Volkswagen Polo GTI Engine & First Drive

Volkswagen Polo GTI Overview

Volkswagen India made inroads into the hot hatchback segment with the powerful derivative of Polo dubbed GTI. Sourcing power from the 1.8 litre, TSI petrol engine, it gets the familiar 7-speed DSG transmission. Visual upgrades made to the three-door hatchback are in line with its sporty character. Spruced up cabin packs a decked dashboard finished in black and red stitching around the leather wrapped steering accentuates the sporty look.

The high priced hot hatchbacks are essentially a tweaked version of the regular model with design upgrades inside out and a powerful engine pouncing it on the road. As for the new Volkswagen Polo GTI, India gets the three-door version priced at Rs 25.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane). Coming to the engine, the GTI plonks a 1.8 litre, TSI petrol unit producing 189bhp paired to VW’s 7-speed DSG gearbox. Changes made to the exterior are restricted to addition of new elements such as LED headlamps, a new honeycomb grille in front and an integrated rear spoiler among others. Inside, it gets new upholstery, a modish design for the dashboard and some new features. View offers on Volkswagen Cars from Volkswagen dealers in Hyderabad at Autozhop

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Volkswagen Polo GTI Design

“Familiar but hot as well” was the first thought that echoed in my head as I caught sight of the car rolling up to our test location. That was largely due to the bright red colour and lovely LED headlamps. Of course, this is me knowing what I’m looking at- most folks will still see a regular Polo at first glance until they realise that it is missing two doors. I’m glad VW chose to get the three-door variant to India. Aside from the subtly different bumpers, twin exhaust pipes and the GTI badging on the grille, front fenders and boot, there’s little to tell this car apart from the thousands of Polos on the road. Would I have liked some stripes or a more pronounced body kit? Absolutely, but that’s not the way Volkswagen works, and all its cars choose class over flash

Nevertheless, let me walk you through the details. The grille gets a glossy, honeycomb effectwith the red stripe at the bottom and abig GTI badge announcing the car’s identity.The air dam gets the honeycomb effect as well, and another differentiation to the Polo is the blacked-out splitter below the front bumper. I particularly like the full-LED headlamps and its integrated DRLs that are unmissable. There are a few red accents inside the headlamp cluster too.The side profile of the car is neat thanks to the three-door layout and large glass area with just one pillar cutting across it. Finally, I cannot move ahead without mentioning the taut shut lines that exude a sense of quality and solidity.

I do have a complaint -the 16-inch alloy wheels. They simply look boring and would fit better on a Jetta than a GTI. Internationally, the GTIgets 17-inch wheels which fill the arches pretty well, but Volkswagen brought in the 16s to improve ride quality.The rear end gets a blacked-out spoiler that extends from the edge of the roof and a faux diffuser at the bottom of the bumper. The twin-chrome exhausts add to the sportiness, and although the tail lamp looks like a regular Polo’s, the shape of the elements is what sets it apart.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Cabin

Open the long door and you are greeted by a familiar dashboard layout in an all-black colour theme. There is red stitching on the seats, gear lever, handbrake and steering wheel. The wheel itself is a new unit which looks sportier. You also get a new instrument cluster which looks classy and comes with all the dials neatly stacked. The centre console is similar to the regular Polo and comes with a touchscreen infotainment system. Above that, you get buttons for traction control and Park Distance Control. The audio system is easy and smooth to use and the sound quality from the 4 speakers + 2 tweeters is good too.

The sport seats offer very good comfort and support but they are manually adjustable. The driving position is bang on though. As expected from a VW, the quality of the materials is top notch. The front seats can be folded for passengers to go at the rear and there is average space for 2 passengers. The GTI misses out on features like a reverse camera and push button start though you do get a graphical parking assist. On the safety front you get features like 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, ASR, EDL, EDTC, electronic differential lock and wheel locks with anti-theft protection.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Engine

The GTI’s appeal really unravels when you slide into the driver seat, tip the gearstick into ‘S’, wrap your hands around the steering wheel and flex your right leg real nice. There is a slight hesitation when you depress the accelerator, before the car really takes off. This is because when the car is at a standstill, the DSG gearbox engages the second gear with one clutch and pre-selects the reverse with the other (the first gear and reverse gear are on the same shaft, and hence cannot be selected by the same clutch, making the selection of the second gear an acceptable compromise). When the car is in kickdown, the first clutch plate deselects the reverse gear and engages the first, causing the slight hesitation; after this, power flows like water through the sluices of a post-monsoon dam. Turbo lag is barely noticeable and peak torque kicks in as early as 1,450rpm, ensuring that the car pulls well enough in the lower rev range. As you climb higher into the rev band, and you do so rather quickly, you notice that the power delivery is meaty but linear all the way from mid-range until the 6,400rpm redline. What is most striking though is the responsiveness of the engine and throttle. Gently nudge the accelerator at any given point of time and the GTI eagerly lunges forward.

