The three-pedal Polo

The lit­tle hot hatch gets a stick shift

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - JOSHUA DOWLING

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.

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