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

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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.

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