Volkswagen created a living legend with its GTI versions, and the new Polo makes certainly no exception. The Polo GTI sets again new standards in its segment : 180 healthy horses, coupled to a state-of-the art 7 speed DSG box, and all this put into the Polo platform, which is one of the (very) best in its class… a recipe for superlatives? You bet!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
(Not) only for the brave…
We drove this thoroughbred from Wolfsburg under very icy and snowy weather conditions, and we have to admit that the GTI proved itself an utterly driveable, smooth and safe compact hatch, which never put us in a situation. So much for that. But when the road is dry, oh boy, fasten your seatbelts.
Not that this GTI is a screaming high revver which bounces through corners and punches every pothole unfiltered into your spine. These times are long gone. Instead the engine burbles discreetly when you turn the key, and offers ample torque at very low revs when you drive smoothly away.
The comfortable seat hugs you nicely, you have ample space behind the beautifully finished and designed sports wheel. You have put the chromed gearchange lever into drive, and you leave it there.
The torque of the engine completely belies its modest size of 1,4 litres. The TSI engine is twincharged, meaning that it has a turbo- and a mechanical supercharger. The result is that its maximum torque of 250 Newton-metres is already there from 2,000 rpm and stays at a constantly high level up to 4,500 rpm. You understood it: power is just ALWAYS EVERYWHERE!
The gearchange computer of the DSG makes of course good use of these engine characteristics. In normal driving, it changes up very early, resulting in unbelievably good (city traffic) consumption figures. We reached an average consumption of around 6 litres per 100 km (!)
But then the brave get going…
When you floor the throttle, the Polo takes off: 0 to 80 km is an affair of merely 5,2 seconds, under the beautiful purposeful staccato of a free-revving 4 cylinder double overhead cam thoroughbred engine. The DSG changes gear at the redline like Tazio Nuvolari, and 100 km is reached in 6,9 seconds. It then catapults you further to a top speed of some 229 km/h…
You can also flick the lever of the DSG gearbox into “S” and a complete metamorphosis sets in: the gearbox will now stay in the lowest gear possible, and even when cruising at constant speeds, the box will keep the revs up to around 4000 rpm, so you are ALWAYS ready for the next power burst at the slightest hint of your right foot.
The sound and feline fury of the engine gets your adrenaline truly racing, and it is very difficult to respect any speed limits when you have the lever in this staccato “S” mode. So maybe within town limits, you are advised to flick te lever back to “D”, and reason soon returns…
Safety first… achieved with technical delicatessen
The car behaves very balanced throughout, under full power the chassis and suspension never feels stressed. The car has of course good dimensioned brakes and a ESP stabilisation programme, which comes standard.
Networked with this are numerous other electronic modules such as the anti-lock braking (ABS ), hill hold control, anti-slip regulation (ASR ), engine drag torque control (MSR) and electronic differential locks (EDS ).Tyre pressure is also sensed by the standard tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS). A modern extension of familiar EDS
functions is the XDS electronic transverse differential lock, like the one Volkswagen presented for the first time on the Golf GTI.
XDS improves handling through fast curves and calibrates the car to be more “neutral”, since it prevents slip of the unloaded wheel at the inside of the curve by active brake intervention, improving traction. This system, standard equipment on the Polo GTI, accesses existing sensor data such as steering wheel angle, yaw rate and wheel speeds. The effect: more safety and driving fun, as the Polo GTI steers with a precision as if on rails with XDS.
A wonderful engine
As we said, this little gem of an engine is technically very interesting: just look at the complementary operating modes of the supercharger and turbocharger.
The mechanically belt-driven supercharger boosts the TSI’s torque at low engine speeds. Its engine charging is based on the Roots Principle. The supercharger used here has also an internal gearing, which enables a high compressor power boost at low engine speeds.
At higher engine speeds, the turbocharger is also activated (with waste gate control).
The supercharger and turbocharger are arranged in series. The supercharger is actuated by a solenoid integrated in a module within the water pump.
A control door ensures that the proper amount of fresh air reaches the turbocharger or supercharger for any given operating point.
In “pure turbocharger” mode, the control door is open. The air then follows the familiar and conventional path for turbo engines: via the front intercooler and throttle valve to the inlet pipe.
From 3,500 rpm onwards, this turbocharger takes actually over all the work…
… and also a feast for the eye
The Polo GTI I also pleasing to look at, especially in the cabin. The steering wheel is wonderfully styled, and conveys together with the instruments and seat and interior trims this unmistakable “GTI” ambiance.
Just look at the photos… Externally, the Polo just looks the part with its alloy wheels in GTI-typical 5-hole “Denver ” style (7Jx17), and the new Polo GTI also stands out from the crowd with the two classic red trim stripes on its radiator grille.
From its role model – the larger Golf GTI – it has adopted the honeycomb structure of the air intakes in the uniquely styled front apron. Also GTI-specific are the fender flares and the rear spoiler painted in body colour.
So if you want a car which gives unique driving pleasure, safety and inspires with solidity and workmanship, then this Polo could be very much your first choice…
Hans Knol ten Bensel