Archive | Our cars: 2001 Polo GTI

12 December 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report eight

With the rattles banished to the bin, Rich Gooding gets on with the job of enjoying his 2001 Polo GTI, whatever the weather

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

I was wrong. One of the rattles that I commented on last report month did turn out to be a wobbly exhaust, One of the hangers attached to the system had rotted off, so a small welding job was all that was needed to suffice and the frustratingly annoying rattle has now gone. The other bothersome noise which I thought was a rear wheel bearing, turned out to be just that. While Y464 GHJ was in the ever dependable Sani’s Motors once again, the offending bearing was replaced, too. So now, the cabin is an oasis of calm once more.

The recent cold weather has thrown up a couple of interesting observations. Depending on temperature, the digital trip display under the total milage resets itself back to ‘0.0’, trying its best to undo any fuel consumption records I may be trying to keep. It’s a good job the software I use works out the distance travelled since the last fill up for you. There’s no logic to it either – at -6 there was nary a digital flicker, but at -2, there it was. Strange.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The cold snap has also not been good for the heated washer jets. As in they don’t seem to work. Twice I’ve had to get out of the car halfway to work and pour water on the windscreen to clear it – if I don’t, by the time I’ve finished my 25-mile commute, the screen is almost opaque with wintry road spray. And this morning, I’m sure something at the back end was frozen on, as there was creaking noise emanating from the rear end, sounding similar to a handbrake being on. Otherwise, it’s cosseting and refined fun, fun, fun all the way.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

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12 November 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report seven

Rich Gooding’s 2001 Polo GTI has had an eventful couple of months. First, new boots and a health check, then a change in regular usage. Are the now noticeable rattles a sign of protest?

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

Life for Y464 GHJ has just got calmer, or tougher, depending on how you look at it. I’ve just taken a new magazine designer full-time job, and, if you’re a glass half-empty person, you’d say that the more regular use the car will get is a bad thing. But, if you’re a glass half-full kind of being, then the fewer miles it will do on more regular trips will be a good thing. I’d like to think that I’m the latter, but the more regular use does worry ever so slightly. Still, the miles will be much fewer each day: 50 daily miles in total to my new office, compared to 170 miles per day when I was heading to Bauer Media in Peterborough.

So, as you can see from the pictures, the new daily, five-times-a-week commute will probably mean me spending more intimate time with Messrs Bucket, Sponge and Shampoo. And I have noticed, the Polo takes a lot more scrubbing when it’s dirty, even if it doesn’t look that dirty. One thing I will have to look for in the near future is rattles. Y464 seems to have become infested with the things, coming from the nearside front air vent, the dashboard, and, most annoyingly, the passenger seat area. It’s this last one which is the most frustrating, because, a) I can’t see where it’s coming from, and b) it’s quite a loud plastic-on-another-material-type noise. And honestly, it’s really quite literally driving me nuts.

I thought it may have been down the two new tyres I’ve had fitted in the intervening two months since the last report (the old fronts were shifted to the rear). But, no, I don’t think it’s that simple. They’ve had time to bed in a little now in any case. While the wheels were off and the tyres removed, I had the one wheel which was kerbed refurbished, so once again, I have a ‘clean’ set with no damage. Let’s hope it stays that way. Otherwise, nothing else to report. The gearbox is the least enjoyable part of the car, as sometimes it’s just downright reluctant to do what you want it to, which suggests a bush kit, or something maybe a little more major. Like I said, glass half-empty, or glass half-full…

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

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12 September 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report six

Twelve months has now passed since Rich Gooding unexpectedly bought his 2001 Polo GTI. 10,000 miles have now passed under its wheels – how does it compare to his previous, cosseted and much-loved 1993 Polo GT?

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ couldn’t be more apt when it comes to the speed at which the 12 months that sum up my first year of Polo GTI ownership has gone by. Bought in a rare moment of madness (or maybe clear thinking) on 12 September 2011, I had my doubts as to whether it could drive in the tyre tracks of my 167,000-mile 1993 Polo GT coupé, which, at the time, I had owned for the previous 12 years. While not always faithful, the GT had almost become part of me, and we’d definitely had some fun adventures. But, it was getting unreliable, and the lure of stepping onto the first step of GTI ownership ladder proved too much to resist.

