It counters this by being more comfortable than either the Fiesta ST or the Mini Cooper, and by some margin. The ride does break down over broken road surfaces and you hear the suspension working away underneath you, but given that the Polo GT has been lowered by 15mm over the standard car, it’s still remarkably compliant.
VW’s designers have restyled the Polo’s bumpers and added side skirts, along with the bigger alloys and twin tailpipes, to emphasise the GT’s more sporting intentions. Despite this, visually it doesn’t shout ‘look at me’ like some small hot hatches do, but, depending on your perspective, that’s no bad thing.
Inside, it’s a similar theme: smart but conservative, with some racy touches such as sports seats trimmed in a mix of Alcantara, faux leather and ‘Blue Speed’ cloth. The seats are particularly comfortable, the side bolsters giving welcome added support, although you might wish they went back a few inches further if you’re more than 6ft tall, and that the rake and reach-adjustable steering wheel extended by a similar amount extra. You sit quite high up, too, but this doesn’t affect headroom, which is plentiful.
As with all Polos, the centre console impinges slightly on the room available for your left leg, but overall it’s a pretty decent driving position for such a compact car.
In the back, things are tight for larger adults, but no worse than the class average, and the fact that it comes as a five-door makes getting in and out pretty painless. Boot capacity is a useful 280 litres, with the added flexibility of folding rear seats and a useful height-adjustable floor.
The Polo has arguably one of the best cabins in its class, too. There are hard plastics dotted around, but it’s the soft-touch dash, gloss black centre console surround and clear, simple, switchgear that are the focal points.
It’s also well equipped, with a leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, 6.5in colour touchscreen, DAB radio and a driver alert system all included. The infotainment system is also well thought through, making pairing a phone or using the sat-nav (a £700 option) a doddle.
Should I buy one?
That depends entirely on your needs and how much you're willing to spend.
In terms of pure driving enjoyment, the Fiesta ST and the Mini Cooper represent the Premier League to the Polo Blue GT’s Championship. Plus, the ST has an extra 30bhp, which means it’s nearly a second quicker to 62mph.
However, if you’re looking for something that blends performance with the ability to deal with life’s practicalities, rather than something for a weekend thrill, the Polo GT is highly recommendable. It combines a decent turn of speed with some impressive fuel efficiency claims, while also managing to be comfortable, well equipped, refined, practical and nicely finished.
The main issue - and what knocks it down the pecking order relative to the competition - is its price. The cheapest three-door manual is £17,860, and our five-door test car with the DSG ‘box is £19,865. To put that in context, the quicker Fiesta ST is £17,250, while the Mini, which shades the GT for economy and emissions and all but matches it for performance, is only £15,300.