VW Polo GTI, a nippy, sexy “family” car

Although small in nature, I admit this Polo has a lot of space for a family of four.

Volkswagen Polo GTI has grown up over the years and nowhere is this more evident than in the top-of-the-range GTI, which is a true, red-blooded “hot hatch”. We sent two VW fans to get their opinions on the car.

Seelan Pillay

When you get a chance to drive these types of cars you don’t turn it down, even if you’re going to Sun City for the weekend, with the family and golf clubs. I know that sounds weird, seeing that my own VW Jetta would be more than enough to accommodate all of these comfortably. But, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
So, this is how I did it.
Wife front seat, check. Golf bag through the dropped-down rear seat, check. Six-year-old son centre-back seat (belt on) and 12-year-old daughter right-rear seat, check. Luggage in whatever space is left in the boot, check. Comfortable? Check.
I have seen crazy challenges before with people being stuffed into a VW Beetle like a can of sardines, but I wasn’t trying to do that. I wanted to push the car to its space limitations and see how it performed – on the open road and in and around the resort.
I have to admit that the car, although small in nature, has a lot of space for a family of four.
I think hatchbacks are underestimated in South Africa and are not seen as family cars or not worthy to be taken on a weekend trip to the Pilanesberg. But many of the middle income normal Joe South Africans cannot afford the big SUVs or sedans on offer.
Hatchbacks have been family cars for as long as I can remember, and still are.
This VW Polo even boasts a larger 350-litre boot. My dad used to take his family of five on holiday to the south coast in his “jumbo” Golf back in the day, with fishing rods and all.
The fuel consumption on this Polo is pretty decent as well. I got around 6.5-litres per 100km, but I never took it off Eco mode. The car was responsive and no lack of power given the load and I’m sure this is due to the 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine in the Polo GTI.

The other impressive element about the car was its height clearance … even with all the occupants, it went over bumps and my fear of leaving the undercarriage along the road was quashed.
From an aesthetic point of view, this car looks sexy and it got a lot of attention. The valet attendant at Sun City knew immediately that this was the new Polo and he was very impressed.
The cult status around the GTI badge and detailing on the car makes it unmissable and really draws attention from its gurgling exhaust system. The price tag is quite high if you include all the extras, but the base models provide a cheaper alternative to this nippy “small family” vehicle.

Well done VW, you’ve done it again

Shaun Holland

Since the previous generation VW Polo GTI was released, I was obsessed with the car. I loved its styling as well as the 1.4 TSI GTI engine which used a turbo and supercharger (which at the time was meant to be the future of engines).
I even had it as my screensaver on my PC at the office so I could admire it, but I unfortunately never had the opportunity to test it.
Seven years later and Volkswagen has finally decided to release the new model Polo GTI and to my surprise, they dumped the 1.4 TSI engine replacing it with a more powerful 2.0 turbocharged motor that they borrowed from the Golf 7 GTI which increased the power output from 132kW to 147kW.
Along with the increased power output and an improved suspension, VW borrowed some styling from the Golf 7 and incorporated it onto the Polo, so much so that one sometimes finds himself mistaking it for its bigger brother.
The interior has a sporty feel and the media system and trim contributed to this ride’s appeal.
The downfall though, and there weren’t many, was that it has a shorter range than usual with a full tank. If you could get 485km range on a full tank I would be impressed because this car was not light on fuel at all. This was expected though since VW chose to go with the bigger engine.
Would I buy this car though? My answer is unfortunately no.

And the reason is because the petrol price has just gone up, and after I was fortunate enough to test the Polo Beats edition – with a 1.0 turbo – which was much more economical on fuel, I don’t see any reason to buy the more expensive, less economical GTI which has the same features as the less expensive Polo Beats edition.
Unless, of course, one wants to fuel their boyhood dreams … literally.


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