Not the GTi that its name and looks suggest it might be.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Polo GTI
New Polo GTI is powered by a 189bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor

A new engine and gearbox make for a much improved small GTI - but is it a match for some stellar rivals?

What's new? When we drove the new VW Polo GTi in Germany last month (12 April), we worried that although it looked the part of a junior GTi and had adequate performance, its ride might translate poorly to British roads.What's it like? Well, our fears are confirmed. It’s understandable that the car’s chassis is set up stiffly to make it feel agile and responsive: there’s minimal initial roll and the car displays a keenness to turn. We’d forgive that rigidity if this were an indication of better things to come, but delve deeper into the Polo’s dynamics and it falls short. Set it onto a keen cornering line and bumps easily unsettle the chassis.It feels over-sprung and under-damped – too stiff when it hits a crest, but with too little control to contain body movements. A baby Golf GTi this is not.Not that, in terms of pace, it was ever meant to be. VW was worried that a too-powerful Polo would eclipse its bigger brother, but its dynamic failings alone mean there’s no chance of that. The fact it has a 148bhp 1.8-litre engine with slight turbo lag confirms that not only is its sibling’s superiority in no doubt, but it’s even more likely that the forthcoming Renaultsport Clio 197 – if it’s half as good as we expect – will give this car a pasting, too.Should I buy one? Which is a shame because there’s space in VW’s range for a decent hot Polo, and this one has some visual appeal, including telephone-dial alloys, a deep front airdam, a red-piped grille and tartan seat trim. If it kept the looks, was more comfortable and cheaper, it would be more appealing. You could call it a Polo GT.

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Comments
1

4 January 2008

i have owned a polo gti now for nearly 18 months and i cannot understand why this car is getting such a hard time in all of its reviews, granted, the suspension is rather firm over rough roads but it more than makes up for it on its handling, there is no roll and i have huge confidence in its grip. The only mild dissapointment i had was its performance, compared with its rivals it was a bit off the mark but since i had it chipped up to 191 bhp this car is absolutely fantastic, if vw had done this themselves i am sure we would be seeing alot more polo gti's on the roads.

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