VW has been testing a new Polo GTI, with a power output of around 200bhp from its 1.4 litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, at the Nurburgring and expects to launch it next spring.

The car, likely to be sold only as a three-door, will be offered either with a six-speed stick-shift or a seven-speed DSG gearbox, the latter with the paddle-shift cheaper DSG Polo models lack.

VW's Polo MPV, estate, cabrio plan VW product boss Dr Ulrich Hackenburg says the company has made big strides with maintaining traction in a small but very powerful, front-drive car, by careful development of an electronically controlled “limited slip differential” that uses strategic applications of its front brakes to tame wheelspin. Alfa Romeo’s Mito uses a similar system.

Hackenburg says the Polo GTI’s electro-mechanical power steering has also been adapted, by use of convenient on-board computer power, to predict and compensate for torque steer under hard acceleration.

The Polo GTI will bring with it a new VW design language when it goes on sale, which will be seen with its front grille and new spoilers.

Other Polo models in the Polo range VW has confirmed in addition to the three and five door models include the baby SUV called CrossPolo, while an estate and convertible model are also likely to make production. Meanwhile, VW engineers have managed to extract up to 280bhp from the Polo's diminutive 1.4-litre twin-charge engine.

It is understood that this versions, assisted by the steering and traction refinements above, will eventially be incorporated in a no-frills, low-volume Polo Cup, capable of 150mph performance.

The project is not yet official, and no date has been set for its launch, but VW is believed to have “noticed” the success of Renault’s go-faster Clio and Twingo models.

Steve Cropley

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