Car reviews - Volkswagen - Polo - GTI 3-dr hatch
30 Jun 2006
VOLKWAGEN’S hot-hatch Polo GTI has made its worldwide sales debut in Australia.
Available in just one model, the five-speed manual light-car contender is priced from $26,990, with leather, sunroof and metallic paint the only options at $2490, $1490 and $490 respectively.
It also marks the first time any VW model has never been released in Australia before Germany, underlying the importance of the local subsidiary.
VW says it’s also a reflection on how popular the Polo GTI’s bigger brother, the Golf GTI, has been here.
Built in Spain, the Polo GTI undercuts rivals from Renault ($32,990 Sport Clio 182), Peugeot ($29,990 206 GTI) and BMW ($29,990 Mini Cooper), while exceeding the ancient Proton Satria GTI by only $1000.
Powering the front wheels is a 110kW 1.8-litre 20-valve turbocharged four-cylinder engine that first saw the light in the Audi A4 1.8T 10 years ago.
The turbo is a KKK Model K-03 with a maximum boost pressure of 165kpa (24psi), a normal operating pressure of 65kpa (10psi) and a maximum impeller speed of 128,000rpm.
Its 210Nm torque top plateaus out from 1950rpm, aiding its zero-to-100km/h sprint time of 8.2 seconds on the way to a 216km/h top speed.
The baby VW will also accelerate from 80km/h to 120km/h in 7.5 seconds.
The GTI's 1.8 turbo engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. No automatic will be offered for now. VW's acclaimed twin-clutch DSG will not fit into the Polo's drivetrain configuration.
With a brake upgrade (288mm at the front and 232mm at the rear), 15mm drop in ride height and retuned suspension components, the GTI has the dynamic aptitude to match the exterior styling.
Based on the newly released Series II version of the three-year old fourth-generation Polo, the GTI adopts many of the design details that differentiate the bigger Golf GTI from its more mundane siblings.
These include a cross-mesh grille that's ensconced by a blacked-out, front chin-spoiler-deep surround, five-star alloy wheels (wrapped by 16-inch 205/45-section tyres) and a rear spoiler.
Inside there is bespoke GTI instrumentation, bolstered front seats and leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake handle, while aluminium-look pedals are also included.
Standard features include six airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake-force distribution, electronic stability control and a low tyre-pressure indicator.
Volkswagen is reluctant to reveal how many GTIs it expects to sell per month, but there are about 200 being brought in this year.
According to VW Australia’s head of PR, Matthew Wiesner, it would be happy for another, Golf GTI-like response.
"The Polo GTI might appeal to those who want a GTI as a manual and a three-door hatch and aren’t prepared to wait for the Golf," he said.
This is the first sporty orientated Polo since the nameplate's launch in Australia in late 1996 - 23 years after the first-generation hit Europe's streets.
"We’re hoping the GTI will create a buzz that rubs off on the rest of the Polo range," Mr Wiesner said.
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Did you know?Australia was the first market in the world to receive the VW Polo GTI – just weeks after its international debut at the 2005 Tokyo motor show
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