Despite the Polo GTI’s impressive on-paper performance credentials, it’s not really the sort of car to shout about its sporting abilities on a visual front.

As with the hot supermini’s exterior, the approach VW’s designers have taken to its cabin errs on the side of conservatism. In fact, it’s largely similar to that of a regular, yet generously equipped, standard Polo.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Velvet Red ‘decorative inserts’ in the dashboard have a matt finish and give an otherwise fairly staid cabin a much-needed visual lift

The ‘Jacara’ upholstery, sports seats and GTI badging are about the only thing that set this hotter, faster Polo aside from the cooking models. The Velvet Red dash panel injects some much-needed colour into the mix, too, although it’s worth noting that this is an option on regular Polos as well, albeit in different colours.

Our test car was equipped with Volkswagen’s £650 Discover Navigation infotainment system, which uses an 8.0in touchscreen in place of the same-sized Composition Media set-up that comes as standard.

Its various menus and icons are effortlessly intuitive to negotiate and, along with very low latency, make this the best infotainment system in this class. That VW has not sought to do away with scrolling dials (there is one each side of the display for volume, scrolling and map scale) is also a big tick as far as we’re concerned.

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Discover Navigation comes with a three-year subscription to ‘Guide and Inform’, which not only provides information on fuel prices and weather but allows the navigation to plot a course based on real-time traffic updates.

Further increasing the technological appeal of the Polo GTI+ is the standard-fit 10.5in TFT display within the instrument binnacle. It features customisable menus and is fantastically sharp.

In terms of usability, those sports seats are passably supportive and comfortable, yet sit you perhaps a little higher than you might ideally like. Otherwise, the hot Polo’s driving position is largely spot on.

As for space in the rear, there is room for two adults – although head and leg room will likely be a bit tight for taller individuals to sit comfortably over an extended period of time. Boot space is identical to that of the regular car, which means it’s among the best in the class.

There’s 355 litres available with the seats up (identical to the Seat Ibiza), while folding them down opens up 1125 litres. Although there is a relatively wide sill to navigate, the boot floor adjusts for height to make loading and unloading easier. Bag hooks also mean your shopping won’t slide about if you elect to take the mountain road home.

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