Volkswagen Polo GTI

Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2022, side
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2022, rear
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2022, interior
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2022, wheel
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2022, badge

THE Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the iconic hot hatch for decades despite challenges from many would-be pretenders.

But the growth in the size of cars in general means the VW Polo GTI - the Golf's little brother - is now well placed to appeal to hot hatch seekers and take sales from its larger sibling.

The latest Polo GTI went on sale at the end of last year and has certainly added a few inches all round.

In fact the newcomer is much larger than many of the previous generations of Golfs and is only 40mm narrower than the current Golf.

Not only that but it shares the same beefy 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that powers the Golf GTI, although for the Polo it's tuned down to a still very respectable 204 bhp.

That means a car which boasts a top speed of 149 miles per hour and a rapid 0-62 miles hour acceleration time of just 6.5 seconds.

Despite its impressive performance, however, the Polo GTI is somewhat of a discreet hot hatch that doesn't shout about its sporting ability with overtly sporty body kit or boot spoilers.

True there are GTI badges on each side and on the tailgate as well as a chrome twin tailpipe exhaust and disc brakes all round with red brake callipers but it's all very toned down, and in many ways that's the nice thing about this car.

Get behind the wheel, however, and there is no disguising that this is a GTI that really lives up to the name. It's sharp, it's fast and it delivers on every front.

The four-cylinder engine is mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox with a gear shift which can be quickly flicked into Drive, Sport or Manual and also comes with paddles behind the steering wheel for manual gear changes.

Add to all that a choice of three driving modes - eco, normal and sport - as well as the option to key in individual settings and you have a multiplicity of permutations to satisfy the needs of the fussiest driver.

The GTI rides some 15mm lower than the standard Polo and has a much firmer suspension which is particularly noticeable when in Sport setting. This ensures great road holding and a ride which, while harder, is still very comfortable. It's also fitted with an electronic differential lock as standard to improve cornering, not to mention adaptive dampers.

Whichever mode you opt for this little - or maybe not so little - car really lives up to Volkswagen's GTI heritage. It feels solid, it feels safe but it also feels great fun to drive. The sort of car which really does inspire you to take the long way home.

Inside attractive sports seats with deep side bolsters hold you firmly in place and it's nice to see VW has retained the traditional check cloth long associated with all GTI models.

On the negative side it lacks some features which make a modern car easy to live with like keyless lock/unlock and keyless start as well as a reversing camera, preferring to rely on front and rear sensors.

But one thing it does have which sets it aside from many of its competitors - amongst a whole gambit of safety features - are matrix lights as standard. These allow you to drive permanently on main beam without blinding other motorists and a real boon to safe night driving.

And on the subject of night driving the Polo GTI is easy to spot after dark thanks scrolling indicators and an illuminated grille cross strip running between the headlights.

Sensibly the GTI comes with a coasting feature which - when lifting off the accelerator at speed - drops the engine down to around 900 rpm and is effectively like driving in neutral to save on fuel.

And on the practical front there's 287 litres of boot space and plenty of nooks and crannies inside for oddments


Volkswagen Polo GTI

Price: £26,530

Mechanical:207 bhp, 1,984cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via seven- speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 149 mph

0-62mph: 6.5 secs

Combined MPG: 41.5

Insurance Group: 23E

C02 emissions: 154 g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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