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JUNIOR PARTNER (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The Volkswagen Polo GTI has long lived in the shadow of its bigger brother, the Golf GTI. Does it step into the light with this latest model? Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 38
If you're looking for a quick and discreet supermini that brings with it the trappings of big car quality, this Volkswagen Polo GTI is well worth a look. It's finally the fun steer it always should have been.
Backgroundword count: 142
Students of automotive history will know many of them. You know, the cars that would have been remembered far more fondly had they not been overshadowed by a far more illustrious stablemate? In the Eighties, the Audi S2 coupe had no chance whatsoever following in the footsteps of the brand's iconic Quattro coupe and the Peugeot 309 GTI might actually have been a better drive than the legend that was the 205 GTI. If you want the undisputed champ of neglected sibling syndrome though, look no further than the Volkswagen Polo GTI, apparently forever condemned to be the car people walk past in showrooms to moon over the Golf GTI. Volkswagen seems rather fed up with this state of affairs and, after many years of building warmish Polos that left British buyers somewhat underwhelmed, the gloves have finally come off. Game on.
Driving Experienceword count: 221
As well as playing second fiddle to the Golf, the Polo GTI has traditionally had to give best to the Ford Fiesta ST in the supermini hot hatch class. The latest Polo GTI sets out to rectify that issue, the old 190PS 1.8-litre turbo engine being ditched in favour of a far heavier duty 200PS 2.0-litre TSI unit, a de-tuned version of the powerplant used in the Golf GTI. From there, power is delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch DSG transmission, both options resulting in an identical sub-7.0sec sprint to 62mph. Why's that? It's because Volkswagen lets the engine deliver more torque when it's paired with the manual 'box, offsetting the slower shift times. The mechanical spec delivers lowered, stiffened suspension springs, uprated anti-roll bars and upgraded passive dampers as standard, though you can order switchable 'sport select' adaptive suspension as an option. Changes over the standard Polo include different front suspension knuckles, a stiffer torsion beam at the rear, revised suspension bushings and different axle geometries and roll centres. It all delivers a much more focused hot hatch. Those who prefer a more playful chassis and more communicative steering might still prefer the livewire Ford, but there's clearly been a lot of thought - and budget - poured into the Polo's dynamics.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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