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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