Archive | Our cars: 2001 Polo GTI

13 February 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report three

Five months in, how is Rich Gooding adjusting to life with his 10 year-old Polo GTI? The first mileage milestone has passed, and the car has recently been pressed into daily service…

In my last report, I hinted that there could be some seasonal goodies on the way for Y464 GHJ, and as I was clearly a good boy, the festive period heralded new front and rear badges (the old badges’ red ‘I’s had been painted with nail polish due to fading), new locking wheel bolts, new plastic wheel bolt covers, and a full complement of 1980s-tastic black, red-trimmed carpet mats. Very GTI. The locking wheel bolts have been fitted (annoyingly taking some paint off the wheels on the outside edge of the bolt holes due to the old ones being rung), as has the front badge and the carpet mats. I’ll very carefully apply the rear badge when it’s a little warmer. New numberplates in Volkswagen factory holders tidy up the outside, too.

First ten thousand-milestone passed, and I’m still enjoying spending time with Y464. Since the last report in December, I’ve taken a job at a local design agency, which means that the car now gets driven almost daily, covering just under 40 miles on a return trip. It’s the perfect commuting distance – just enough to make it manageable, and not take too much of a toll on the car. Along minor A-roads with some corners which could quite easily catch you unawares, Y464 is proving an able, comfortable, and relaxing travelling companion, and a 70,000-mile reading has just rolled over (or whatever the digital equivalent is) on the odometer.

Some would say that comfortable and relaxing is not what a hot hatch should be about. And they’d be right of course. But, the car can also do the sporting thing, too. It picks up pace quickly – the engine note growling as the revs are increased – and is a tidy handler through the tight corners which make up my cross-country route from Essex to the border of east Hertfordshire. Though not as engaging as modern machinery (or some old machinery for that matter), a 2001 Polo GTI is engaging enough. For this driver anyway. Saying that, I can see why contemporary reviews stated that the GTI was more of a faster Polo and not a GTI.

Daily use is also now revealing some impressions of what it’s like to live with, too. The recent cold spell of weather has seen the air-conditoning come into its own, and after years of living with a car with just a three-speed fan (I dug out my 1994 168,000-mile Polo GT coupé recently to take some potential sales photos, above), it’s a revelation. Shame that the usual faultless Volkswagen interior ergonomic spark failed to ignite when the designers came to lay out the air-conditioning controls in the cabin. Inherited from the Lupo, placed low on the centre console, drivers have to take their eyes off the road for a split second when adjusting the fan speed, temperature (the GTI has digital climate control) or windscreen air flow – far from ideal…

Another foible is that the gearbox can be a little notchy when cold, getting smoother and easy to slot into its five ratios once the oil’s warmed through. The heated windscreen washers have also failed to work recently, though with temperatures dipping well below zero most days, that’s not necessarily a fault of the car. Finally, the boot light is very laissez-faire about when it wants to come on, suggesting a faulty microswitch. But, it’s working at the moment, so, fingers crossed it stays illuminating. You don’t realise how much you miss it until you don’t have it. Overall, though, five months in, Y464 is proving to be a fuss-free ownership proposition.

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12 December 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report two

Three months ago, Rich Gooding bought a 10 year-old Polo GTI, a (some would say much-needed) more modern foil to his 1994 Polo GT coupé. Is the new relationship in still in its first flush, or is the honeymoon period well and truly over?

I still can’t quite believe that I’m driving something so much newer than the small 18 year-old hatchback (despite what VW say, the Mk 2 Polo coupé is a decidely usual hatchback shape) that has been part of my life for the last 12 years. The first three months with Y464 GHJ have largely been spent getting to know the car, and, as a freelance graphic designer, have been spent on the UK’s A-road and motorway network. Buying the car must have been an omen; little did I know at the time of purchase that I’d be regularly spending time driving to jobs. Something which in the elderly coupé, while enjoyable, would have been much less relaxing.

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13 September 2011 ~ 3 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI – report one

This wasn’t supposed to happen. In the space of four days, I thought about getting a car, went and saw two locally, and ended up buying the first one I saw. Little over a month ago, I hadn’t even considered driving anything other than my 18 year-old Polo GT Coupé. But that was before the Volkswagen UK 2011 Polo GTI arrived, and unwittingly – and starkly – pointed out that even a 1993 car is now an antique. Lovingly referred to by family members as ‘the classic car’, the coop has covered 164,000 mies, 116,000 of those in my 12-year ownership. But, surprisingly (both to me and those that know me), it now has a new driveway mate.

As I hadn’t considered buying another, newer, car, I hadn’t really thought about what form that more modern, refined, yet cheap fun potential purchase would take. Being a lifelong fan, I guess it was always going to be a Volkswagen, although when I started looking at my £3000 limit, all sorts of machinery presented itself. From early Renaultsport Clio 172s (I’ve always liked the look of the first-generation cars) through to first-year, high-mileage Audi A2s, the search was quite an eye-opener. But as you can see from the picture above, I again plumped for a Polo, my fifth. Was it really going to be anything else?

A 2001-model GTI, it has a 1.6-litre, 125bhp VVT engine, and is seemingly a lot of car for the money. With ABS, CD player, digital air-conditioning/climate control, EDL, headlamp washers, power-steering, remote central locking, sport seats and xenon headlights, it ticks all the equipment boxes, and the fact that it looks natty with its 15-inch BBS alloys and Reflex Silver paintwork sealed the deal. It’s only covered 67,000 miles, too and comes with an almost solely Volkswagen Retailer stamped up service book. There are some little bits and pieces that need sorting naturally (it is a 10 year-old car after all), but that’s half the fun. The interior needs a good clean, too , but it’s nothing an afternoon of elbow grease shouldn’t sort out.

I’ve got no plans for the car apart from the initial tidy up, as I’d like to keep it standard. The first parts have been bought – a set of mudflaps to protect the paintwork, and also a replacement whip aerial mast to replace the corroded chrome one that’s on the car at the moment. There were things to look out for, though. Volkswagen issued a pedal box recall around seven years ago, and this car’s been done, and it’s also had a recent cambelt change. The gearbox feels fine too, as these can cause problems.

At 38, is it my ‘mid-life crisis’ car? I don’t think so, it’s just a much more sensible option for these modern times we live in (although not as sensible as a three-cylinder TDI might have been, of which I only saw three advertised at a 2000-2002 vintage). Yes the Clio 172 would have been more fun in an enthusiast sense, but the possibly flaky build and cheap-looking interior did it no favours. Have I made the right choice? I’m hoping my first foray into GTI ownership will be as much of a pleasure to own as its driveway predecessors, but only time will tell. But, when your other half tells you it’s a good-looking car, you know you could be onto a winner.

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