What is it?
It’s easy to feel sorry for the Volkswagen Polo GTI. Not only does it play second fiddle to VW’s iconic Golf GTI, but more recently the huge – and warranted – success of Ford’s current Fiesta ST has also kept the Polo firmly in its shadow.
That could be why this facelifted version is quite a radical departure from what went before. Gone is the previous car’s 178bhp turbocharged 1.4 petrol engine, replaced by a more powerful 189bhp 1.8, while those who prefer a manual gearbox now have that option – in six-speed guise. The choice of three-door or five-door body styles remains.
It’s no surprise, then, that the new Polo GTI is now quicker, sprinting from 0-62mph in 6.7sec both as a manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The DSG model also emits less CO2 than the old car did, and the new manual model will travel slightly further on a tank of fuel.
All these marginal improvements are very well, but the Fiesta ST has proven that huge fun behind the wheel needn’t cost the earth. With a starting price of around £18,800, the Polo is comparatively expensive, so will its pace and handling prove that it’s worth the extra?