Surprised at how cheap fully-loaded early Polo GTIs are (prices start from around £1000 for a well-worn car), I found Y464 GHJ on eBay, and as it was up the road in Colchester, I thought I’d take a look. Not the most perfect example, but with only 67,000 original miles, an OK interior and mark-free BBS wheels, a deal was done. Incidentally, I wanted a car that had the standard red fabric interior, as opposed to the optional black leather, which, surprisingly, a lot of owners seemed to specify. The 2000-2002 Polo GTI is a bit of an anomaly – different badge, seat belt and interior door card colour combinations mean there are a surprising number of variations between the 3393 cars imported.

Unsurprisingly, the GTI is a much better car than the GT. Based on the award-winning Mk 3 Polo from 1994, the 2000-2002 Polo is a completely different beast from the rather agricultural Mk 2/2F, which can trace its roots back to the Mk 1 from 1975. That it was going to be more refined was a natural given, but it still surprises me. Y464 does my sometime 160-mile round commute to Bauer Media’s offices in Peterborough very well, soothing on the motorway, yet fun enough when the going isn’t quite so, literally, straightforward. I’ve said before, the Polo GTI has never been at the forefront of incisive hot hatch dynamics, but I reckon for 90 per cent of owners, it’s fine.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

I’m surprised by the economy, too. A 125bhp 1.6-litre engine in a 1084kg body lends itself to unsurprisingly brisk performance, but an average of 40mpg (close to VW’s official figure) is regularly achievable. Of course, a lot of that defends on the types of roads encountered, but regular motorway schleps certainly help. The most recent lowest recorded figure of 36mpg shows what can be expected around town. And while a CO2 figure of 173g/km isn’t the lowest, £195.00 a year in road tax doesn’t seem too penalising. All this comes with a 0-60mph time of 8.4 seconds, a top speed of 127mph and 112lb ft of torque.

What’s gone wrong? Not a lot. I treated the car to some cosmetic goodies when it first arrived (new alloy wheel centres, red grille trim – now removed, new aerial base seal and mast, as well as a new grille badge), and my unsavoury kerbed wheel damage notwithstanding, only a water temperature sensor and driver’s door electric window regulator and motor has needed replacing. Because of their high prices, those two parts alone helped bring up recent 76,000-mile service cost to a not inconsiderable £537.03 (also included was an oil change, filters and spark plugs). But they’re maladies that will hopefully not need sorting again, and bearing in mind the sterling service the GTI is currently giving, it seems fair to hand over some readies in exchange for some TLC. Yes, the two rear tyres will need replacing before the year is out (when I’ll get the other kerbed wheel repaired), but they’re regularly worn out consumables.

You can probably guess the answer to the question I posed at the start of this post. Yes, the GTI is better than the GT. Emphatically so. Especially for the kind of driving I’m doing now. Refined, swift, practical, and comfortable to boot, it really is a jack-of-all-trades (a cliché but it’s true), traits that the GTI badge has stood for over the past 36 years. If you desire a dose of refinement with your budget hot hatch, hunt out an early example of a Polo GTI. With low-mileage examples still around £1000-£2000 cheaper than the identically powered but smaller Lupo GTI, believe me when I say it’s a lot of car for the money.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

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13 August 2012 ~ 6 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report five

Y464 GHJ has seen almost a full calendar year in Rich Gooding’s ownership. Before he celebrates their first anniversary together, he reports on what’s happened to the car in the past three months

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

It’s been a busy month for the GTI, not least as it’s been pressed into almost daily service again. I reported last time that I’d been using the car for commuting to a new place of work, which soon ended. Well, the situation has repeated itself, with me taking regular trips to carry out some freelance sub-editing and magazine layout for Bauer Media in Peterborough. The international publisher has titles such as CAR, Classic Cars, Classic Car Weekly, Land Rover Owner International, Parkers and Practical Classics on its roster, so when I’m needed it’s a 175-mile round trip, sometimes four times a week. Which is more than enough miles to get to know a car quite intimately.

