The original performance variant of the Polo was unveiled in 1986 in the form of the G40 Coupé – a car that mixed a fast-revving, 113hp, supercharged engine with a low curb weight and sharp responses.
Fast forward 24 years and the new Polo GTI bears similarities with the G40. At its heart is a 1.4-liter TSI engine that uses a supercharger from idle through to 3000rpm, at which point the turbocharger cuts in to provide boost. The result is an output of 180hp at 6200 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque from 2000rpm. Combined with 2600 lb curb weight, the Polo GTI can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds before reaching a top speed of 142mph. Despite a focus on performance, the new Polo GTI is capable of delivering 39mpg US on the combined cycle while emitting just 139g/km of CO2.
The TSI engine is linked to a compact seven-speed, twin-clutch DSG gearbox that channels drive through the front axle. In addition, the Polo GTI is fitted with the XDS differential, an electronic cross-axle traction control system for improved traction and handling. The XDS system is a functional extension of the electronic limited slip differential (EDL) which is a part of the standard ESP system. In order to sharpen responses, the Polo GTI is fitted with new springs and dampers which results in a 15mm lower ride height than the conventional Polo.
Like its Golf GTI sibling, the Polo GTI features significant aesthetic changes. It has a new front bumper featuring a deep airdam plus a honeycomb grille with horizontal red strips and simple GTI badge. New headlight units with the option of LED running lights lend the Polo GTI an imposing new look.
Further back, subtle sill panels wrap around the lower edge of the body while a new rear bumper features a small diffuser and a pair of chrome-tipped exhausts. Finally, a set of 17” wheels, identical to those fitted to the Golf GTI, are fitted along with red brake calipers.
The changes continue inside with revised dials, a flat-bottomed GTI steering wheel complete with small gearshift paddles and contrasting red stitching, aluminum pedals and heavily bolstered front sports seats finished in plaid trim. Subtle gloss black trim covers the centre console, while the headliner is also in black.
The new Polo GTI is due to arrive in Europe this summer.