Volkswagen Polo GTI (2014-2017) review
The Volkswagen Polo GTI can be considered a junior Golf GTI because it shares the things that make the Golf a highly recommendable performance hatch – everyday usability, a practical interior, excellent build quality and impressive performance. The Polo faces some tough competition in the form of the fun-to-drive Ford Fiesta ST, trendy Mini Cooper S and chic Citroen DS3.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volkswagen Polo GTI (2014-2017)
The VW Polo GTI wins many admirers for its interior – it is built from good-quality materials and has little touches such as tartan-fabric seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel that separate it from lesser models. In terms of room there is plenty for both driver and passengers with only headroom being limited in the back.
When it comes to driving the Polo GTI is praised by reviewers for being stable and easy to manage. VW hasen’t forgotten about comfort and the Polo GTI is equally capable devouring twisty roads as it is cruising quietly on the motorway.
The Polo GTI’s engine is a big improvement over the old unit – its increased capacity (up from 1.4 to 1.8-litres) provides more torque and making it one of the quickest cars from 0-62mph in its class – taking just 6.7 seconds. The optional seven-speed DSG gearbox offers smooth and quick changes, with well-chosen gear ratios that keep the engine on the boil. It’s worth considering if you often drive in stop-start town traffic.
The Polo feels like a junior Golf GTI
Compared to competitors, the Polo GTI is as a bit expensive, but when you factor in the great build quality it arguably justifies its high price. Read on to find out more about the VW Polo and if it’s the car for you.
If this sounds like the car for you, then read our Volkswagen Polo GTI colours and dimensions guides to get all the facts and figures at your fingertips.
Many driving enthusiasts will be more tempted by the latest version of the Polo GTI, thanks to the subtle boost in power and the addition of the six speed manual gearbox.
Overall, the Polo GTI is a very rounded and likeable hot hatch. The interior quality is top notch, refinement is commendable, it’s fun to drive and the performance is more than adequate. However, it isn’t the last word in driver excitement and involvement and nor is it particularly thrilling to look at – inside or out. It is certainly very expensive for a Polo, even if it is a very talented and capable one.
Like the larger Golf, the Polo GTI is a commendable hot hatch, praised for its ability to cover ground quickly and effectively.
The Polo GTI delivers strong, efficient performance and even a little character
Two major changes took place with the Polo GTI in 2015: Gone is the 1.4-litre TSI petrol with a turbo and a supercharger – it’s been replaced with a new 1.8-litre turbo.
The new engine produces 190hp – 11hp more than before – and a generous heap more torque. At least in the manual – the torque is limited in the DSG auto to prolong the life of the unit. This endows the GTI with a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 147mph. That makes it 0.2 seconds and 10mph faster than the Fiesta – though other rivals are quicker.
Transmission options have been expanded with the addition of a six-speed manual gearbox. The now optional seven-speed DSG gearbox remains as excellent as it is in other Volkswagen Group products, with smooth and seamless gear changes.
Meanwhile a new-for-2015 electric differential borrowed from the Golf has endowed the Polo with a chassis which does a highly impressive job of resisting understeer. It also manages to keep passengers contained in refinement and relative comfort, though it has to be said that a few testers also weren’t fond on the slightly firm ride over rough roads.
More of a concern is that the GTI isn’t as fun to drive as more extreme rivals such as the Renault Clio Cup and the Ford Fiesta ST. This is compounded by the fact that the electronic stability systems can never be fully switched off.
As expected from a Volkswagen, the interior is among the car’s main highlights, with high-quality materials giving the GTI a solid, premium feel. There are more soft, squidgy plastics than you’ll find in most of the Polo’s rivals and all the controls have oily-smooth actions that make them feel expensive.