While a sometime source of frustration, motorways see the Polo settle into a comfortable and soothing rhythm, its blend of high-specification and sporting élan coming into its own. It’s improved the fuel economy, too, with two recent readings of 41 and 44mpg recorded. I never thought I’d see that! When I do get bored of monotonous stretches of straight tarmac, winding B-roads are handled vigorously by the small Volkswagen, and if not the last word in sporting finesse and pedigree, it puts up a valiant effort. The steering is nicely weighted, and while there’s more body roll than you might expect at times, it’s easily controllable.

Spending more time in the car has allowed me to notice a couple of things. Firstly, the rear window gets dirtier under the rear spoiler than anywhere else on the glass (the water also drops off rearwards from the roof at a heavy rate), and the standard speakers really do produce a great sound, pumping music from my iPod via the cassette deck adapter. The boot light has also – typically – started working again, after my lambasting of it in my last report. In other news, I’ve removed the red grille trim already, as it was more pink than red due to excessive fading, and after having had both a new Polo BlueMotion and Up from the Volkswagen UK press office, the GTI has shared the drive with newer relatives.

With moving house and the new ‘commute’, the Polo’s had a lot to put up with, and I’ve not helped the situation. Two wheel rims on those gorgeous alloys have been kerbed, at opposite diagonal corners, and I reversed into another car on the driveway of the new house, taking the paint off the offside rear bumper corner. While deeply frustrating, there are worse things to worry about, and the first wheel has been painted and repaired. While the car was in the ever-dependable Sani’s Motors in Chelmsford, the slight chips in the wheel boltholes were touched in (making the second wheel kerning incident even more annoying). The second wheel is yet to be taken in, and will be looked at properly when the car has its impending – and soon overdue – 76,000-mile service.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI: log book

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16 May 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report four

Bought eight months ago, how is Rich Gooding’s 10 year-old Polo GTI adjusting to daily life once again? It’s not all been plain sailing…

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

The largest development in the ownership of Y464 GHJ came back in January. As reported last time, I took a job at a local design agency which put the car back in daily use, a somewhat alien concept to it. It was used sporadically after I bought it back in September, but had sat for at least four months before coming home with me. Sadly, that spell has now ended and I’m back to freelance work, which sees the car getting less use. Sad news for me, but happy news for the car, as the mileage is currently being kept down. And it also means that I enjoy it more when I do drive it, a positive upside.

On the whole, there’s been no major negatives to report over the three-month period that the car was in regular use. Every day it provided reliable transport, with a added sporty spring in its step, and, as reported last time, it can do the sporty thing and the calming thing in equal measure. I’ve been reading some old road tests of the car, and found out that only 4 per cent of Polo sales in 2001 were of the GTI, and in total, from the summer of 2000 when it was introduced to the start of 2002, only 3393 examples found their way onto UK roads. Well-equipped now, let alone back then, it should have sold more, but was up against fierce competition in the form of the Peugeot 106 and 206 GTIs, and the Citroën Saxo VTS.

The early-2000s Polo GTI deserved to be bought in bigger numbers on looks alone. I’ve said it before, but it is a good-looking car. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. A little. I’ve added red edging trim to the grille surround (sometimes referred to as ‘lipstick’), to bring the car in line with Volkswagen GTIs from 2004-2009, and think it looks a lot more ‘GTI’ than without, the red trim picking up the red ‘I’ on the front grille ‘GTI’ badge. I’ve yet to replace the rear ‘GTI’ badge with the new one I have sitting in storage, but with the weather the way it has been over the past month or so, there’s been neither rarely a dry day, or a warm one for me to even contemplate easing the old badge off. And, with Volkswagen events being cancelled left, right, and centre due to sodden venues, the car’s not had much chance to be shown off anyway. Let’s hope that soon changes.

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

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