For hardcore Volkswagen fans wanting a “go-faster” vehicle without a bank-breaking price tag, the Polo GTI is here.
Available in the RM132,888 three-door or RM135,888 five-door guise, the new fifth generation Polo GTI packs more power and speed over its predecessor while consuming 24% less fuel.
Launched at the Sepang International Circuit last week in conjunction with the Scirocco R-Cup one-make race, the Polo GTI gets the TSI supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre engine similar to those in the Golf 1.4 TSI and Scirocco 1.4 TSI.
But there is a difference - the Polo GTI’s unit has its software rewritten to mete out 180bhp or 20bhp more than the other two cars.
Couple the beefier engine to a fast shifting dual clutch seven-speed DSG transmission within a lightweight body of 1,194kg, the Polo GTI blisters with 0-100kph sprint of 6.9 seconds up to a top speed of 229kph.
Power is delivered instantaneously without any noticeable turbo lag.
From the outside, the Polo GTI gets the trademark GTI red lines running across the honey combed grille, GTI badges, double chromed exhaust pipes and 17-inch “Detroit” design alloy wheels to differentiate it from the usual Polos.
The interior is similar to the regular Polo 1.2 TSI but gets GTI themed red thread stitching on the leather steering wheel, seats, gear shifter wrapping and hand brake lever. Even the steering wheel comes with a flat bottom styling to instill a racing feel.
Like it or not, the familiar tartan pattern still adorns the seat fabric.
The Polo GTI feels more hot hatch than a weekend track machine. The little car impresses with its strong burst of acceleration and for the most part, handling is composed and the body roll well controlled.
Push the car harder and faster in tighter corners around Sepang and at first, the understeer creeps in. Push even more though and it sends a protest note, with the tail getting twitchy in a clear warning to ease off.
We later took the same corners in a stock Scirocco 1.4 TSI, a lower slung car with better trackside manners, managing the run through with better composure and less tyre howling drama.
But that’s a bigger car with a bigger price tag. In a straight line, however it is the Polo GTI that inches ahead of the heavier Scirocco.
The Polo GTI’s steering is the electric hydraulic type and we found it both communicative and precise.
Standard items are four airbags, anti-lock braking system, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability programme, hill hold control and an electronic differential lock that reduces understeering at corners.
Other features include bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, panoramic tilt/slide sunroof, aluminium pedals, front bucket seats and paddle shifters.
Volkswagen Group Malaysia is offering the Polo GTI with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty and a five-year roadside assistance package.
Its managing director, Ricky Tay, said the company was expecting to sell several hundred units of the Germany-assembled Polo GTI this year.
Available colours are candy white, flash red, black, reflex silver metallic, shadow blue metallic and deep black pearl.