A Polo land­ing


BOY RAC­ERS re­joice - Volk­swa­gen South Africa has brought out a hot 147kW GTI ver­sion of its re­cently-launched Polo.

It’s the most pow­er­ful Polo GTI to date, and the five-door hatch goes up against Re­nault’s Clio RS 200 (147kW and 260Nm). Backed by a meaty 320Nm of torque, sports sus­pen­sion and a front dif­fer­en­tial lock, this baby GTI (Gran Turismo In­jec­tion, in case you didn’t know what it meant) be­comes the new hot-hatch flag­ship of the Polo range.

The 2-litre di­rect-in­jec­tion petrol four-cylin­der en­gine re­places the 141kW/250Nm 1.8-litre unit used in the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Polo GTI, rep­re­sent­ing a rel­a­tively mi­nor 6kW power in­crease but a big torque hike of 70Nm.

The new car fires its power to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch gear­box (DSG), giv­ing quoted per­for­mance fig­ures of 0-100km/h in 6.7 sec­onds and a top speed of 237km/h. VW also claims a mod­est fuel thirst of just 5.9 litres per 100km - when driven se­dately.

The Polo GTI’s ‘war paint’ in­cludes a red stripe in the ra­di­a­tor grille, a sportier bumper with in­te­grated spoiler lip and fog lights, 17-inch ‘Mil­ton Keynes’ al­loy wheels (18-inch­ers can be or­dered op­tion­ally), red­painted brake cal­lipers, and C-shaped black high-gloss air cur­tains in the bumper. An ex­clu­sive fea­ture in the GTI is op­tional LED head­lights with a red winglet, as a stylis­tic ex­ten­sion of the ra­di­a­tor grille’s red stripe.

At the rear, the GTI is iden­ti­fied from lesser Polos by its en­larged, two-piece roof spoiler painted black, along with a high-gloss black dif­fuser and chrome dual tailpipes, plus LED tail light clus­ters that pro­vide a very dis­tinc­tive light sig­na­ture at night.

In­te­rior glam­our com­prises a GTI gear knob and Art Velour up­hol­stered sport seats, with black rooflining, red con­trast stitch­ing, and a mul­ti­func­tion sports steer­ing wheel. The sports seats are op­tion­ally avail­able in black leather up­hol­stery with seat heat­ing. The dash panel can be or­dered in Deep Iron Metal­lic or Vel­vet Red.

The GTI rides 15mm lower than reg­u­lar Polos and comes stan­dard with sports sus­pen­sion on steel springs, but for ex­tra money you can opt for ‘Sport Select’ sus­pen­sion with ac­tive dampers offering Nor­mal and Sport modes. Whichever ver­sion you choose, the Polo GTI comes with driv­ing pro­file se­lec­tion which pro­vides se­lectable Nor­mal, Sport, Eco and In­di­vid­ual Modes.

Claw­ing power in all Polos is as­sisted by Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol (ESC), but in the GTI the han­dling is en­hanced by the XDS dif­fer­en­tial lock.

I drove the new Polo GTI at its me­dia launch in Cape Town last week and was im­pressed by the big-hearted per­for­mance of the small car. It’s a pleas­ingly swift hatch with enough power to cause a lit­tle torque steer when you give it full throt­tle in a pull-off, and at sea level the turbo en­gine has a lag-free power de­liv­ery that makes for brisk over­tak­ing.

It has a rorty sound for some acous­tic charm too.

The Polo GTI danced through Cape’s curvy moun­tain passes with en­dear­ing agility, and that XDS diff lock was ef­fec­tive at min­imis­ing un­der­steer, par­tic­u­larly when ac­cel­er­at­ing out of tight cor­ners. It’s a great lit­tle ju­nior GTI for those who can’t af­ford the 550 grand pric­etag of the big-brother Golf GTI.

The Polo GTI can be equipped with a vast range of op­tional con­ve­nience and as­sis­tance sys­tems, in­clud­ing a large panoramic sun­roof, and an Ad­vanced Safety Pack­age (which in­cludes Par­al­lel Park As­sist, Park Dis­tance Con­trol, Rear View cam­era, Blind Spot De­tec­tion, Rear Traf­fic Alert, and Elec­tric Fold­ing mir­rors).

Rear Traf­fic Alert takes much of the risk out of re­vers­ing from drive­ways and park­ing spa­ces. The radar-based sen­sor de­tects im­mi­nent col­li­sions with pass­ing traf­fic and pro­duces an au­di­ble warn­ing. If the driver or other road user don’t re­act, the sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vates the car’s brakes.

The new gen­er­a­tion Ac­tive Info Dis­play is another ex­tra-cost op­tion, and in­cludes a 26cm dis­play with high-qual­ity graph­ics that cus­tomises the in­stru­ment panel to one of three lay­outs. Stan­dard In­fo­tain­ment is the 20cm Com­po­si­tion Me­dia 20cm sys­tem (op­tion­ally with nav­i­ga­tion).

The new VW Polo GTI DSG is priced at R375 900 which in­cludes a 3 year/120 000km war­ranty and 3year/ 45 000km Volk­swa­gen Ser­vice Plan.

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