My Drive this week was the Volkswagen Polo GTI. The reborn-again Polo GTI underwent a major update around this time last year – drivetrains were replaced, the three-door bodystyle was cut from the range, and purists were thrilled to find a manual transmission option was now available again. Yes, the Polo GTI was only available in automatic for a time – you’d think a sports car proposition would have a manual option wouldn’t you? But thankfully Volkswagen was listening and the faithful are happy again. Let’s take a look.

One of the more vocal criticisms of the last Polo GTI was that it didn’t look much different from your regular Polo, but VW has given the new model different looking alloy wheels, headlights and front and rear body parts to make it more obviously look like a sports model. Still, the design follows VW’s design trends for its cars with a refined, assertive looking appearance.

The interior is the same affair, with the typical dual binnacle instrument cluster divided by a vertical LCD information display. The centre console stack has gotten an update with a new 6.5-inch LCD screen dominating most of it. This entertainment system has the usual support for AM/FM radio, a CD player, USB music and Bluetooth phone, although it also adds the newer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone control systems. These two aren’t unique to the Polo, but they’re a sorely welcome addition and as a bonus, give you access to your smartphone’s navigation system, although you can also get Volkswagen’s own sat-nav as a cost-option.

The tartan cloth seats are much the same as before, and they’re quite a good mix of support and comfort. It’s a small car, so legroom is going to a little tight for taller people, but otherwise most people should be fine. Same goes for the boot, which comes with a very city-focused 204 litres of storage space.

The Polo GTI used to be equipped with that revolutionary 1.4 litre twin-charger engine, which combined a low-rev supercharger with a high-revving turbocharger to get the best of both worlds and enable forced induction throughout the rev range without killing fuel economy. Times have changed though and turbochargers have become advanced enough to kick in almost from idle these days, so VW dropped the supercharger and enlarged the engine. We’ve now got a 1.8 litre turbo four cylinder that puts out 141 kilowatts of power and up to 250, or 320 Newton-metres of torque. That maximum torque depends on your choice of transmission – stick with the seven speed dual clutch automatic and you’ll go up to 250, but choose the new six speed manual and you can add that extra 70 Newton-metres of torque to get very close to Golf GTI performance. The weird thing is, they both take only 6.7 seconds to get up to 100 km/h from a standing start.

The dual clutch auto has been refined further, taking off from second gear under relaxed acceleration and quickly working its way up while keeping revs very low for more driving refinement. The suspension is balanced quite well, not feeling too harsh under everyday driving but staying taut enough for some fun cornering. The steering has been moved over to an electric setup, something which makes every-day driving much easier but slightly deadens road feedback in sportier situations. Only slightly though. Combined fuel economy is officially rated at 5.7 L/100km for the auto, and a slightly higher 6.1 for the manual. My testing in the automatic scored a somewhat-higher 7.2 litres per hundred.

The Polo GTI comes in the one trim level, although there’s a couple of option packs available. Standard features include remote central locking, climate control air, cruise control, auto-on headlamps and wipers, front fog lights and a security alarm. The options packs include LED headlights, mixed leather/Alcantara seats, a sunroof, parking sensors and a rear view camera.

The Polo GTI retails for $27,490 with the manual gearbox, while the dual-clutch automatic version comes in at $29,990, both before on-road costs.

So some people will claim the Polo GTI has got its mojo back – they’d be right. Now that there’s a manual gearbox and more power, there’s an awesome combination of sporty fun and everyday practicality available for under 30 grand. Definitely worth a look. That’s it for me this week.

16 April 2016
Albert Malik

Volkswagen Australia announced local specifications and pricing of its new Polo GTI. Boasting new, more aggressive styling, an armada of assistance and convenience systems and a new performance-tuned 1.8-litre TSI engine producing 141kW with the choice of manual or DSG transmissions, the new Polo GTI returns to the compact hot hatch category with all the flair and heritage expected of the GTI nameplate. Producing impressive and intoxicating performance, the new Polo GTI’s 1.8-litre powerplant can be sampled for the first time in either a 6-speed manual or optional 7-speed DSG transmissions. In either form, the turbocharged TSI engine propels the Polo GTI to 100km/h in just 6.7-seconds. Because of the tuning parameters of the dual transmissions available, the engine matched to a 6-speed manual offers 320Nm of torque, while the 7-speed DSG offers 250Nm. Despite the different torque values, both transmission combinations deliver the same overall performance, with the DSG offering greater fuel efficiency.

The exterior design of the Polo GTI has been updated to enhance the sporting credentials and aggressive stance of the vehicle. A newly designed front bumper, featuring fog lights with static cornering function mounted in the lower bumper, incorporates the iconic red grille which continues into the headlight housing. Sitting on 17-inch ‘Parabolica’ alloy wheels highlighted by red brake calipers, the side profile of the Polo GTI is also highlighted by unique ‘GTI’ badging and unique side sills; while the rear of the vehicle maintains its functional, sporting appearance with a rear spoiler and diffuser. Inside the Polo GTI, the new exterior design inherits many of the impressive features seen in the Mark 7 Golf GTI, including a leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel with gear shift paddles (DSG only) and aluminum finish pedals. Along with air conditioning with automatic climate control, the Polo GTI also features the latest generation Composition Media touchscreen audio system with 6.5-inch colour display as another interior highlight. Of course, in keeping with the heritage of the GTI range, the Polo GTI comes standard with bolstered sports seats, adorned in standard ‘Clark’ tartan cloth trim. The front seats also feature storage drawers for added convenience.

