buy
- Not as fun to drive at a Renaultsport Clio
- Too grown-up for some
"It's VW's most successful attempt yet at producing a down-sized Golf GTI"
Climb inside the Volkswagen Polo GTI and you could easily mistake it for a Golf GTI, such is the upmarket feel of the cabin. Build quality is exceptionally high for a supermini and the cockpit is loaded with technology. Mounted on the back of the steering wheel, twin paddles operate the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and VW's clever traction control system sorts out the handling in sharp corners. The Polo GTI is a very desirable supermini but shares it's running gear with the cheaper Skoda Fabia vRS and SEAT Ibiza CUPRA, both offering similar specifications for less money. Under the bonnet the Polo GTI has a 1.4 TSI litre petrol engine which is both supercharged and turbocharged helping to provide impressive pace across the rev range without harming fuel consumption. Producing 178bhp, it catapults the Polo GTI from 0-62mph in a brisk 6.9 seconds.
MPG, running costs & CO2
This is one hot-hatch that doesn't cost the earth to run
One of the very impressive figures surrounding the Polo GTI is it's combined fuel economy. Capable of 47.9mpg it also emits only 139g/km of CO2 resulting in an annual tax bill of just £115. Also, as it's a VW it will also hold it's value well come resale time.
Interior & comfort
Strikes the right balance between hot-hatch and daily driver
Probably it's trump card, the Polo GTI is both comfortable and sporty. It's the combination of pearless build quality and fresh interior design that encourages passengers to relax, even if the driver is enjoying a twisty back road. Out on the open road or faced with the monotony of a long motorway journey the GTI settles down and simply gets on with the job in hand. Road noise is well controlled, the engine is quiet in higher gears and the seats provide all the support you need. It all adds up to a very impressive piece of engineering that is brilliantly packaged.
Practicality & boot space
Very practical considering it's sporty credentials
The GTI has exactly the same level of practicality as the standard car with both three and five door versions providing ample space for passengers, the latter being slightly easier to climb in and out of. An easily accessible, good sized-boot with false floor and secure storage areas makes shopping trips a breeze, the interior glovebox is also well designed and of a decent size.
Reliability & safety
All the usual VW running gear translates to good reliability
There have been no problems or re-calls with Volkswagen's latest Polo and the 1.4 TSI engine has proven to be trouble free so buyers can purchase with confidence. Scoring five starts in the Euro NCAP crash tests again provides total piece of mind.
Engines, drive & performance
A very grown-up little GTI, at home on B-roads and motorways
Although not as naturally capable in corners as Ford's Fiesta, the Polo GTI is fitted with stiffer suspension than other VW Polos and as a result still provides plenty of smiles per-mile. Body roll is almost non-existent and whilst it feels firm, the nippy GTI soaks up the bumps in a very grown-up manner. It possesses an uncanny ability to go immediately from enjoying back roads to motorways, a feat very few cars can manage. The steering wheel mounted paddles provide smooth changes and the combination of plenty of low down torque plus the choice of seven gears, means that there is always power to draw on for overtakes or simply for the fun of it. As capable as it is however, fans of early VW GTIs may feel slightly dis-connected from the action.
Price, value for money & options
Similar price to a MINI Cooper S but cabin does feel special
The asking price does seem a lot when comapred with the rest of the range but the Polo GTI does feel special and is a hoot to drive both on a twisty back road or on longer journeys. Standard kit levels are hardly impressive but classy touches such as the tartan seats and flat bottom steering wheel do make the Polo feel like a premium product.
What the others say
It certainly has all the right visual cues – just check out those telephone dial-style alloys and the subtle bodykit, with a contrasting red grille surround.
Here is the best attempt yet at a convincing GTI-badged Polo, a car with its own personality freed from the shadow of the Golf. It looks right for the role, too, with its deep valances, honeycomb grille, red stripes and twin tailpipes, plus a mini-GTI interior treatment.
Last updated: 22 Nov 2013