Volkswagen Polo GTI (2015) First Drive

New Polo GTI Dynamic 001

The pocket-sized Volkswagen Polo GTI is now in its third generation and was launched to the South African media late last week.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Heritage

The Polo GTI first arrived back in 2006 and came with a useful 1.8-litre turbo boasting 110 kW. It was the best selling small hot hatch with almost 2 800 units sold. The second generation arrived in 2011 and this particular Polo GTI really upset the pocket rocket fraternity thanks to its performance. Its secret was a 132 kW 1.4-litre turbo engine combined with the quick-shifting DSG transmission. In traffic light grand prix races, this little thing was deadly fast and often embarrassed faster and flashier machinery. It was a real case of dynamite comes in small packages.

The third generation still follows a similar recipe, but the engine has grown in size. The 1.4 is gone and in its place is a 1.8-litre turbo with 141 kW and 250 Nm. The DSG transmission stays and performance is rated at 6.7 seconds for the standard 0-100kph sprint. The best news however is that a manual gearbox will become available later this year and that will have 320 Nm. The reason behind the torque difference is apparently the DSG unit in the Polo can't handle all that grunt. Despite the 70 Nm difference, performance for both models remains the same.

Visual Appeal

From the exterior the new Volkswagen Polo GTI looks a lot sharper and more aggressive than the outgoing model. The old GTI wheels have been replaced by very attractive Parabolicca alloys, there's some smart LED headlights. Some of the trademark GTI styling cues have been retained such as the daytime running lights as well as red trim around the front bumper. Build quality both inside and out is really solid. Think of this then as a baby Golf 7 GTI - a compliment indeed!

What's It Like To Drive?

Much like the old Polo GTI, straight line acceleration is impressive with the DSG box seamlessly changing cogs with the stereotypical exhaust pop between gears. Its not as loud as I had hoped, but it's nevertheless an effortless performer. You can also change gears by using the paddles located behind the steering wheel. For more information and details about the new Volkswagen Polo GTI's specifications and features, click here.

Throw some corners into the mix and the Polo GTI continues to be a solid performer. There's no drama from the front wheels as the clever stability control & e-diff keeps things in check. Grab the car by the scruff of the neck and give it the boot, and still the car shows little sign of waywardness. The launch route took us through two of the best driving roads in Cape Town - a sign that Volkswagen SA wanted us to really experience what its little car is capable of.

Criticisms? As far as a daily drive goes, the Polo GTI is a hard act to follow. However it's a little lacking in the aural and emotional departments. Could it be too clinical? Don't get me wrong, you can really have some fun with the thing, but its not pulling at my heartstrings like a Fiesta ST does. Perhaps I need some more time with it and take some time to get under its skin.

VW Polo GTI Price in South Africa

1.8 TSI 141 kW GTI DSG                         R326 400

The new Polo GTI comes standard with a 3 year/45 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.