Several important changes have been made for the 2015 model, but what exactly is new?
The styling changes are certainly subtle but, if you squint hard enough, they are certainly there. A new front grille is no longer surrounded by a red strip, instead a single red line runs along the base, and continues into the new LED headlamp units, which offer a brighter beam for night time driving.
The bumper has been subtly redesigned too, with a body-coloured frame separating the main intake from the fog lights to the sides. Give yourself a pat on the back if you noticed that the GTI badge on the front grille has been repositioned about an inch lower than before.
A new twin-five-spoke alloy wheel design replaces the previous chunky wheels inspired by the bigger Golf GTI while, at the rear, the bumper has been subtly tweaked.
The changes to the cabin are equally as subtle – the updated steering wheel looks similar, but a little chunkier than before, while elsewhere one or two more lively flashes of red trim (particularly in the weave of the tartan seat fabric) aim to lift the cabin.
Perhaps the most obvious change inside – to some Polo GTIs at least – is the new manual gear lever with an ‘H’ pattern inscribed on the top – the pre-facelift car was only available with a DSG gearbox.
Volkswagen now gives you the option of a six-speed manual gearbox for the Polo GTI. This isn’t the only change under the bonnet either – the old 1.4-litre turbo-and-supercharged engine has been replaced by a larger, less-stressed 1.8-litre turbo unit. The old 1.4 was known for using oil at an impressive rate – those left unchecked could end up damaged from a lack of lubrication. The new engine should solve this problem.
With the larger engine comes not only a 12hp boost in power to 189hp, but a noticeable increase in torque – that is, as long as you choose the manual. The seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox is only capable of handling 184lb ft – the same as the previous 1.4 GTI – but the manual gearbox is a little tougher. As a result, it serves up a peak torque figure of 236lb ft, which should give it extra overtaking flexibility.
Performance and economy
As you’d hope from a more powerful car, performance has improved, if only marginally. The 0-62mph time has dropped from 6.9 to 6.7 seconds, while top speed has improved by 4mph to 146mph.
A similar improvement in fuel economy is also welcome. Equipped with the DSG gearbox, the claimed consumption has jumped from 48mpg to 50.4, while the manual almost matches that of the old automatic at 47.1mpg.
Settings to the chassis remain largely the same as before, but software adjustments to the stability control system aim to provide a more enjoyable experience if you ever decide to venture onto a track. It’s possible to switch to a less nannying mode, which disengages the traction control completely and allows much more slip before the stability control cuts in to rescue you.
The obvious rival is the Ford Fiesta ST, which can hardly move for all the brilliant reviews it’s been given. You could also look at the Renaulsport Clio 200 if you’re after an automatic hot hatch or a Peugeot 208 GTi if you want something more rounded.