Had anyone here forgotten that the VW Polo GTI was a thing? You’d be forgiven for letting it slip from your mind - the current one has been around for a while now, and although it’s a decent enough machine, the tartan-enhanced car doesn’t quite have the chops to truly bother the hot hatch elite.
Now, though, there’s a new(ish) one. Following the facelift of the rest of the regular Polo range, it’s the turn of the GTI. Like its milder cohorts, the GTI has adopted a fresh look that makes the spicy supermini look like a mini Golf 8.
Its 2.0-litre EA888 engine has received a little tickle, raising the output from 197 to 204bhp. That (just) gives the Polo power bragging rights over both the Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N. The torque output hasn’t changed, but at 236lb ft, the GTI has always had plenty more twist than the Ford and Hyundai, and exactly the same as the Mini John Cooper Works.
The inline-four drives the front wheels via a seven-speed ‘DSG’ twin-clutch gearbox, with no manual available. That’s not a change for the facelift - VW ditched the six-speed option ages ago. Shift through the auto’s cogs fast enough, and 0-62mph will arrive in 6.5 seconds, an improvement of two tenths. The top speed meanwhile is up by 2mph to 149.
The Polo GTI still does without a proper locking differential - instead, it relies on VW’s ‘XDS’ torque vectoring system which uses small brake applications to manage traction. It sounds like the chassis hasn’t changed either - there’s the same 15mm ride height drop plus stiffer suspension mounts and beefier anti-roll bars when optioning the adaptive dampers.
So, the Polo will remain a car that can’t quite trouble its closest rivals on a track or a nice twisty bit of road. Where it might win people over is the fancy gear it comes with. Highlights include LED headlights, ‘Travel Assist’ cruise control and a Digital Cockpit Pro with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster plus an eight-inch infotainment screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, and wireless charging is an option.
We don’t have any prices just yet, but based on the old one, we suspect it’ll start around the £25,000 mark.