WOLFSBURG - In April this year, we watched the virtual unveiling of the forthcoming facelifted sixth generation Volkswagen Polo. Now comes its sportiest version: the new Polo GTI. According to VW, the car’s powerful TSI engine and sports chassis, tailored specifically to the Polo GTI, transform the best-selling compact car into a dynamic, four-door sports car, which also allows semi-automated driving as an option for the first time. They add that a host of the company’s latest generation of assistance systems guarantee even greater comfort and safety for all passengers.
A quick walk down memory lane
For most petrolheads, there are three letters that have had a magic sound to them for approaching five decades now: GTI. Since the original GTI in 1976, Volkswagen has ensured that this code is synonymous with outstanding driving pleasure in the compact segment. The Polo has borne the acronym GTI since 1998 – the third model to do so, after the Golf and the Scirocco. The latest generation seamlessly continues the illustrious GTI tradition and sets new benchmarks for compact cars, according to VW. The technical basis for this is provided by Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Platform (MQB). Across all the model lines, VW says MQB stands for technological progress, high body rigidity, an exemplary low weight, and sound crash properties.
A new world of technology for Polo
IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist, used for the first time in a Polo GTI, enables semi-automated driving in models shown overseas. The system can take over the steering, braking and accelerating of the new Polo GTI from 0km/h to the control limit of Travel Assist (210 km/h). For longitudinal guidance, IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist calls upon familiar systems like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Latitudinal guidance is supported by Lane Assist, which comes as standard. The driver can activate the system via the Travel Assist button in the redesigned, multifunctional, leather sports steering wheel. The driver’s hands must remain on the steering wheel whilst using this system, meaning the driver is always responsible for the car’s actions.
Many new infotainment systems (the latest generation of MIB3.1), which are connected to various services online, ensure state-of-the-art connectivity in the new Polo GTI in some markets. An Online Connectivity Unit (OCU) with integrated eSIM makes it possible to use online services from We Connect (prepared for a limited time) and We Connect Plus (prepared for free use in Europe for one or three years). Features like natural voice control, access to streaming services and a cloud-based personalisation using “Volkswagen ID” enhance the latest MIB3.1 system, depending on the equipment line. The integration of such apps as App-Connect Wireless for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now wireless. The GTI’s Digital Cockpit Pro impresses with a higher pixel density, an improved contrast ratio and intense colours, as well as its sheer size – the screen measures 26 centimetres diagonally.
Still built for the drivers out there
The heart of a GTI is, arguably, always its engine. Like all its predecessors, the new Polo GTI is also front-wheel drive. The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine sends power to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG), which comes as standard. Among the highlights of the turbo engine in the new Polo GTI, which is installed transversely at the front of the car, are features like as a dual injection system with combined direct and intake-manifold fuel injection, an engine control unit with four core processors, and an electronic valve-lift system on the inlet side. Despite the high output, the engine is allegedly impressively efficient with moderate fuel consumption levels. This is aided by the low weight of the new Polo GTI. It makes a claimed 152kW and 320Nm and as you would expect from a Volkswagen GTI, the new Polo GTI also comes with a sports chassis, tailored specially to the car, as standard. It lowers the vehicle by 15mm compared to the standard car.
The new Polo GTI now also comes as standard with the new IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights and an illuminated radiator grille bar as a distinctive enhancement to the daytime running light. This sees the sporty new Polo form a stylistic bridge to Volkswagen’s fully-electric ID. models and the new generation of successful models like the Golf and Tiguan, which also come with this striking LED light strip, which is typical of new Volkswagens, as an option or depending on the equipment line in some markets.
The most striking visual change to the rear of the new Polo GTI is the newly-designed LED rear lights with animated brake light and integrated dynamic indicators, which indicate a change in direction with flowing light movements. The new, GTI-specific bumper gives the compact sports car an even more commanding and broader visual presence on the roads. The Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), which is integrated in the side of the bumper and controlled via the main headlights, has been redesigned and now gives an even more concise lighting effect. In combination with the IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights, it provides a brighter illumination of the road and surroundings. The striking red GTI logo on the radiator grille, the honeycomb-shaped ventilation grilles, and the continuous red trim strip above the LED daytime running light strip remain the characteristic GTI insignia at the sharper front of the car. To the right and left, it flows into the IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights with red winglets.
The new Polo GTI is available in five colours: Deep Black Pearl Effect, Smoke Grey Metallic, Kings Red Metallic, Pure White Uni, and Reef Blue Metallic. The latter three colours can be combined with a contrasting black roof as an option (Roof Pack). The car comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, but can also be ordered with optional 18-inch alloys. On the interior, black, red, grey and chrome are the dominant colours.
The roof pillars and roof liner are always retained in the Titanium Black trim colour, which is typical of the GTI. Red contrast stitching is also always a typical characteristic of a GTI. It adorns the multifunctional, leather sports steering wheel, which comes as standard, the gear lever trim and the seat surfaces. The optional “beats” sound system, with 300 watts and six speakers, should make for a captivating acoustic experience too. The amplifier is located under the floor in the variable cargo area to save space. The luggage capacity of the new Polo GTI is 351 litres.
Volkswagen South Africa will release exact local specification and pricing of the facelifted sixth-gen Polo and Polo GTI closer to the time of local launch next year. The Polo will still be produced in South Africa for our market and exports markets for the foreseeable future.