Grown-up boy racer dazzles
ROAD TEST/ The latest Polo GTI flexes its muscles with a 2l turbo engine that provides great bang for the buck, writes Denis Droppa
The new-generation Polo has grown into a fine little thing, a car with the solid engineering, value for money and finesse to keep it at the bestselling compact hatchback in its market segment.
The recently-launched GTI version has added some pace and aspirational appeal to the equation, and though one is reluctant to refer to its R375,900 price tag as a bargain in a compact-car context, it does deliver a lot of bang for the buck.
Visually the new Polo GTI flexes its muscles with a sportier bumper and integrated spoiler lip and fog lights, a red stripe in the radiator grille, 17-inch “Milton Keynes” alloy wheels (or optional 18-inch versions), red brake callipers and C-shaped air curtains in the bumper.
The sporty show-and-tell at the rear comprises an enlarged and black painted roof spoiler, chrome dual tailpipes, a black diffuser and LED tail lights.
The heart of the junior GTI has been enlarged from the previous 1.8l to a 2.0l turbo petrol engine, raising the power output from 141 to 147kW, and there’s been a major torque hike from 250 to 320Nm.
High-performance hounds will be more than pleased with the Polo GTI’s ability to scoot from 0-100km/h in just 6.6 seconds (as tested by us at Gauteng altitude with a VBox). That’s just one-tenth slower than the Golf GTI manages, making this topof-the-range Polo a relative steal, performance-wise, against its big brother which costs R172,700 more.
A six-speed DSG auto transmission, with the assistance of launch control, makes the chasing of such feats a simple task in the junior GTI. Unlike some needlessly complicated launch control systems that require a sequence of switches to be pressed, here it’s just a matter of holding the brake with your left foot, revving it up and releasing the brake.
For the fair amount of thrust going through the front wheels there’s minimum drama and tyre screeching. A brief chirp of the wheels and she’s off, and that fast hustle takes place
Above: The Polo GTI has racy styling elements without looking kitsch. Right: The flagship Polo is nearly as quick as big-brother Golf GTI. Left: The classy interior is glammed up with some colour.