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I’m going to begin by saying I’m a fan the GTI. The Golf is incredibly accomplished. It does everything so well – a two-in-one – a safe pocket rocket in a comfortable daily commute. It’s like the Head Prefect at school - an all-rounder.
The Polo has always been lesser than its bigger brother – smaller and more basic. But now there is a new Polo. It’s bigger, better and very accomplished. The previous GTI version of the Polo was undoubtedly a fun machine to drive. Its 1.8-L turbocharged motor is a gem. But by comparison, it didn’t match the accomplished persona of the Golf 7 GTI.
The new Polo GTI features the same 2.0-L motor as its bigger brother only it has been detuned to churn out 147kW/320Nm. By comparison, the Golf GTI hairdryers are honed to push out 169kW/350Nm.
But the Polo must be a lot lighter you say? Hmm, well not as much as you’d think! Remember, I did say the new Polo is bigger than before. The Polo features the same MQB platform as the Golf 7, so with increased size comes increased weight. The Polo is only about 50kgs lighter at around 1355 kgs than its bigger brother.
Albeit, if you drag race the two cars, the Golf will hit 100km/h in only 0.2 seconds quicker. Only 0.2 seconds. Yes, that’s right - the new Polo GTI is quick. You’ll hit the 100 km/h mark in 6.7 seconds and top at 237 km/h. Something to consider - a bonus if you will - is the GTI’s fuel consumption. Driven with zest, mostly around town, I got the car to a consumption figure of just over 9l/100km, but if driven at a consistent pace, on the highway at a respectable speed, you can expect 6l/100km.
So, what’s it like to drive? Let’s begin by opening the door. The car feels solid, planted and reassured, sitting around 1.5 cm lower than the standard Polo, which aids in road balance, care of the standard sports suspension. A visual reference of this sporting balance can be seen on the legendary red stripe in the radiator grille. If spirited driving is going to be something you partake in regularly, then perhaps consider the optional electronic dampers (at R5000) that adjusts the Polo’s suspension dynamic nature. With or without the system, Volkswagen hasn’t forgotten a thing – there is an XDS differential lock, which further refines the GTI’s traction when cornering quickly.
All these engineering highlights translate into a very pleasurable car to drive. This is a very accomplished hot-hatch. The car is brilliant – so good that Volkswagen could probably launch a more powerful Clubsport edition of the car to fully exploit its fail-safe handling and reassured manner.
Sitting in the comfortable cabin, you notice how nicely put together the finishes have been done. There’s a subtle hint of red and chrome that runs through the cabin as a design detail. It can be seen in the stitching on the supportive sports seats, on the soft leather steering wheel and 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox lever. The Velvet Red continues into the insert on the dashboard albeit there is the optional Deep Iron Metallic. Aesthetically, the optional full digital dash (at R9000) allows you to adapt the screen to your prepared view. It is well worth the money. It partners well with the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen system. A dream to use – you don’t need a degree in electronic engineering to run through its multiple functions.
The GTI is almost fully loaded with a long host of physical and electronic mod-cons. There are two additional options available should you desire - the largest panoramic sunroof in its class and Advanced Safety Package (which includes Parallel Park Assist, Park Distance Control, Rear View camera, Blind Spot Detection and Electric Folding mirrors).
In closing, this is the best Polo GTI to date. It is so good, Volkswagen may see some customers saving R170 000 for the bigger Golf GTI; proudly owning this happy little chappie!
Ford Fiesta ST, MINI Cooper S and Renault Clio RS 18 F1 EDC
Polo GTI DSG R381 500
The service and warranty
The Polo GTI comes standard with a 3 year/45 000km service plan and 3 year/120 000km warranty as standard, with 15 000km service intervals.
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