New VW Polo GTI tar­gets agility

Autocar - - NEWS -

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)

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