If it really wanted to, VW could have given us a car firmer, pointier and more adjustable in its handling than a Fiesta ST or Clio RS. But VW understands its client base perhaps better than any other manufacturer, and so the Polo GTI’s dynamic complexion is less engaging than those rivals (though not, we’re pleased to report, by very much), but demonstrably less demanding to live with.
Even on the drive up the M1 to Millbrook for the track element of this road test, there was a feeling that this supermini shames some saloons costing three times the price, such is the fluency of its ride at speed.
It’s a fluency the Polo GTI never seems like relinquishing, even as you begin to explore its capabilities on more threadbare A and B-roads. This is not the most balletic chassis, but it is remarkably composed, turns in effortlessly, is nicely balanced, and the front axle generates so much grip and stability that you can confidently ‘back’ the car into corners on the brakes and bring the rear axle subtly into play.
That said, hot hatch diehards would, we suspect, willingly trade some of the car’s everyday usability for a fraction more steering weight and closer vertical body control (lateral roll is rarely, if ever, an issue in the Polo GTI).