With new, more aggressive styling, a new finely-tuned performance 1.8-litre four-cylinder 141 kW TSI engine, mated with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic, the new VW Polo GTI returns to the compact hot hatch segment with new-found flair.

It’s as if the Volkswagen Polo GTI has gained enough self-confidence to step out of the shadow of its bigger brother – the iconic Golf GTI – and into the glow of its own making.

Polo GTI comes with a grab bag of driver assistance and convenience systems. High-end automobile features also include remote opening and closing of windows using the key fob; one-touch opening and closing of windows; internal headlight range adjustment; component protection with Immobiliser 5 system; a cooled glovebox; programmable two-stage door locking and heated exterior mirrors.

VW Polo GTI comes to market at $27,490, plus on-road costs, for the six-speed manual and $29,990 the seven-speed DSG automatic (the test vehicle). And there’s the rub. Missing from the main menu are satellite navigation, rear-view camera, plus front and rear parking sensors, things found standard in many rival vehicles in this market segment.

Shelling out a further $1700 for a Driver Assistance Package adds driver fatigue detection. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, even more so when you realise an improved audio system comes as part of the Assistance package.

A further $3300 can add a Luxury Package to proceedings, which includes LED headlights for low and high beam, LED daytime running lights Alcantara / leather-look seat upholstery with comfort sports front seats and panoramic electric glass sunroof.


It goes without saying there’s the iconic red stripe in the upper grille, which continues into the headlight housing. The profile of the perky Polo uses ‘GTI’ badging and exclusive side sills, while the rear of the vehicle maintains a functional, yet sporting appearance, with a spoiler and diffuser.

A newly designed front bumper, featuring foglights with static cornering function mounted in the lower bumper.

Rolling on 17-inch twin-spoke Parabolica alloy wheels, there’s no hiding the red calipers of fade-resistant brakes, which especially went well with the Flash Red paint of the test vehicle.

The GTI also stamps its mark on the cabin interior, with the jazzy Clark plaid upholstery of the seating, a standard feature since the first GTI nearly forty years ago.

Sports seats in front are snug and super supportive, maybe a little too much so for the above-average broad-backed person.

The five-door hatchback’s rear seat is split 60-40 and the backrests can be folded down to expand load capacity of 204 litres to 882 litres. Features include a leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel with gear shift paddles and aluminium-finish pedals.


The systems offer Bluetooth audio streaming, with a smartphone including cover display and touchscreen control; a proximity sensor when a hand approaches the screen; and two-finger smartphone-style map zooming in navigation mode.

The latest Polo GTI is powered by a new 1.8-litre TSI four-cylinder engine – it’s closely related to the 2.0-litre version in the Golf GTI – mated with either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG automatic.

Technical changes have the turbocharged direct injection petrol engine putting out peak power of 141kW, 9 kW up on its predecessor, between 4300 and 6200 rpm (manual) and from 5400 to 6200 revs with the auto.

Torque likewise shows variations: the DSG receives maximum torque of 250 Nm between 1250 and 5300 rpm, the manual gearbox ups that to 320 Nm between 1450 and 4200 rpm.

A technical highlight of the new Volkswagen Polo GTI is the standard multi-collision braking system, which after a collision, automatically brakes the vehicle to avoid secondary collisions, or at least reduce their severity. The system can be overridden by the driver at any time by accelerating, or by hard braking with greater deceleration than the system.

ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist are standard on the Polo GTI.

Over the years, the Volkswagen DSG has not been without its faults, especially in producing uneven shifts in stop-start city traffic. The test car could not be faulted, with smooth positive operation.

Precise steering comes from an electromechanical system, a first for the Polo GTI. There’s an electronic stabilisation programme, smooths out all but the ugliest road surface blemishes.

Part of the ESP, is an extended electronic differential lock, which increases agility by means of brake intervention on the inside wheels on both axles when cornering to reduce the required steering angle. There’s no doubt of its effectiveness on tricky bends.

As befitting its sporting character, the latest Polo GTI rides on a chassis that is 10 mm lower at the front and 15 mm lower at the rear compared with the run-of-the-mill Polo models, allowing engineers to reduce roll to a minimum.

Fuel consumption is listed at 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. On test, the 1.8-litre TSI DSG recorded 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and up to 13 litres per 100 kilometres in traffic – that’s thirsty.

With Australia’s ongoing love affair with the ‘GTI’ tag, there is no reason the VW Polo can’t capture a swag of sales in the compact hot-hatch class.


VW Polo GTI 6sp manual $27,490
VW Polo GTI 7sp DSG $29,990
Luxury package $3300
Driver assistance package $1700
Metallic/pearl effect paint $500
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local VW dealer for drive-away prices.

17-inch Parabolica alloy wheels
Red brake callipers
GTI badging
Rear spoiler and diffuser
Automatic headlights with coming-and-leaving-home function
Alarm with interior monitoring, tilt sensor and deadlock
Tyre pressure indicator
Automatic dimming rear-view mirror
Rain-sensing wipers
Leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel with gear shift paddles (DSG)
Aluminium finish pedals
Climate control air-con
Composition Media touchscreen audio system with 6.5-inch colour display
Sports seats in Clark tartan cloth trim
Remote opening and closing windows using the key fob
Internal headlight range adjustment
Component protection with Immobiliser 5 system
Cooled glovebox
Programmable two-stage door locking
Heated exterior mirrors

Driver Assistance Package:
Discover Media audio and satellite navigation
Rear-view camera, front and rear parking distance sensors
Driver Fatigue Detection system.

Luxury Package:
LED headlights for low and high beam, LED daytime running lights
Alcantara/leather-look seat upholstery with comfort sports front seats
Panoramic electric glass sunroof.

(1.8-litre TSI BlueMotion Technology turbocharged petrol engine)
Capacity: 1798 cc
Configuration: Turbocharged direct injection petrol with engine, Start/Stop system
Bore and stroke: 82.5 mm x 84.2 mm
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Maximum Power: 141 kW @ 4300-6200 rpm (manual) / 141 kW @ 5400-6200 rpm (DSG)
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1450-4200 rpm (manual) 250 Nm @ 1250-5300 rpm (DSG)
Emission rating: Euro 5

Drivetrain: Front transverse, four-cylinder inline, 6-speed manual / 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive

Length: 3983 mm
Width: 1682 mm
Height: 1443 mm
Wheelbase: 2470 mm
Track: 1447 mm (front); 1441 mm (rear)
Tare mass: 1234 kg / 1242 kg
Towing capacity: N/A
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity 204 litres (rear seat backs up); 882 litres (rear seat backs folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
Turning circle: 10.6 m

Suspension: Independent suspension, MacPherson struts and coil springs. (front); Torsion beam axle, trailing arms, coil springs (rear). Lowered sports suspension
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), discs (rear). Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution, Brake Assist and Electronic Stabilisation Program. Brake energy recuperation
Steering: Electro-mechanical power assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Wheels / tyres: Alloy wheels (Parabolica) 17in x 7½in / 215/40 R17 tyres. Space-saver spare

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 6.7 sec
Top speed: N/A
Fuel type: 95 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.5 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 132 g / km

Greenhouse Rating: 8.0 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10

3 years / 100,000 kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *