Test Volkswagen Polo GTI 2023, sportsmanship for day to day

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The Polo GTI is the sportiest and most performance version of the Volkswagen Polo, a utility tourism with conventional two-volume bodywork. This car was updated by its manufacturer in 2021. It received both aesthetic and technological changes. By then, the construction of the GTI had been discontinued, but in 2022 Volkswagen decided to remarket it with 7 hp more maximum power (went from 200 to 207). In general, it can be defined as a car with a dynamic behavior well above the average in its category that does not give up a good degree of practicality.

Like the Ford Fiesta ST (200 hp) and the Hyundai i20 N (204 CV), its main rivals in the Spanish market, the Polo GTI is oriented towards a customer who is looking for a vehicle with compact dimensions, but with five doors and five homologated seats, which has a high level of performance and offers pleasant and fun sensations when driving. It is for sale from 34.540 euros, so it is not a cheap product despite being relatively small. For that amount of money you get a automatic gearbox and lots of utility equipment.

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207 CV and DSG change: keys to achieve high performance and low consumption

In the Volkswagen Polo GTI is installed a turbocharged gasoline engine with four cylinders, 2,0 liter displacement and up to 207 HP of power. It delivers a total of 320 Nm of torque. site on the front axle, sole drive of the two, this propeller mates to a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission which works through a mechanism double clutch robotized. This gearbox allows gear transitions to be carried out "manually" from a few paddles placed on the back of the steering wheel. They are made of plastic, they are not fixed and they act in a precise way.

Thanks to the above figures and a curb weight of 1.450 kg, the car in question manages to accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in 6,5 seconds and reach a top speed of 240 km/h. They are excellent numbers for the segment in which it competes. However, its fuel consumption is not high. Volkswagen has managed to standardize an average cost of 6,8 l / 100 km according to WLTP procedure, which is pretty cool considering how fast he can move. On the contrary, the tank of this car has only 40 liters of capacity which, despite being the usual in its class, is little when it comes to facing long distances (range rarely exceeds 500 kilometers).

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Its size and design allow you not to miss the Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Polo GTI measures 4,07 meters in length, 1,75 wide and 1,43 high (0,015 less than a normal one). Its wheelbase is 2,55 meters. Are the Dimensions typical of a standard compact from a couple of decades ago (current utilities have grown a lot in size), so it has a cabin suitable for five people to travel in it. Four will do it with some comfort if they are not tall, since the central rear seat is very narrow and is designed for short journeys.

The interior dimensions are generous when compared to the average for cars in its category. In this aspect, the Polo GTI does not have significant differences with respect to a basic one. It stands out from its rivals for length and width both in the first and second row of seats. Not so in the height of the passenger compartment, which is somewhat more limited, especially in front and especially if an openable glass roof is equipped. In return, the trunk is quite large - 351 liters of minimum capacity, which can be extended to more than a thousand if the backrests of the rear seats are lowered.

If compared to a Volkswagen Golf current GTI (2020), superior model and with which it shares many aesthetic features as well as very similar features (yes, its consumption is significantly higher), this Polo GTI is a car with similar cabin measurements (slightly lower in the posterior area) and with a 23 liters smaller load space, which is negligible in practice. Considering that the Golf is 22 cm longer, the Polo is a vehicle that, in general, it is better optimized and has a higher level of practicality in urban environments (it is a little easier to park). Of course it is also much cheaper: around 14.000 euros which, in our opinion, is not worth paying.

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Average quality, a lot of equipment and a disappointing multimedia system

Evidently the quality of the materials and the adjustments of the Polo GTI is worse than that of its “big brother”, a compact more solid and "round" in almost every way. It does not mean that it is poorly built. Simply, for its manufacture a shortened module of the MQB platform and a series of interior components where the use of medium quality hard plastics (they are not rough to the touch, but they feel very coarse). It is usual in this segment and Volkswagen has decided not to stand out in it by using parts with more packaging or better appearance. At least the bright red painted trim on the dashboard or center console, as well as the multiple crimson details and the emblems with the name GTI, are original and contribute to a sporty and relaxed atmosphere.

In the equipment section, this car has a technological endowment and high comfort. For example, as standard it already has seven airbags (including one center front), ISOFIX anchors for child restraint systems in three of the five seats, one good set of driving aids (lane change assist and sign recognition are optional), Matrix and adaptive LED headlights with daytime stripe on the grille, front fog lights, four driving modes, interior mirror with anti-glare function, fully manually adjustable steering wheel and front seats, center armrest, dual zone climate control, tinted rear windows, pilots with dynamic indicators, striped fabric upholstery, mechanical handbrake (with lever), illuminated trunk and inch wheels 17 (those of 18 carry extra cost).

