The three-pedal Polo
The little hot hatch gets a stick shift
THE manual transmission is dead, long live the manual transmission.
Volkswagen has made a U‒turn on its decision to drop the manual from one of its most popular hot hatches. The updated Polo GTI due on sale early next year will have the option of a stick-shift for the first time in five years.
The current generation GTI switched to a DSG-only gearbox when it was introduced in late 2010. At the time, enthusiasts cried foul but the decision didn’t dent sales.
The current Polo GTI is selling at twice the rate of its manual-only predecessor. According to figures supplied by Volkswagen Australia, the company sold 1600 examples of the manual-only Polo GTI between 2005 and 2010.
But the current model has easily eclipsed that figure in less time, with more than 2700 sold from 2011 to 2014.
The Polo GTI currently starts at $29,540 with a seven‒speed DSG transmission but the starting price is likely to drop by $2500 to $27,040 when the six-speed manual arrives in the first quarter.
The midlife facelift for the rest of the Polo range, which introduces new engines and subtle styling changes to make it even more Golf-like, is expected on sale in September.
The waiting list for a Polo GTI is about three months, VW Australia claims, down from nine months when the current model launched in November 2010. VW hasn’t revealed exactly what changes are in store for the Polo GTI; the only clue is that the twin-charge (turbo and supercharged) 1.4‒litre four-cylinder petrol engine gets a mild power boost from 132kW to 141kW. Torque is likely to remain 250Nm.
About 8000 previous generation Volkswagen Golfs with an earlier version of this hi-tech twin-charge engine were recalled in 2010, but the company overhauled it for the Polo GTI and the same faults have not surfaced since.