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Volkswagen Polo GTI - IBB Review

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The history of Volkswagen GTI cars started way back in 1976. The GTI Polo in India is the fastest hatchback you can buy in India. Without beating around let us quickly take this one hell of a pocket rocket for the IBB detailed review.

Styling

For the Average Joe, this car can pass as a humdrum Polo. If he looks hard, he concludes it as a ‘slightly’ modified two-door Polo (like the good old Zen Carbon and Steel). Volkswagen has done this with a purpose.

The Polo GTI fits the ‘simple yet elegant’ philosophy of Volkswagen to a tee. Apart from the absence of the rear doors, the Polo GTI gets a subtly different front bumper, honeycomb grille with a red baseline which runs seamlessly into the LED headlamps, GTI badging on the grille, fenders and the boot and twin barrel exhaust. The side profile is identical to the Polo, except for the large front doors (obviously no rear doors) and the 16-inch alloy wheels. The rear also gets a subtle glossy black spoiler which renders a sporty yet classy look to the rear. Also, there sits a faux diffuser at the bottom of the bumper. And…that’s it!

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Volkswagen Polo GTI : Quick Facts

Interiors

The interiors also don’t offer many surprises, it is as expected resembles the normal Polo. However, Volkswagen has incorporated some differentiating elements like the center fascia finished in piano black, rotary knobs for the air-conditioning and a new touchscreen infotainment system.

The flat bottom leather wrapped steering wheel with contrast red stitching with the GTI logo looks classy and conveys the sporty character of the car. The instrument cluster is also different from the normal polo. The seats are covered in Tartan fabric, which renders a retro and sporty look. The car doesn’t get a push-button start which is a shocking omission considering the character and more importantly the price tag of the GTI. The interior space is same as that of the normal Polo. Access to the rear seat is pretty easy, the rear passengers can get into the rear seat by folding the front seat back with a simple mechanism. The signature fit and finish of the Volkswagen cars are kept pretty intact in the GTI.

Engine and Performance

The major highlight of the GTI is the engine that is plonked under the hood. GTI gets the 1.8-litre petrol TSI engine that is doing duties in the present Octavia and Superb in India. However, this engine in the GTI pumps in an extra 11hp and taking the peak power to 190hp generated when the TSI engine runs at 4000rpm-6200rpm. The engine also generates a peak torque of 250Nm at 1250rpm-5300rpm. The light weight of the GTI translates to an ultra-impressive 150hp/ton.

The TSI engine dispenses the 190 horses seamlessly without much turbo lag. The turbo kicks in pretty smoothly without a sudden surge in power, but the GTI gathers speed pretty fast and smooth. The car, in fact, is staggeringly quick and breaches the 100 kmph mark in just 6.7 seconds and has a claimed top speed of 235 kmph.

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The transmission duties are carried out by a 7-speed DSG. The international markets get a 6-speed manual gearbox as well. DSG gearboxes from Volkswagen are known for their quick and seamless shifts. This gearbox not only lives up to the expectation but also handles the extra power with aplomb. In the Sports mode, the car can be revved all the way to redline till the gearbox upshifts. The paddle shifters amplify the fun factor.

Ride and Handling

Volkswagen has made some essential underpinning changes to ensure that the GTI can handle the rough and inconsistent Indian roads. Volkswagen has done some significant work on the suspension as well increased the ride height from 140mm (in the German variant) to 155mm. The electric steering has a slight vagueness which erodes away some driving pleasure.

The suspension is definitely stiffer than the normal Polo. However, the Bridgestone Turanza tires plonked on the car really struggles to translate the power properly down to the tarmac. We expected some sporty tires to come up with the GTI. The suspension is tuned to give a fine balance of ride comfort and handling. The 16-inch wheels compared to the 17-inchers on the international variant has significantly improved the ride quality, however, has taken some toll on the handling.

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The car is not razor sharp as one may expect from a car with such power.The car has a tinge of body-roll while negotiating high-speed corners and the rear has a tendency to unsettle if not driven responsibly. However, at reasonable speeds and usual roads, the GTI is very much stable and offers good ride quality.

Volkswagen Polo GTI - Verdict Rating

The car comes to a halt from 100 kmph in just 3.05 seconds and that is really impressive. The brake really strong bite and offers good feedback to the driver thru the pedals.


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