By Maggie Barry on 2018-11-03 - Experienced car journalist.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
ON a grey grimy day with the rain battering the roads, what a joy it was to get in and drive the Volkswagen Polo.
Granted this was no normal Polo but the GTI version with the extra push and the amazing throttle sound when you switched it into Sport.
The gutsy 2.0-litre injectionpetrol engine is fitted to a six-speed automatic gearbox for one of the the smoothest most powerful performances you will experience in a small car.
The GTI signature is there but subtly in thee black honeycomb front air intake, the gloss black rear spoiler, the red stripe on the radiator grille and the red brake calipers, some low key badging and of course the chrome twin tailpipes at the rear.
There's nothing incredibly flashy about it but once inside the Polo feels really good and very easy. There's no fiddling about trying to work out where everything is - two seconds and we were away (once I took the handbrake off). The VW Polo is a very honest car.
The colour touchscreen which houses the sat nav and other systems is easy to operate and as soon as you approach it with your hand the icons magically appear for you to choose what to do.
With everything locked away there, there are only a few other buttons needed on the centre console which leave the cockpit very clean and uncluttered.
The GTI version of this car has the signature red check upholstery and stitching along the leather-clad gearstick, aluminium style pedals and GTI logos spattered discreetly about.
There are storage compartments under the driver and passenger seats and more storage in the centre console. The back seats fold down and can do that 60/40 split that's so useful.
For those who like a bit of oomph in their small car, this is the first Polo with 200ps under the bonnet, so I wouldn't buy it as a first car for the spoiled offspring. No, buy it for yourself instead.
And if you prefer to be careful then there are Eco, normal and Indvidual modes to put it in as well as Sport.
It has the same engine as the Golf GTI and Golf R so perhaps that goes some way towards explaining how special the Polo GTI is.
Given that it is also a five seater hatch that means that you could use it as a family car during the week for the school run - and then indulge your girl or boy racer at the weekend - without the kids in the back of course.
I loved the drive. It clung to corners and fairly opened out on the motorway with that lovely Sport sound I mentioned. I also discovered as I rounded a bend on a country lane and came face to face with a van in the middle of the road, that it has great brakes too.
This is the sixth generation Polo which means that VW are clearly doing something right. It's fun yet practical, small and stylish, with bags of capability.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 147mph
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.9
Insurance Group: 26
Bik rating: 27%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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