GTI – three letters that stand for two icons of the automobile world: the Golf GTI and the Polo GTI. Often copied, never equalled. The originals come from Volkswagen. The German manufacturer launched the latest version of the Golf GTI in 2013, and now, in a world premiere at the Mondial de l`Automobile in Paris (2–19 October), comes the launch of its compact but powerful brother, the Polo GTI. With the Paris debut Volkswagen is continuing the tradition of the ultra-sporty Polo which began almost 30 years ago with the legendary Polo G40 in 1985 and which is now culminating in the fourth generation of the Polo GTI. Power is supplied by a new 1.8 TSI engine, which at precisely 141 kW / 192 PS is 12 PS more powerful than its predecessor (1.4 TSI) and comes close to achieving the performance levels of the most powerful series Polo of all time, the Polo R WRC – the road-going version of the Polo that won the World Rally Championship for Volkswagen Motorsport at the first time of asking in 2013.
GTI on a par with the R WRC. With a top speed of 236 km/h the new Polo GTI only falls 7 km/h short of the 162 kW / 220 PS Polo R WRC, which is sold out. With both transmission variants, the new Polo GTI accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, just a whisker short of the figure for the Polo R WRC: 0.3 seconds, to be precise. Yet the figures for the new Polo GTI's fuel consumption show just how amazingly efficient it is: 5.6 l/100 km (equivalent to 129 g/km CO2) in conjunction with the 7-speed DSG, and 6.0 litres (139 g/km CO2) with the 6-speed manual variant. And here the Polo R WRC (7.5 l/100 km) is finally overtaken by the new Polo GTI.
Exterior design and features
Powerful design, distinctive GTI insignia. The Polo GTI showcased in Paris is clearly recognisable as the sporty flagship of the series, both in the 2-door and the 4-door version. New bumpers, GTI insignia, distinctive wheels and the red radiator grille strips give the car a dynamic appearance, boosted by the standard sports suspension.
The GTI front section. The Polo GTI will be available for the first time with LED headlights (dipped and main beam), and daytime running lights also provided by LEDs. Hallmarks of the Polo GTI include the red strip framing the radiator grille with its characteristic GTI honeycomb structure; in the new Polo GTI this strip. The lower, much bigger air intake has also acquired a newly designed honeycomb grille and is framed at each side by fog lights as standard (including cornering lights) and splitters, the kind of spoilers used in motor sports, in high-gloss 'Black'.
The GTI silhouette and rear section. The silhouette and the rear also boast sporty design features. The door sills are distinctively flared, adding further to the Polo GTI's sporty appeal, along with the new 17-inch alloy wheels with GTI styling through which the gleaming red brake callipers are visible. At the rear, the GTI roof spoiler, prominent roof antenna, tail light clusters in 'Dark Red', the black grained diffuser and the chrome dual exhaust tailpipes located on the left of the vehicle all continue the sporty theme. Last but by no means least comes the GTI lettering, which takes its proper place at the rear, in the radiator grille and on the wings of this Polo.
GTI colours. The new Polo GTI is available in a choice of seven colours – 'Pure White', 'Flash Red' and 'Black' monochrome finishes, the metallic 'Reflex Silver', 'Deep Black', and 'Blue Silk', plus the mother of pearl effect 'Oryx White'.
Interior design and features
Classic GTI. GTI red features in the sporty design of the interior, too. The leather sports steering wheel, adapted from the Golf GTI, has contrasting red stitching, as do the gear lever and handbrake lever; the floor mats also feature borders with red beading. Driver and passenger sit on height-adjustable heated sports seats with centre panels upholstered in exclusive 'Clark' cloth (the outer sections are in 'Black' and also have contrasting red stitching); sports seats with a check design have been a standard feature of this icon of high performance since the launch of the very first GTI in 1976. The front centre armrest with storage compartment, the instrument cluster with GTI design, black headliner and aluminium-look pedal caps complete the dynamic and exclusive interior ambience.
All aboard. The wide range of standard equipment also includes footwell lighting, a sound actuator, Driver Alert System, 'Plus' multifunction display, 'Composition Touch' infotainment system, front and rear ParkPilot, heated windscreen washer nozzles and a headlight cleaning system. And those are just a few highlights from the long list of standard features on board the new Polo GTI.
Progressive infotainment world. The Polo GTI's radio and radio-navigation systems have also been re-conceptualised; as second generation systems they reflect state-of-the-art technology in what is known as the modular infotainment system (MIB). Depending on the version, the systems offer functions such as Bluetooth audio streaming (with a smartphone, including cover display and touchscreen control), a proximity sensor (other menu details are shown when hand approaches the screen), two-finger map zooming in navigation mode (as on a smartphone) and connection of the smartphone to the exterior antenna via the wireless 'Comfort' mobile phone interface. DAB+ digital radio can be added to all four systems – 'Composition Touch' (standard with the Polo GTI), 'Composition Colour', 'Composition Media' and 'Discover Media'. In addition, special smartphone apps can be accessed on the touchscreen via MirrorLink™.
