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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Volkswagen Polo GTI

It’s 1979 and the Volkswagen Polo GT has just been launched with a beastly 1.3-litre engine producing a whopping 44 kW of power. It can get you to 100 km/h in an eye-watering 15 seconds and a rear view mirror to the right is an optional extra. Fast forward to 2018 and the new Polo GTI hits the market with figures that would have only been a dream back then. It sports a 2,0-litre TSI engine which produces 147 kW of power and 320 N.m of torque and can now get you to 100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds. How times change, hey?

The new Volkswagen Polo GTI is faster than ever before. It’s an interesting move VW has made, opting to increase its engine size when everyone else is downsizing, but we aren’t complaining. It went from a twin-charged 1.4-litre to a 1.8-litre in the previous generation and now to this 2.0-litre engine. There is a smidge more power than its predecessor but a lot more torque, making it even more fun to drive. Especially if you’re heading up a mountain pass such as Franschhoek Pass. I did so enjoy throwing this car around those bends yesterday. Although, I still kept it safe…unlike some of my lunatic colleagues, whose names I will not mention this time.

Standard on this new model is a six-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) and if you really need to know, the fuel consumption is claimed at 5.9l/100 km. Sport suspension is standard but you can opt for the Sport Select suspension. Switch from normal mode to Sport mode and you vary the characteristics of the steering, the engine, the gearbox and the active dampers.

Volkswagen Polo GTI

The classic GTI styling is still prominent and things like leather upholstery with seat heating is an optional extra, at a cost of R9 850. The new GTI is offered with the R8 650 Active info Display you can opt for on the rest of the Polo range and a host of other optional extras which include a R10 550 panoramic sunroof, R5 550 18-inch alloys and Discover Media Navigation which will set you back an extra R12 150. A quick question to those who pay extra for Sat Nav, are you aware that your phones have GPS systems in them and can therefore be used as a navigation tool? You are? Ok good, moving on…

Volkswagen Polo GTI

Ignore all those options and the price of the new Polo GTi is….drum roll please….CHEAPER than the outgoing model. That is unheard of in this industry. I mean, it is faster AND cheaper. What more do you want? It is priced at R375 900 and you can thank the plant in Uitenhage for that. Local is truly lekker people!

The Polo GTI is practical, comfortable, economical, quick and most importantly, an absolute hoot to drive. It is as close as you can get to its big brother, the Golf GTI, but with an almost R150 000 price difference. I know where my money would go!

Check out my launch report on the Volkswagen Polo Vivo.

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