Volkswagen India made inroads into the hot hatchback segment with the powerful derivative of Polo dubbed GTI. Sourcing power from the 1.8 litre, TSI petrol engine, it gets the familiar 7-speed DSG transmission. Visual upgrades made to the three-door hatchback are in line with its sporty character. Spruced up cabin packs a decked dashboard finished in black and red stitching around the leather wrapped steering accentuates the sporty look.
The high priced hot hatchbacks are essentially a tweaked version of the regular model with design upgrades inside out and a powerful engine pouncing it on the road. As for the new Volkswagen Polo GTI, India gets the three-door version priced at Rs 25.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane). Coming to the engine, the GTI plonks a 1.8 litre, TSI petrol unit producing 189bhp paired to VW’s 7-speed DSG gearbox. Changes made to the exterior are restricted to addition of new elements such as LED headlamps, a new honeycomb grille in front and an integrated rear spoiler among others. Inside, it gets new upholstery, a modish design for the dashboard and some new features. Check Price of Polo GTI
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
“Familiar but hot as well” was the first thought that echoed in my head as I caught sight of the car rolling up to our test location. That was largely due to the bright red colour and lovely LED headlamps. Of course, this is me knowing what I’m looking at- most folks will still see a regular Polo at first glance until they realise that it is missing two doors. I’m glad VW chose to get the three-door variant to India. Aside from the subtly different bumpers, twin exhaust pipes and the GTI badging on the grille, front fenders and boot, there’s little to tell this car apart from the thousands of Polos on the road. Would I have liked some stripes or a more pronounced body kit? Absolutely, but that’s not the way Volkswagen works, and all its cars choose class over flash
Nevertheless, let me walk you through the details. The grille gets a glossy, honeycomb effectwith the red stripe at the bottom and abig GTI badge announcing the car’s identity.The air dam gets the honeycomb effect as well, and another differentiation to the Polo is the blacked-out splitter below the front bumper. I particularly like the full-LED headlamps and its integrated DRLs that are unmissable. There are a few red accents inside the headlamp cluster too.The side profile of the car is neat thanks to the three-door layout and large glass area with just one pillar cutting across it. Finally, I cannot move ahead without mentioning the taut shut lines that exude a sense of quality and solidity.
I do have a complaint -the 16-inch alloy wheels. They simply look boring and would fit better on a Jetta than a GTI. Internationally, the GTIgets 17-inch wheels which fill the arches pretty well, but Volkswagen brought in the 16s to improve ride quality.The rear end gets a blacked-out spoiler that extends from the edge of the roof and a faux diffuser at the bottom of the bumper. The twin-chrome exhausts add to the sportiness, and although the tail lamp looks like a regular Polo’s, the shape of the elements is what sets it apart.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The Volkswagen Polo GTI interior has sporty front seats with enlarged bolster and height adjustment, while the rear seats offer a 60:40 fold function. The seat trim covers are finished in fabric ‘Clark’ with GTI signature red colour strips and stitching. There is a sporty flat-bottomed leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with ‘GTI’-inscribed red stitching and paddle shifters. The company engineers have provided a plethora of storage compartments in the hatch in the form of drawers under the front seats, sunglass, coins, card and pen holders inside the glove box, bottle holders in the front doors, map pockets at the back of the front seats, coat hooks at the rear, etc., to mention a few. The front centre console houses a 12 V outlet to charge your smartphone. It gets hill start assist, cooled glove box, start/stop system with generative braking, cruise control, climatronic air conditioning system and luggage compartment lighting. A music system with 6 speakers, and Aux-in, USB and Bluetooth connectivity is a standard feature on the hatch.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
This is the exciting bit. Under the hood of the GTI is a retuned version of the 1.8-litre TSI motor that powers the current Octavia. This iteration makes 192bhp between 5,400rpm and 6,200rpm; which is 12bhp more than the 180bhp that’s made in the Skoda Octavia. It goes without saying that it’s the engine that makes the GTI live up to its ‘hot hatch’ moniker. What’s nice about this motor is the manner in which it picks up pace in an extremely linear fashion in spite of turbo boost being in full swing.
The feeling of speed is masked well and it’s only when you glance at the speedo that you realise how deceptively quick it is. Briskly racing off the mark when the throttle is slammed in Sport mode, the lightning-quick shifts are actuated by the seven-speed DSG ‘box at the 6600rpm redline. In case you want to be in total control of gear shifts, a manual mode with paddle shifters is also in the offing.
In this mode the DSG holds the gear all the way to the red line before shifting, and throttle responses are quick everywhere in the rev-range. This also reflects in the 0-100kmph run which is despatched in 6.57sec. However, if you’re not in the mood for some spirited driving (I couldn’t see that happening!), sticking to the ‘D’ mode makes sense with its less maniac responses. The reaction from the motor, in kickdown for 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph sprints that were clocked in 4.21sec and 4.77sec, is an indication of how overtaking can be swiftly accomplished.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Punching out power is one thing; putting it to the roads is a whole different ballgame, and one that the Polo GTI plays well. Enter a corner at high speeds and you will be surprised by the amount of grip offered and containment of body roll. The nose is a tad hesitant to point into a corner, but beyond that, the Polo GTI goes round bends with remarkable neutrality. It feels composed and tight, gripping onto the road like a barnacle onto a sea-washed rock. In fact, you have to try very, very hard to make the GTI depart from the line you have selected.The steering adds to the great handling – it is quick, accurate and well-weighted, offering adequate feedback, and while there is a bit of torque steer, it is quite well-contained, especially when you consider the power being belted out by the engine.
The GTI’s handling is complemented by its suspension. While on the firmer side, it is surprisingly pliant. Its sporty setup may have been softened up slightly to deal with India’s poor roads, and while an enthusiast may dislike the absence of a properly taut ride, the ability to tackle bumps, lumps and crests will definitely be appreciated over time. The ride is reasonably absorbent at both low and high speeds, though I did feel the car unsettle a bit when driven over bad roads at a faster pace
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
Volkswagen Polo GTI gets electronic stability control with driver steering recommendation, ABS, ASR, EDL and EDTC. Other primary safety provisions on the Polo GTI are wheel locks with extended anti-theft protection, electronic differential lock XDS, 6 airbags, ISOFIX anchorage points, height adjustable 3 head restraints, 3-point height adjustable seat belts, power windows with anti-pinch mechanism, park distance control, rear fog lamp, front fog lamps with cornering lights and rear window wiper with intermittent control.
There is no doubt in the fact that the Volkswagen Polo GTI is a worthy hot hatchback which can bring smile on the faces of those who sits behind its wheels. But offcourse it’s pricing is a bit too steep for the Indian market which definitely could be a big letdown for many however with all that money you are getting a hot hatchback which not only looks good but also packs a lot of punch from the 1.8 Litre unit. The hot hatchback also gets plenty of driver aids as well to assists the driver and also to keep the occupants safe inside.