New VW Polo GTI targets agility
VOLKSWAGEN IS PROMISING a sharper, more agile driving experience from the new 197bhp Polo GTI compared with the more mature dynamic character of the Golf GTI.
“The Polo GTI is shorter, lighter and better to drive,” said VW’S director of small car lines, Ralf Kölling. “The Golf has performance more oriented to the highway. The Polo GTI is more agile for a really good drive. The shorter wheelbase than the Golf gives the Polo that extra feeling of agility.”
Kölling and his team have been working on the Polo GTI for three and a half years and got the green light from VW bosses just six months after work began on the new Polo.
“We decided early in the project that we wanted a GTI version of the Polo and that has helped with having space under the bonnet for the bigger engine,” said Kölling.
Power for the new Polo GTI comes from a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo that puts out 197bhp and 236lb ft. The most recent Polo GTI had 190bhp from a four-cylinder 1.8-litre.
Peak torque is available with a flat curve between 1500rpm and 6000rpm and is understood to deliver a solid surge of performance in the mid-range.
A six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox will be standard at launch, with a six-speed manual becoming an option in 2018.
“It was a really hard decision between the DSG and manual, but the market is deciding and performance models are trending to DSG,” said Koeller.
Top speed is a claimed 147mph and 0-62mph 6.7sec – similar to the last-generation Polo GTI. Bigger brake rotors – 312mm at the front and 270mm at the rear – boost stopping power over a standard Polo’s.
The basis for the new Polo GTI is a much stiffer five-door body that uses VW’S MQB platform. The Polo GTI also features electromechanical steering and an XDS differential lock that uses the traction control system to limit wheelspin.
Other chassis refinements include sport suspension with a 15mm-lower ride height, stiffer solid front and rear anti-roll bars of 21mm in diameter and uprated springs and dampers.
The front spring rates are 31% stiffer and the rears 24% stiffer. The dampers feature two selectable settings – Normal and Sport – under VW’S Sport Select banner.
Prices have yet to be announced but are likely to be under £20k and competitive with the new Ford Fiesta ST, on sale in 2018. Some options are likely to be bundled into a Performance Pack. First Polo GTI deliveries are expected in May next year.
An even hotter Polo R model with four-wheel drive is technically possible (see separate story, below) but VW has yet to decide if such a model is commercially viable.
New Polo GTI packs 197bhp: 147mph, 0-62mph in 6.7sec
New 2018 Polo GTI features an overtly sporty-looking interior
VW’S Ralf Kölling (left)