“The Polo GTi is shorter, lighter and better to drive,” said Volkswagen’s small car line director, Ralf Kölling. “The Golf has performance more oriented to the highway, the Polo GTI is more agile for a really good drive. The shorter wheelbase than the Golf gives the Polo that extra feeling of agility."
Kölling and his team have been working on the Polo GTI for three-and-a-half years, helped by the green light from Volkswagen high-ups just six months after work began on the latest Polo.
“We decided early in the project that we wanted a GTI version of the Polo and that has helped with having space under the bonnet for the bigger engine,” said Kölling.
Power for the new Polo GTI comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit with peak output of 197bhp and 236lb ft. The previous Polo GTI made 190bhp from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder unit.
Peak torque is developed with a flat curve between 1500rpm and 6000rpm and is understood to deliver a solid surge of performance in the mid-range.
A six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox will be standard at launch, with a six-speed manual becoming an option in 2018.
“It was a really hard decision between the DSG and manual, but the market is deciding and performance models are trending to DSG,” said Kölling.
Top speed is a claimed 147mph and 0-62mph in 6.7sec – very similar to the previous-generation Polo GTI. Bigger brake rotors — 312mm diameter at the front and 270mm at the rear — boost stopping power compared with the standard Polo.