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Road test: Volkswagen Polo GTI

The latest generation of Polo has evolved ever so subtly in terms of looks, having received just a few minor cosmetic tweaks. Where it has advanced is with a sensible uplift to its technology – in both the parts one can see and those you can’t – bringing it fully up-to-date. The variety of engines also means there’s something for everyone. Well, almost.

Now, the final requirement has been met, with the addition of the range-topping GTI. Almost a sub-brand, these three letters conjure up hot 1980s hatchbacks, the free spirit of the open road and silly insurance premiums. Times have changed and motoring has grown-up so where does that leave the GTI? The Golf GTI adds £10,000 to the entry model and it is a sizeable car, too. This is where the Polo GTI comes in. The same length as the second generation Golf and almost as wide as the third generation, this puts it right back where the Golf GTI started.

Cutting to the chase, the Polo GTI is enormous fun. Packing a comfortable 192 PS and not inconsiderable 320 Nm of torque, it dispatches 62mph in just 6.7 seconds. Its manners are impeccable – simply delighting in being thrown into bends – and showing negligible torque steer (which dogged Polos of old) on the dry roads during the test. The standard suspension is marginally soft when compared to rivals’ sporty models such as the Fiesta ST but Volkswagen seems to have balanced it just right for overall comfort.

Volkswagen has adopted the minimalist approach to exterior styling across the range and the Polo GTI is distinctly understated. Wearing just its GTI badges and a pair of twin exhausts, it remains outwardly sensible-looking and smart while hiding its true spirit. Practicality – the big selling point of the hatchback GTI – remains one of the Polo’s strong points. The interior leans more toward sensible than funky but the latest VW media interface is excellent. On a top specification like the GTI, we would have expected automatic lights and wipers (£150 for the convenience pack) plus climate control (£380) and the pearly Oryx White paint on our test car costs an eye watering £955.

So, without going mad on the options, you’ll get a fabulous all-rounder for your money: civilised for the daily commute, practical and yet able to give its driver some good old fashioned fun.

Volkswagen Polo GTI, from £18,900 (three door manual)

Power: 192 PS (@ 4,200-6,200 rpm), torque: 320 Nm (@ 1,450-4,200 rpm), emissions: 139 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 6.7 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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