Equally sensitive are the brakes. The all-round discs have plenty of bite, so much so that many will find it a task getting used to them. Acclimatise yourself to them though, and you find out how adept they are shedding speed or bringing the car to a complete standstill.The kinetic experience is augmented by the auditory performance – the exhaust note spat from the twin exhausts round the back is not particularly loud, but it is crisp and sporty. Under hard acceleration, every upshift is accompanied by a satisfying snort and every downshift by a bassy ‘bop’.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox feels like a perfect match for the engine. It is eager and aggressive, upshifting in mere milliseconds, and downshifting willingly (though with a bit of shift shock) when the throttle is depressed hard. In ‘S’ mode (I highly recommend you stick to this for maximum grins), the gearbox obstinately holds revs until the redline and drops ratios quite happily. In ‘D’ mode, upshifts are executed slightly earlier and the sensitivity of the throttle is reduced, to make the car more amiable to drive in tighter spaces such as parking spots and traffic. The algorithm underpinning its ECU is adaptive in nature, which means that the gearbox adapts to your style of driving and changes ratios accordingly. In fact, the DSG does such a great job that you don’t miss the engagement offered by a manual box.The engine and the gearbox work together to create an impressive repertoire of numbers – 0-100kph is achieved in a claimed 7.2sec, and the speedo needle will spin to a lofty 233kph.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Driving

The Volkswagen GTI has a precise steering but I would have liked the feedback to be slightly better. It is very precise though. The car stays planted at high speeds on straights but on roads with some uneven surfaces, there is a tad loss in composure. The suspension is also stiffly set which makes sure you get better body control while the ride quality gets affected slightly. However, the ride isn’t bad at all and the GTI still feels comfortable. Braking power is sharp thanks to the all 4 discs while the grip from the 215/45/16 tyres is also very good.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Safety

Volkswagen Polo GTI gets electronic stability control with driver steering recommendation, ABS, ASR, EDL and EDTC. Other primary safety provisions on the Polo GTI are wheel locks with extended anti-theft protection, electronic differential lock XDS, 6 airbags, ISOFIX anchorage points, height adjustable 3 head restraints, 3-point height adjustable seat belts, power windows with anti-pinch mechanism, park distance control, rear fog lamp, front fog lamps with cornering lights and rear window wiper with intermittent control.Exterior gets a bunch of features like LED headlamps with DRLs and RED inserts, sporty bumpers, signature honeycomb grille, dual chrome exhaust pipes, body cladding on seal panel, reflectors on bumpers, ORVMs with turn indicators and dark red tail lamp assemblies. Cabin comes equipped with multifunctional leather wrapped steering wheel with multiple controls, paddle shifters, storage compartments in front doors, fabric seat covers and drawers under front seats among several others.

Volkswagen Polo GTI Cost in Bangalore

Volkswagen Polo Gti Ex-Showroom Price in Bangalore ranges from 9,40,797/- (Polo GTI STD) to 9,40,797/- (Polo GTI STD). Get best offers for Volkswagen Polo Gti from Volkswagen Dealers in Bangalore. Check for Polo GTI price in Bangalore at CArzprice

Volkswagen Polo GTI Bottomline

While I could go on and on about how great a car the GTI is from behind the wheel, it is a bit much from behind the wallet. Yes, this is a CBU, so the build quality is European and the high price also ensures exclusivity (along with the 99-unit batch size), but do you get value for your money? It’s difficult to say.But that’s the thing: the GTI is not about value propositions or rational economic decisions. The GTI is about emotions and feelings. It is a car you buy with your heart and not your head. It makes little sense to purchase as a primary car, but if you are is looking to buy a second car to enjoy driving and money is not a concern, there is little to rival the GTI. The Mini Cooper S matches its performance, but is priced at even more of a premium, and the Merc A-class and Volvo V40 are better for conspicuous consumption, but don’t offer the same go. It is a car for those who want to enjoy it, not enjoy showing it. It also helps that it manages to strike such a great balance between performance and comfort.

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