Further adding a higher specification of convenience features to the GTI over the standard Polo, the Polo GTI also includes automatic headlights with coming and leaving home function, an alarm with interior monitoring, tilt sensor and SAFELOCK deadlock mechanism, a low tyre pressure indicator, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror and automatic rain-sensing wipers. While extremely exciting and fun to drive, the Polo GTI also offers a vast array of safety features, including standard highlights such as Multi-Collision Braking, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. XDL is standard on the Polo GTI, and offers greater traction and stability around corners – not only improving-on road safety, but also increasing driving capability and enjoyment. With an impressive list of standard features and equipment, the Polo GTI offers customers a compelling case for a practical, yet enjoyable jack-of-all-trades. However, should customers wish to enhance their Polo GTI, two optional packages are available which add great value for-money with a host of convenience and assistance systems.

The optional Luxury Package enhances the Polo GTI exterior and interior appearance with LED headlights and daytime driving lights, comfort sport front seats with Alcantara/leather-look upholstery and a panoramic electric glass sunroof. The optional Driver Assistance Package adds greater practicality and heightened levels of safety above the already stellar standard levels of the new Polo GTI. Included in the package is the Discover Media audio and satellite navigation system, a rear-view camera (RVC), front and rear parking distance sensors and the Driver Fatigue Detection system.

But wait, there’s more…
Because the new Polo GTI is a Polo, the sporty hatch also comes equipped with a number of standard Polo convenience features, including:

  • Remote opening and closing of the windows using the key fob
  • One-touch opening and closing of the windows
  • Internal headlight range adjustment
  • Component protection with Immobiliser 5 system
  • A chillable glovebox
  • Programmable two-stage door locking
  • Heated exterior mirrors

In top form, both technically and visually: Volkswagen presented the second generation of the Polo R WRC in Autostadt, Wolfsburg. The works team from Wolfsburg has its sights set firmly on another successful defence of its titles in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a new car and a new look. Volkswagen completed a clean sweep of all the World Championship titles when the Polo R WRC made its debut in 2013, before repeating this impressive feat last season. Continuity is the key to the driving line-up for 2015: double world champions Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F) and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N) will roll down the starting ramp and head onto the first special stage of the year for Volkswagen at the legendary Rally Monte Carlo on 22 January.

“The new Polo R WRC has undergone intense further development, both on the inside and the outside,” said Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Board Member for Technical Development. “Not only does it look even more dynamic and sporty than it did before, but our engineers have also been working meticulously on technical innovations under the bonnet and have improved many detailed aspects of the package that has been so successful for the past two years. The focus of this further development was on efficiency, reliability and performance. We can hardly wait to see the new Polo R WRC in Monte Carlo and at the other twelve rallies on four continents.”

Title defence in blue, blue and white: new design for the next generation of Polo R WRC

The most striking change to the Polo R WRC for the 2015 season is its exterior. The white has given way to dark-blue. White and light-blue stripes see the dark-blue front merge into the white rear, which features a towering new rear wing. Also integrated in the new design are Volkswagen’s other partners in the World Rally Championship: Red Bull, lubricant partner Castrol, Volkswagen Financial Services, tyre partner Michelin, chassis and clutch specialist ZF Sachs, and supplier OMP.

The Volkswagen engineers have been hard at work implementing many new ideas under the bonnet. The hydraulically activated gearbox, which is operated via a shift paddle on the steering column, represents the biggest innovation. Furthermore, three quarters of last year’s components were checked and many of them optimised, with the aim of making everything “simpler, lighter, and stronger”.

Quotes ahead of the WRC season

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“I am very optimistic that the new car will get off to just as good a start as its predecessor. We have done a lot of testing and we drivers have worked very closely with the engineers. We put a lot of effort into developing the new shift paddle, which represents real progress. We are looking forward to the new season. It will be exciting to see how we fare against the other teams. The tests have gone well so far, and our engineers have done a good job. The Polo R WRC is even better than it was before.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The new car feels really good, and we are ready for the new season – at last. We will be using the shift paddle on the steering wheel to change gear this year, and I really like it. On the whole, the new Polo is faster and even better than the 2014 car. I am not the only one to feel that way – Sébastien and Andreas agree with me. There is no question about it, we are looking forward to the 2015 season.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“First and foremost: the new design is really cool. I really like the new colours and new design, and am even a little bit prouder to be driving the Polo R WRC. I will still be driving the 2014 Polo at the start of the season, and will not switch to the ‘new’ car until the Rally Portugal. However, that is no problem. After all, our world championship winning car has more than proven itself, and is certainly anything but slow.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director
“A launch like ours today is always a welcome sign that the start of the season is upon us. The whole team has worked long and hard to ensure that we are ready for the Rally Monte Carlo. Today has given us the final boost emotionally. It is fantastic that the Volkswagen Board and employees support us so enthusiastically. Motorsport receives huge interest and backing at Volkswagen. It is now important to repay this support over the course of the new season.”

FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), 2015 season



22/01-25/01/2015 Rally Monte Carlo
12/02-15/02/2015 Rally Sweden
05/03-08/03/2015 Rally Mexico
23/04-26/04/2015 Rally Argentina
21/05-24/05/2015 Rally Portugal
11/06-14/06/2015 Rally Italy
02/07-05/07/2015 Rally Poland

Rally Finland


Rally Germany

10/09-13/09/2015 Rally Australia
01/10-04/10/2015 Rally France
22/10-25/10/2015 Rally Spain
12/11-15/11/2015 Rally Great Britain