Polo GTI is a mature hot hatch
VOLKSWAGEN'S new Polo GTI rides better than some hot hatch rivals when pointed at a country road and punted vigorously. That makes it a much more liveable daily proposition
1. POLO UPS THE ANTE
Everything about the Polo GTI is bigger - and largely better. The previous 1.8-litre turbo has been upgraded to a 2.0-litre packing 147kW/320Nm matched to a six-speed dual-clutch auto. A 90mm increase in the wheelbase liberates more space in the rear seats - there's still realistically only room for two adults back there - and the boot is now a supermarket-friendly 305L. The 0-100km/h sprint takes 6.7 seconds, as with the outgoing model, because the Polo's growth spurt added 50kg.
2. CHECK THE OPTIONS
The Polo lists at $30,990 before on-road costs, or $14,000 cheaper than the five-door dual-clutch Golf GTI. Start adding option packs - tick at least the $1400 driver assistance bundle - and the cost will rapidly approach $40,000. Said pack includes adaptive cruise control, semi-automated parking, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert. The $1900 sound and vision pack adds digital driver's display, satnav and 300W stereo and the $3900 luxury box gets you microfibre upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlamps, 18-inch alloys, sunroof and tinted rear windows. Servicing is at 12 month/15,000km intervals and the first three trips cost about $1447.
3. DEFAULT GEAR IS STILL OK
The GTI comes with eight-inch infotainment screen with smartphone mirroring, signature tartan cloth upholstery, dual-zone aircon, tyre-pressure monitor, space-saver spare, auto lights and wipers and a leather-bound steering wheel with paddle-shifters. Parking sensors aren't on the list but the reversing camera is accurate and, in low-light conditions, of a better resolution than many.
4. AEB IS STANDARD
You have to fork out extra for the blind-spot alert but the Polo GTI maintains a high standard of basic safety features, in crash protection and safety assist alike. The autonomous emergency braking includes city-speed pedestrian detection. ANCAP rates it a five-star car based on this year's criteria and it scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 85 per cent for child protection, 76 per cent on pedestrian safety and, largely due to the absence of lane-departure warning, 59 per cent for safety assist.
5. IT'S A MATURE HOT HATCH
The GTI rides noticeably harder than a regular Polo over city humps but, even with its relatively unsophisticated torsion-beam rear suspension, it avoids the spleen-jarring jumpiness of some hot hatch rivals when pointed at a country road and punted vigorously. That makes it a much more liveable daily proposition - and few buyers will use this purely as a track car or weekend warrior. Leave the suspension in the normal setting and dial up the engine and steering response for the best results.