In its latest, most convincing iteration, the Polo GTI no longer exists as a warmed-up, glorified trim level and makes a strong case for itself as a bona fide sports car. A level of performance granted by an engine shared with its illustrious Golf GTI sibling sets it on the right path, but there’s now a depth of engineering that simply wasn’t there before.

There is fluidity, composure and no small measure of class in the way this supermini conducts itself along the full spectrum of British roads. Volkswagen has also delivered a class-leading interior in terms of both desirability and practicality, and so for a certain sort of driver this car will hold substantial appeal. But not necessarily for Autocar readers.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
A usable, quick and vastly competent effort, but not the most thrilling

The Polo GTI’s chassis gives its driver glimpses of fizzle, but it’s not a match for the easily accessible, delicate adjustability of Ford’s Fiesta ST or the Mini Cooper S. In its design, powertrain and handling, it trades on a cold, hard capability instead of character, and in this class we feel that’s rather missing the point.

And yet despite this, we suspect those who do knowingly choose the Polo GTI will be delighted.

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