The Volkswagen Polo GTI comes with plenty of sporty details to help it stand out against the standard Polo, but a few brittle plastics let the side down slightly
The VW Polo GTI takes the standard Polo’s solid, sensible interior and adds plenty of eye-catching sporty features. You get a leather-trimmed steering wheel with GTI badging alongside a pair of very supportive (and very tartan) front seats with bright red contrast stitching.
Alloy pedals come as standard, too, and the Polo GTI’s dashboard comes covered in soft, squidgy plastic instead of the hard, brittle trim you’ll find in some small hot hatches. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the doors which – unlike in the larger VW Golf GTI – come with a brittle finish that’s at odds with the rest of the VW Polo GTI’s upmarket cabin.
You can’t personalise the VW Polo GTI’s interior quite as much as the standard Polo’s – it isn’t available with bright orange dashboard inserts, for example – but you do get a large touchscreen infotainment system as standard. GTI+ versions top this with a widescreen digital driver’s display that looks more like it belongs in a flashy Audi executive car than a boisterous VW hot hatch.
The VW Polo GTI’s digital driver’s display looks far more futuristic than anything you get in other small hot hatches, but it only comes as standard in more expensive GTI+ models
All VW Polo GTIs come with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display that looks and feels more upmarket than what you get in the Ford Fiesta ST. The screen is very bright and easy to read, but (like the Fiesta ST) it doesn’t come with any physical shortcut buttons. As a result, it’s not particularly easy to switch between key features when you’re driving.
You don’t get sat nav as standard – it’s a rather expensive option – but you can use the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring to beam your phone’s navigation apps onto the VW Polo GTI’s screen instead. These features also let you play music from streaming services such as Spotify through the Polo’s stereo.
On the subject of stereos, you can upgrade the standard system to a more powerful 300W Beats unit, but it’s still not a patch on the excellent B&O stereo you can get in the Ford Fiesta ST.
Another upgrade worth considering is the digital driver’s display you get in GTI+ models. This replaces conventional analogue dials with a 10.5-inch widescreen that can display a combination of instrument graphics and sat-nav directions, right in your eye line. It’s a doddle to cycle through the various display options using buttons on the steering wheel, but the system can’t display a map on both the central infotainment screen and driver’s display at the same time.