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New Polo GTI guaranteed to bring smiles to die-hard VW fans

Looking for a car with strong road presence, usable performance, street credibility and a youthful character? Look no further than the latest VW Polo GTI.

In 1976 the original Golf GTI was launched. More than four decades later, Volkswagen continues to sustain enthusiasm for the GTI brand, having expanded the philosophy of attainable performance to models like the Polo and VW Up compact.

I recently drove the new Polo GTI, which was updated earlier this year. In 1998 Volkswagen launched the first Polo GTI, which our market did not receive. We did receive the last three iterations, however.

Guaranteed to bring a smile to VW die-hard fans, the current Polo is underpinned by Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Platform (MQB), which stands for technological progress, high body rigidity, an exemplary low weight and sound crash properties, according to the carmaker. The platform has proven its mettle across various product lines.

The Polo GTI retains the 2.0-litre TSI engine which sends power to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG).

Although on the quiet side, the delivery of the quoted 147kW/320Nm is impressive. The vehicle feels light on its feet, yet solid and sure-footed.

One cannot help but fall in love with this little pocket rocket, with its intoxicating mix of speed, agility and lively character.

Attractive design: the 2022 Polo GTI comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, 18-inch are an option.

Attractive exterior features include standard new matrix LED headlights and an illuminated bar across the radiator grille. It creates clear visual kinship to the electric ID family.

Our test car looked great in King’s Red. Four other colour options are offered:  Deep Black Pearl, Smoke Grey, Pure White and Reef Blue. The car comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, 18-inch wheels are an option.

On the inside, front occupants are gripped by sport seats. The optional Beats sound system was the cherry on top, delivering a 330W punch via six speakers. Luggage capacity of the Polo GTI is 351 litres.

The standard infotainment system is easy to operate. A digital instrument cluster serves the driver, with various displays selected via the steering wheel. Quality is of the typical Volkswagen standard and the red elements in the cabin lend a racy feel to the mix.

Refined and well-equipped interior

Pricing kicks off at R514,500, making it considerably more affordable than the Golf 8 GTI, whose engine it shares. The Golf starts at R733,300.

Overall, the Polo GTI experience is a great one. This is a car with presence, usable performance, street credibility and a youthful character.

The GTI nameplate is well over 40 years old and has earned a loyal following. It will be interesting to observe how Volkswagen translates it into the digital era.

Prashirwin Naidu
Prashirwin Naidu
Aspiring scribe, Prashirwin Naidu is a writer focusing on cars and the arts.
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