Where does the Polo GTI fit in the world of competitive hot hatches? A modern day hot hatch is practically a scaled down performance car with all the essentials of a family commuter. The latest Polo GTI excels in almost all the attributes one could ask for in a compact superhatch. The latest 2011 Polo GTI can pretty much be summed up as "Honey I Shrunk the Golf GTI".
Inside the Small GTI
Knowing where the Polo stand in the VW Family, one should expect the Polo GTI to be small. It is almost like the New MINI but with less bulk and gimmick in its surrounding panels providing a sense of space.
But you're still going to elbow touch your passenger now and then. Minimalistic is a good thing sometimes, but the Polo GTI may just a little too bare for critics.
Though the shiny GTI bits do make up for what's lacking. It is also a vast improvement when compared to it's 1.8T predecessor. You also get a panoramic sunroof.
Outside the Small GTI
It's a bittersweet one, this. The Polo GTI has the aggressive good looks of its bigger Golf brother. Bi-Xenon headlights fashioned with Daytime running lights, subtle red stripes on its hexagonal grille - a GTI feature, and large 17" Detroit wheels.
However, the Polo is inherently lower in hierarchy to the Golf and this is immediately apparent when you approach the rear. You get the LED rear clusters which is a cool thing, the GTI rear tailpipes and badge draws attention away from its petite, awkward rear-end.
For the First time, VW Malaysia now offers both the 5-door and 3-door variants, with the 3-door being about RM3000 cheaper than the RM135,888.00 5-door. In terms of looks, The 3-door is aesthetically sportier but it sure doesn't leave the 5-door crying for attention. In fact they're both equally desirable and some may even agree that the 5-door prove to be more proportionately correct than the 3-door.
Driving the small GTI
Now this is where every flaw one could find in the Polo GTI is forgotten. There is no car I can think of in this class that could perform or is loaded like the Polo GTI. 7-speed DSG, 180bhp twin charged 4-cylinder, Electronic LSD, great factory brakes, and all in a small package. a package that weighs just over 1,200kgs. It just doesn't get anymore sinful than this.
Driving it in Sepang only allows you to exploit its capabilities to the limits. Most would think a 1.4L shopping cart in an F1 circuit would be an exhaustive effort but it is not the case for the Polo GTI. Surprisingly, it is as if not more enjoyable to drive than a Golf GTI on a track day. With a perky low-end and handful mid-range injected by the twin-chargers, the Polo GTI just can't wait to go. It has 90% Golf GTI power in a smaller chassis so it is nice and punchy.
The DSG box is quick and faultless. Sprinting off the line is a classic VW GTI feel with the iconic sputter at every change that is more apparent than in say, a Scirocco or Golf 1.4 TSI, this could be from the easier breathing GTI exhaust. For spritied driving, it is simply a must to operate in manual mode to take full advantage of the car, at least during downshifting. Upshifting is naturally taken care of in S-mode.
Stopping the baby GTI at speed, is full of feel especially when downshifting is instructed by hand. One can hardly complain about its brakes, though it may squirm a little under heavy usage. But good brakes otherwise. It will not downshift fast enough in auto so the untrained may receive the scare of their life when late-braking.
The XDS is essentially an Electronic LSD and is a fantastic feature. It should be made compulsory on all future hot-hatches. The Golf GTI has it and it truly changes the way an FF car carve corners. It allows for maximum amount of throttle input in any sharp turn while eliminating wheelspin. XDS detects and processes difference in wheel rotational speed from ABS sensors and apply brakes to the individual wheel resulting in zero wheelspin. So no more understeer for heavy footed drivers. You can mash the throttle in, the revs will climb but somehow the car remains composed and follows through without drama. Totally unreal.
Having just driven the Polo GTI on the circuit for a couple of laps was enough to determine the baby GTI means business. It is a GTI to be respected and not something cute and cuddly with a gimmicky GTI badge slapped on and big wheels. It is not to be compared to the Golf GTI but somehow it drives like a Golf GTI that has yet to reach puberty. I love everything about the Polo GTI and can ignore its physical flaws but its size is something to be thought about. If you're in the market for a small car that will slay almost anything in the city, this is for you. We're waiting for a second, longer duration test drive that will see it perform in real-life scenarios, and especially up in the hills. So fingers crossed.
source: zerotohundred by TOM