The part that, without a doubt, seemed most disappointing to us about the Polo GTI is the one that has to do with the infotainment and the controls of the multimedia system, which is composed of two screens: one 8-inch touch screen located at the top of the center console and another normal 10, behind the wheel, which acts as a digital instrument cluster. As has been the case for other Volkswagen Group products for the past three years, the software of this vehicle tends to give many errors: sudden blackouts, lack of response, wrong actions on the haptic buttons of the climate control, steering wheel or central screen, poor mobile compatibility with Apple that causes "pixilations" and image distortions on Google Maps while using the application, etc. Besides, the main viewer, although intuitive, is not characterized by being fast and suffers from a lot of reflexes when it receives direct light from outside. In short, it is not up to the vehicles of this brand.

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Driving impressions: the essence of a true German hot hatch

To the Volkswagen Polo GTI it can be defined, in dynamic terms, as the “perfect” front-wheel drive sports car. This car has a Very good behavior, without reaching "radicality" and the "precision" that presents, for example, a Fiesta ST. It is still a car with a chassis that prioritizes stability and grip over comfort, but does so with certain concessions to comfort, which contributes to think that it is a real german hot hatch, at the height of the Golf GTI: easy to drive at high speeds, with agile and predictable reactions, but above all balanced.

We have tested a unit that had a sports running gear which the brand calls Sport Select and which has variable hardness shock absorbers, as well as a thicker front stabilizer bar. The difference between conventional and sports mode is noticeable, but not abysmal. In its standard position, the suspension is already quite hard, but not dry. It responds well in potholes of any frequency, but its quality is not enough to avoid jolts in sharp jumps, common in cities. In its stiffer or firmer position, support changes occur more quickly and cornering is noticeably improved.

About the engine and gearbox, needless to say much: it is a combination more than successful and that translates into excellent benefits for this segment From the market. The engine has plenty of performance to feel an adrenaline rush at the controls, while the DSG transmission box works as smoothly and efficiently as it is spirited. The truth is that a manual transmission is not missed because Volkswagen has made a fun, pleasant utility with the essence of a traditional GTI.

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In addition, despite being a gasoline with 2 liters of displacement, the cost of fuel that can be obtained is very surprising, especially if one takes into account that it is not a truly light model (it weighs about 1,5 tons). In the city, it is difficult to go below 8 l/100 km, but on the highway and at legal speeds, it is possible to maintain 6 l/100 km if the conditions are favorable (little load, little wind, little slope, etc.). With Eco mode, it is possible to drive “under sail”, that is, without retention, maximizing inertia when the accelerator pedal is not depressed.

Two aspects are striking, for the better: how well the IQ.LIGHT headlights illuminate at night and the braking capacity that the Polo GTI has without having unusual brakes installed. On the contrary, the seats are a bit tiring when facing long journeys, the result of the utilitarian and sporty nature of this vehicle. The driving position is normal and suitable for people up to 1,90 meters tall. With the most dynamic settings, it seems that the sound of the engine comes out of the speakers. This is not bad, but it generates a less pure and more artificial sensation.

Otherwise, the set-up of the steering seems quite adequate to us (although we would have preferred it a bit less filtered in an entire GTI), handling and visibility are good, while the ride quality is extraordinary for this class of car: acoustic insulation, stability and impression of tightness above the average for cars of its size and price. Small interior noises from mismatches (rubbing) are accused with approximately 7.500 km of use and one year old.

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Volkswagen Polo GTI 2023 prices: an increasingly less affordable toy

Speaking of price, the acquisition cost of the Volkswagen Polo GTI is 34.540 euros, although it can exceed 40.000 based on optional equipment (as was the case in the unit we have tested). Is a amount of money that can be assumed if the advantages of this car are considered: versatile, with more than 200 CV and with automatic transmission. Also has lots of standard equipment. If only its external dimensions are taken into account, it is a high figure for a utility.

Compared to its alternatives, it is the most expensive option by far: the Fiesta ST costs 31.250 euros and the i20 N is worth 31.440 euros. It is at least surprising that less than five years ago, when the second generation Polo GTI was first launched on the market, Volkswagen asked for him a minimum of 23.920 euros (version with manual transmission). In other words, to obtain this product in 2023 you have to pay almost 50% more than in 2018.

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Conclusion: the most balanced utility with which you can have fun on a daily basis

Expensive or cheap, there is no other five-door high-performance compact utility as well-rounded, versatile and balanced as this. We are very pleased that there are passenger cars that, although they do not stand out fundamentally in anything or are characterized by something in particular, do almost everything well (and this one of them). The Polo GTI is a fun but neutral car that seeks to please the majority of drivers.

The previous "almost" has its origin in a multimedia system that, hopefully, the German brand is able to improve soon. In any case, it is not the worst point in a car designed to enjoy driving, although it is loaded with comfort equipment and active safety. Details abound that refer, with pride, to the condition of GTI, initials that this Polo honors with its excellent qualities.

Photo gallery of the Volkswagen Polo GTI 2023 (white and with sunroof)

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