It’s official. On the eve of the 2014 Paris Autosalon (and ahead of its VW Group Night preview unveiling), Volkswagen has released details of the hottest Polo to date: the 2015 Polo GTI. As widely reported, the new car has 189bhp (192PS), can get to 62mph from rest in 6.7 seconds, has a top speed of 146mph (236km/h), and, joy of joys, has a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – a seven-speed DSG is an option.
1.8 litres, 189bhp, 236lb ft
The pre-refresh Polo 6R GTI had 178bhp from its 1.4-litre TSI engine. The new car ups that by 11bhp and is powered by a new 1.8-litre turbocharged unit, which has also seen service in the Audi A3. The new engine develops 236lb ft (320Nm) of torque – an increase of around 30 per cent compared to the now discontinued 1.4.
Performance of the new Polo GTI is close to that of the limited edition Polo R WRC road car, which has a 2.0-litre TSI engine and 217bhp. The 2015 Polo GTI is only 0.3 seconds slower to 62mph and only 4mph down on top speed. The new GTI is relatively clean, too – the manual emits the same CO2 figure as before – 139g/km – while the DSG is better still, rated at only 129g/km.
The new Polo GTI is 10mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the rear than other Polos, and Volkswagen states it is ‘exceptionally agile’. Volkswagen has traditionally curtailed the Polo GTI’s agility a little in favour of the Golf GTI, so it will be interesting to see if this is still the case. Steering is by an electromechanical power-assisted rack, and electronically adjustable dampers are available for the first time.
‘Sport Select’ suspension
The ‘Sport Select’ suspension with ‘Sport Performance Kit’ allows for more performance-focused handling when the ‘Sport’ button is depressed. An electro-mechanical switching valve in the dampers alters their tuning from a sports yet comfort-oriented basic setting to ‘the stiffer characteristic of a sports suspension’ according to VW.
The ‘Sport Performance Kit’ is said to give both the new electromechanical power steering and the accelerator pedal response an even sportier feel. At the same time, the engine noise heard inside the car also changes as the sound actuator does its work. And if the Polo GTI is equipped with the seven-speed DSG gearbox, the transmission changes automatically from D to S mode.
Of course, a GTI isn’t a GTI without some external cues. And they are all present and correct on the new hot shot Polo. The refreshed Polo 6R’s headlight and tail lamps are fitted, along with a unique mesh-filled front bumper, honeycomb front grille with lower red trim strip (which extends into the headlamps like the on the Golf GTI) and ‘GTI’ badge, and front fog lights.
The rear of the car gets an extended rear spoiler with gloss black lip, a rear diffuser, twin exhausts, and ‘GTI’ badging. The finishing touches are ‘GTI’ side insignia on the front wings, red brake calipers, and a new design of 7.5J x 17-inch alloy wheel, which echoes that of the Golf GTI. The Polo GTI is the first Polo to come with LED headlamps as an option, as well as LED daytime running lights. Seven paint colours are available, including the traditional GTI shades of black, red, silver and white.
Inside, the new Volkswagen GTI family member also has, unsurprisingly, echoes of the Golf GTI, while all the latest infotainment upgrades from the new Polo range are present and correct. The sporty Polo adds a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with contrasting red stitching, aluminium pedals, gloss back trim inserts, ‘Clark’ tartan cloth, heated sports seats, black headlining, and a sound actuator, to highlight the more sports-orientated engine noise of the new model.
Kit count is high and includes footwell lighting, Driver Alert System, ‘Plus’ multifunction display, ‘Composition Touch’ infotainment system, front and rear ParkPilot, heated windscreen washer nozzles and a headlight cleaning system.
Performance Polo history
The history of the performance Polo could be described as patchy. The limited-production run 115bhp supercharged G40 arrived in 1985 (becoming a mainstay in the range with the Mk 2 Polo’s facelift in 1990), while a 120bhp 3,000 unit Polo GTI special model was introduced in 1998. Just as with the G40, the first full production run 125bhp Polo GTI was ushered in with the arrival of the Mk 3 Polo facelift in 1999.
The Mk 4 Polo GTI had 148bhp from its 1.8-litre turbocharged engine and was launched in 2006, with the outgoing Mk 5 Polo GTI hitting the roads in 2010 with 178bhp from its 1.4 unit. This car only had the DSG option, so bringing the manual gearbox back is an encouraging move by Volkswagen – the lack of a self-shifter must have harmed sales a little.
Pricing details are still elusive, but the Polo GTI is available for advance order in Germany later this month, with a European launch slated for February 2015. The car will have its world debut at the Paris Autosalon this month, which runs from 4 to 19 October 2014. We can’t wait to drive this latest GTI-badged firecracker and have to ask if if will finally propel the Polo to the performance hatchback big league?
2015 VOLKSWAGEN POLO GTI –
Displacement (cc) 1798
Power output 189bhp (192PS)
Maximum torque 236lb ft / 320Nm @ 1400-4200rpm (manual); 184lb ft / 250Nm @ 1300-5400rpm (DSG)
Top speed (mph) 146
0-62mph (seconds) 6.7
Front suspension MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear suspension Torsion beam, trailing arms, coil springs
Steering Electromechnical power-assisted rack
Brakes 310mm discs (front), 230mm discs (rear), ABS, ASR traction control, ESC, XDS+
Wheels 7.5J x 17 alloy
Tyres 215/40 R17