Volkswagen Polo GTI review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Volkswagen Polo GTI has a novel 1.4-litre twin-charged engine, a stiffened chassis set up and Golf GTI-inspired looks

For: 
Smart looks, punchy engine, quality cabin
Against: 
Dull handling, no manual option, firm ride

The VW Polo GTI is the smallest hot hatch Volkswagen makes. This Polo forever lives in the shadow of the VW Golf GTI, its legendary bigger brother, but it's still a capable and rewarding hot hatch in its own right. Its main rivals are VW Group stablemates the Skoda Fabia vRS and SEAT Ibiza Cupra. Styling cues taken from the Golf GTI give the Polo a chunky, aggressive look, while the combination of a 178bhp, 1.4-litre twin-charged petrol engine and VW's twin-clutch DSG gearbox makes for exciting performance. The Polo GTI is available as both a three-door and five-door model, so those who need practicality don't have to miss out.

Our choice: Polo GTI 1.4 TSI DSG 3dr

Styling

4

The Volkswagen Polo GTI has taken inspiration from the Golf GTI to set itself apart from the regular Polo. This means distinctive red trim around the grille and smart details both outside and in. Sporty 17-inch alloy wheels come as standard, helping to give the hot Polo a muscular, purposeful stance. The interior features supportive sports seats and a chunky, leather-trimmed steering wheel, giving a classy feel to the cabin. You'll also spot red leather stitching and motorsport-style aluminium-effect pedals – both unique to the GTI version of the Polo.

Driving

3.5

The VW Polo GTI has 15mm lower suspension than the standard car and is powered by a 178bhp engine with a supercharger and turbocharger that produces 250Nm of torque. Power is delivered through the twin-clutch VW DSG gearbox and there's also an electronic limited-slip differential. This all looks quite promising on paper, but the car turns out to be a little disappointing to drive. It's certainly fast, yet poor traction and uncommunicative steering mean it's not as entertaining or involving as it could be. Body roll is well controlled in corners thanks to harder suspension, however the downside of this is a fairly firm and uncomfortable ride.

Reliability

3.8

Volkswagen is renowned for building high-quality, solid and safe cars. The Polo GTI is no exception, and features driver, side and passenger airbags as standard. ISOFIX is also standard, though you have to pay extra for the ability to de-activate the front passenger airbag, and curtain airbags are also optional. The stability control and electronic differential lock work together to deliver very safe and predictable handling in slippery conditions. Reliability is generally good, and you also enjoy peace of mind thanks to VW's standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Practicality

3.7

A logically laid-out cabin and plenty of room for most passengers mean the Polo scores well here, although taller adults may find their heads brushing the roof if they sit in the back. With the rear seats in place, the boot only hold 185 litres of luggage, but that increases to 882 litres when they're folded flat. The Polo GTI has a space-saving spare wheel as standard, too.

Running Costs

3.8

The Polo GTI is reasonably efficient for a hot hatch. In normal everyday driving, it should return almost 48mpg, and with CO2 emissions of just 139g/km, tax and company-car bills will be manageable, too. Economy is helped by the standard twin-clutch DSG gearbox, although some keen drivers will no doubt be disappointed at the lack of a manual version. As a desirable high-performance car, the Polo GTI will be quite pricey to insure – especially for young drivers – but fixed-price packages help to keep servicing costs under control.

Disqus - noscript

The fact this car doesn't have a manual option is the reason I'm not buying it.

What ever happened to revving the nuts off something, or a bit of heel toe?

Try shifting from 5th to 2nd in a DSG, you can't. It's nothing more than a fancy automatic. Great in a race where a 10th of a second matters, but it spoils the driving experience for me.

Boo

I was actually thinking of getting this car - but for this class I'd much rather get the 208 GTi. Most of that is down to price; options like curtain airbags and air-conditioning do NOT come as standard and are very pricey to add (relative to the class). Once I added Sat-Nav as well the config was pushing close to £22,000. For that money I could go the next size up and get an Astra GTC SRi, Focus ST or Pro_Cee'd GT.

I now understand why I've never seen a Polo GTi on the road.

"it should return 48mpg"

How can guys write ridiculous things like that?

28 more likely - less if driven hard.

I placed a order for a new one and picked it up 2 weeks ago,this is the third dsg I've had and they're a lot more than a "fancy automatic" I normally find people that moan about them have either never driven with one,or dont know how to get the most out of the gearbox. As for the price,once I had speced mine up it came in at just over 23k,with a bit of haggling got that down to 20,500 with 1 years insurance 1 years tax full tank of fuel and 3 years parts and labour servicing,also got a real good deal on my px.....7.500 for a 09 leon fr

Last updated: 2 Sep, 2013
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