Turbocharged engine, manual and dual clutch gearboxes
1.8 TSI with 192 PS. The new Polo GTI is powered by a 141 kW / 192 PS four-cylinder EA88 engine. Engine displacement: 1.798 cm3. The difference in output between the GTI and the Polo with the next smallest output, the GT (at 110 kW / 150 PS), is 42 PS. The Polo GTI's 1.8 TSI delivers its maximum output between 4200 and 6200 rpm (6-speed manual); for the 7-speed DSG the range is from 5400 to 6200 rpm. These variations are due to technical differences in the design parameters of the gearboxes. The same applies to the torque values: the DSG variant delivers a maximum torque of 250 Nm between 1300 and 5400 rpm whereas the figures for the manual gearbox version are 320 Nm between 1400 and 4200 rpm. As shown, however, the differences in torque have no effect on the vehicle's performance figures (top speed and acceleration from 0–100 km/h). Having said that, the manual version does pull away slightly more briskly, while the DSG version's fuel consumption is even lower.
Variable valve timing. Whatever the transmission and associated maximum torque, the 1.8 TSI is a high-tech engine. One of the technical features of the charged direct petrol injection engine is the water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation to the turbocharger, which has been fully integrated into the cylinder head. This type of exhaust gas cooling makes a crucial contribution towards improving fuel consumption at full load. In addition, the TSI has variable valve timing with dual camshaft adjustment. In addition, valve lift on the exhaust side can be switched in two stages. This enables optimal control of the charge exchange process for better performance, fuel economy and lower emissions. The four-cylinder engine also features a dual injection system with direct and manifold injection. As with all the latest generation Polo, the GTI complies with the EU6 emission standard.
Suspension layout and brake system
McPherson at the front, torsion beam at the rear. The Polo GTI's sports suspension ensures exceptionally agile and secure handling. The technical basis for this comes from a set-up with a McPherson-type front axle and a torsion beam axle for the rear wheels. The chassis of the GTI is 10 mm lower at the front and 15 mm lower at the rear compared with the less powerful Polo models. The chassis engineers succeeded in reducing roll to a minimum in the exceptionally agile and responsive Polo GTI. One of the factors responsible for this is the stronger anti-roll bar on the front axle. Replacing the 7J with 7½J wide 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/40 tyres also contributed to the improved handling. The vehicle's handling is further refined through the addition of a new, highly accurate electromechanical steering system which is exceptionally responsive.
'Sport Select' suspension with 'Sport Performance Kit'. For the first time, Volkswagen is offering electronically adjustable dampers in the Polo GTI. These form the core technology basis of the new, optional 'Sport Select' suspension, which for the GTI is available in conjunction with the 'Sport Performance Kit'. The basic tuning of this suspension is already sporty, but more comfortable than a conventional sports suspension. When the driver presses the 'Sport' button (in the upper area of the centre console) this activates an electro-mechanical switching valve in the dampers which alters their tuning from this sporty yet comfort-oriented basic setting to the stiffer characteristic of a true sports suspension. The 'Sport Performance Kit' lends the new electromechanical power steering an even sportier characteristic. The same is true for the accelerator pedal response. At the same time, the engine noise heard inside the car also changes due to the sound actuator. And finally, if the Polo GTI is equipped with the 7-speed DSG, the transmission changes automatically from D to S mode.
Brakes. The Polo GTI is equipped with a stable 16-inch brake system. The front wheels have ventilated brake discs with a diameter of 310 mm, and at the back 230 mm discs are used. The red brake callipers are a characteristic feature of the GTI.
ESC Sport. Naturally the Polo GTI is equipped with ESC, the electronic stability control system, as standard and this can be adapted for use on the race track. It works like this: Pressing the ESC button once switches off traction control (ASR), whereas pressing the button for more than three seconds activates the ESC Sport system. This raises the ESC control threshold; delaying the intervention of ESC has particular advantages where handling on the race track is concerned. This therefore removes the need to fully deactivate the ESC. In the appropriate menu in the infotainment system, the driver has the option of directly selecting the ESC modes 'ASR off' and 'ESC Sport'. Other components of ESC are the anti-lock braking system (ABS), Hill Hold Assist, engine drag torque control (MSR), electronic differential lock (EDS) and the Polo's new vehicle dynamics function, XDS+. Combined with a chassis that is as neutral as it is sporty, and the new, precise electromechanical power steering, these electronic systems provide a high degree of active safety without compromising driving dynamics.