Volkswagen has been making go-faster Polos since the GT back in 1979. This was followed by the supercharged G40, while the GTI badge was first worn by the German supermini in 1998. This latest sixth-generation model aims to offer more excitement and driver involvement than before.

The Polo GTI follows the design cues of its ‘big brother’, the Golf GTI. New bumpers, GTI insignia, distinctive 17-inch ‘Parabolica’ alloy wheels and red radiator grille strips and honeycomb grille distinguish it from the rest of the range, along with standard sports suspension (lowered by 10 mm at the front and 15 mm at the back). At the front, LED lights are standard for the first time, while at the rear a GTI roof spoiler, taillight clusters in Dark Red, the black grained diffuser and chrome dual exhaust pipes continue the sporty theme.

The new Polo GTI is powered by a 1.8-litre (1,798 cc) turbocharged petrol engine delivering 192 PS between 4,200 and 6,200 rpm, marking an increase of 12 PS over the outgoing model’s 1.4 turbocharged motor. And unlike the previous Polo GTI, this latest generation is available with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. On the road the benefits of opting for the manual box are immediately apparent. There’s far more driver involvement than before and the Polo feels rawer and more exciting – just like a hot hatch should. But tempering that urgency is a suite of electronic systems to keep things in check, including ESC Sport (electronic stability control). To aide cornering an electronic differential, dubbed XDS+, brakes the inside wheel to reduce the effects of understeer. It really does work, and allows the driver to get the most out of the chassis and the powerful engine.

Available as an option on the new Polo GTI is a Sport Performance Pack with Dynamic Chassis Control which offers sportier steering, accelerator response and engine noise inside the car. This is probably best for track days only, as it considerably firms up the ride, thereby reducing the normal set-up’s pliancy.

The Polo GTI lives up to its performance badge, reaching 62 mph from a standstill in 6.7 seconds and has a top speed of 146 mph. Yet despite the strong performance on offer, the Polo still manages a combined fuel consumption figure of 47.1 mpg and 139 g/km of CO2.

Step inside the cabin and you’re greeted by a high quality interior which is considerably more restrained than many rivals’, such as the Peugeot 208 GTi and MINI Cooper S. However, it still stands apart from other Polo models, thanks to a leather sports steering wheel with logo and red stitching, along with gear and handbrake levers and floor mats that wear red beading.

Front and rear accommodation and storage space is decent for a supermini and while the 204 litre boot certainly isn’t class leading, at least the load lip has good access and the rear seats fold completely flat to maximise available space.

Equipment includes electrically adjustable door mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel, trip computer, air conditioning and and a Composition Media System with 6.5 inch colour touchscreen, glovebox mounted CD player and DAB radio. Also available is an automatic Post-Collision Braking System (which brakes the vehicle after a collision to reduce the chance or consequences of a second impact).


It might not offer the thrills of a Ford Fiesta ST, but nevertheless, the new Volkswagen Polo GTI is a much more engaging machine to drive than its predecessor. This coupled with the usual high VW build quality, decent comfort levels and generous amounts of standard equipment makes for an appealing all round hot-hatch package.


Tech spec:

VW Polo GTI TSI 1.8 192PS
Price: £18,900
Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl turbo, 192 PS, 320 Nm of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front wheel drive
0-62mph/top speed: 6.7 secs/146mph
Economy/CO2: 47.1mpg/139g/km