By Clive Funizwe
Now about the size of a Golf 4, the Polo GTI has grown in more than just its stature. Aesthetics, luxuries, ride quality and segment position is knocking on the premium door for a more seasoned buyer. At a starting price of R494,600 it is not necessarily cheap – but it does present tremendous value when you consider what is on offer.
Bigger and advanced
As mentioned earlier, it is about the size of a Golf 4 and this makes it a fairly roomy small hatch. Build quality is typical VW, which is a good thing. We nit-pick on some options of a red coloured dash (for our test unit), which is glossy and maybe perceived as something aimed for younger buyers but there is no faulting the fit and quality. You also get an optional IQ Drive which is a semi-autonomous driving feature that includes lane assist, cruise control is spec’d in our test unit with an additional Beats sound system.
We are not jumping for joy with the Beats sound system, we feel like VW should have let the Harman Kardon or cracking Dynaudio system remain the optional extra. The standard sound that you get in a Polo is better, from a sound quality standpoint.
Power is from a 2.0-litre turbo charged motor that produces 147kW/320Nm and will do a claimed 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds via a DSG gearbox that we all know and love, especially when in sport mode. Driving the Polo GTI is a fun activity, even when cruising. The engine/exhaust combo will not turn any heads but it has a satisfying though muted tone and the throttle/steering combo has enough weight and precision to let you enjoy the car. What remains exceptional is how “chuckable” the car is around corners. Handling is sublime and the car feels light, predictable and progressive. There is lots of fun you can have before you reach the under-steering threshold. Overall, there is impressive grip to satisfy most petrol heads.
Daily cruises in the GTI are a joy too. Comfort, a refined ride quality (by hot hatch standards) and an overall sensible cabin with great ergonomics have no day to day short comings, especially for those who do not have a need for carrying a lot of luggage and tall adults. We also managed sub 7.0l/100kms fuel consumption as we went about our normal daily in-town/highway driving.
The Polo GTI was more pleasing than we had anticipated; it is a very good option for the buyer who seeks fun factor driving credentials from a small hatchback who cannot stretch to the GTI. It even holds its own from a pace standpoint when compared to the Mini Cooper S, which costs significantly more. This is yet another do it all product from VW that deserves praise and consideration for a buyer at this price point.
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