Volkswagen has unveiled a freshly-minted Polo GTI, promising a compact package full of GTI-style driving appeal for when you want to get stuck into a favourite twisty road – and an array of autonomous assistance features for when you don’t.
The new top Polo, complete with time-honoured flashes of red trim, gets an evolutionary new look but overall doesn’t stray from the previous model. Front-drive, lowered (by 15mm) sport chassis, seven-speed dual-clutch DSG auto and 2.0-litre turbo engine are what make the new Polo GTI tick. Expect the same 200PS (150kW), 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and price likely to be close to the outgoing model’s £24,000.
That price may take a hike with the best versions though as VW has made a point here of making available features from cars a class or two up. Inevitably these days that means hi-tech bells and whistles, and the Polo GTI gets a range of them: LED matrix headlights, an all-digital, big-screen dashboard like the Golf’s, and assistance systems including lane assist and predictive cruise control.
Those latter two features facilitate IQ.Drive Travel Assist which offers semi-automated steering, braking and accelerating between zero and 130mph – as long as the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel. Which would your typical GTI driver rather have we wonder, this or a manual gearbox option?
The Digital Cockpit Pro will be familiar from other VWs: it’s all very bright and clear if, as shown in some of the pictures, all a bit over-the-top red. There is natural voice control and improved connectivity for access to streaming services, as well as wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s nothing extrovert about how the sixth generation Polo’s design transitions into GTI but all the same it works: at first sight the car looks sharp but smart. The front end is new and characterised by the illuminated radiator grille bar, an LED light strip that forms a link with VW’s electric ID models and is rapidly becoming a VW signature across all models. There’s a revised look at the back too where new LED lights comprise “dynamic” indicators. We like the red winglets up front while of course the red GTI insignia is a given.
Body colours are black, grey, red, white or blue, all of which can be combined with a black roof if so desired. That could look quite cool. The optional 18-inch wheels as shown are definitely cool. We are not quite so sure about that red dashboard…
“Once a GTI, always a GTI” as VW claims? We’ll know when it arrives in UK showrooms.