Hot new Volkswagen Polo GTI unveiled

The updated VW Polo GTI hot hatch gets a 204bhp engine, updated chassis and new technology

  • Gains more in-car tech and driver assistance systems
  • Powered by a 204bhp 2.0-litre engine
  • On sale later this year

The facelifted Volkswagen Polo GTI has arrived, hot on the heels of the facelifted Polo hatchback. The refreshed hot hatchback gets more power, an array of driver assistance features and several chassis tweaks over the regular model.

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The new Polo GTI will go on sale later this year, and is likely to cost little more than its rivals, starting from around £25,000. When it arrives, VW’s smallest GTI model will go head-to-head with the popular Ford Fiesta ST and newly launched Hyundai i20 N hot hatchbacks.

2021 Volkswagen Polo GTI: engine and chassis

Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 204bhp. A seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox is standard, sending power to the front wheels. With launch control, the Polo GTI sprints from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and can hit a top speed of 149mph.

To ensure it's more agile than before, Volkswagen has fitted its XDS electronic differential as standard. This uses sensors to monitor whether one wheel is spinning faster than the other, and can apply the brakes to counteract this and improve traction as you accelerate.

The GTI also sits lower than the regular Polo, with a 15mm reduction in ride height to help sharpen its cornering capability. It’s also light, with a kerb weight of 1,286kg. Buyers will be able to spec optional adaptive dampers, adding what VW calls ‘Sport Select’ running gear, with several stiffened chassis components and four driving models. These include, Eco, Normal and Sport, alongside a customisable Individual mode that can be tailored to the driver’s preferences.

Design

The facelifted VW Polo GTI echoes the styling evolution of the standard car, inspired by the latest generation Golf, but with a much more aggressive nose and wide GTI grille. This features a hexagonal pattern with two integrated LED daytime running lights stacked vertically at either side. Like the bigger Volkswagen Golf GTI, the traditional red pin-stripe between its headlights is complemented by a full-width LED light strip. Similarly, the rear of the GTI also gains a new bumper and tail lights inspired by its bigger brother.

You’ll be able to tell the regular Polo and Polo GTI apart, thanks to the GTI’s red exterior detailing, the trademark ‘GTI’ honeycomb grille and larger 17-inch alloy wheels. Buyers can choose 18-inch alloys as an option, and one of five paint finishes: Deep Black Pearl Effect, Smoke Grey Metallic, Kings Red Metallic, Pure White Uni, and Reef Blue Metallic. The latter three colours can be combined with a contrasting black roof as a Roof Pack option.

Interior, technology and practicality

Inside, tartan trimmed sports seats and a GTI-embossed leather trimmed steering wheel are fitted, along with red contrasting trim inserts on the dashboard, door handle surrounds and centre console. A touch-sensitive switch panel is fitted above the gearstick, replacing the physical dials from the old car.

Standard technology includes VW’s Digital Cockpit Pro dial cluster. This includes a 10.25-inch display with bespoke GTI graphics, and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with wireless smartphone charging. A larger 9.2-inch display is available as an optional extra.

As it shares its underpinnings with the standard Polo, the GTI is only available with five doors, making access easier for rear passengers. It also boasts a 351-litre boot, which is larger than the 292-litres offered by the Fiesta ST.

Safety

As the flagship of the updated Polo range, the GTI gets more equipment than you’d expect in a supermini, especially when it comes to driver assistance systems. Included is the German carmaker’s IQ.Light LED matrix headlights and IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control. It also gets cross traffic alerts, lane assist and autonomous emergency braking.

Read our in-depth review of the Volkswagen Polo GTI and check out its rivals, the Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N.

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