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Polo GTI shock

Game on: The Polo GTI isn’t going on sale in Europe until early next year.

On sale now, Australians are first in the world to be able to buy VW’s baby hot hatch

21 Oct 2005

VOLKWAGEN has quite literally dropped a baby bombshell in Australia.

The Polo GTI hot hatch unexpectedly went on sale in Australia on Friday October 21 priced from $26,990. This is just two days after its international debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Australia is the first market in the world to be able to buy it, beating the Germans by two months and Britain by almost six.

A Volkswagen has never been released here before its home market.

At $26,990 the Spanish-built 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 version of VW's long-serving 1.8-litre 20-valve turbocharged four-cylinder engine that first saw light locally in the Audi A4 1.8T 10 years ago.

Its 210Nm torque top plateaus out from 1950rpm. However, with an extra 30Nm, the also-new Polo TDI model trumps the GTI for torque.

Nevertheless the latter hits the zero-to-100km/h mark in 8.2 seconds on the way to a 216km/h top speed. More importantly it will accelerate from 80km/h to 120km/h in 7.5 seconds.

The GTI's 1.8 turbo 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, 15mm drop in ride height and retuned suspension components, the GTI should have the dynamic aptitude to match the exterior styling.

Based on the newly released Series Two 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 series 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.

The Polo GTI was unveiled in Sydney by the company’s chairman of the VW brand group Dr Wolfgang Bernhard.

Describing the front-end styling, he quipped: "In the rear view mirror it says only two things – piss off!"

3 center imageVolkswagen 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.

Currently there is a seven-month wait on the Golf GTI.

In fact he would be happy for the Polo GTI to alleviate some of the backlog of orders for its bigger brother.

"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," Mr Wiesner added.

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.

The '96 model managed only 55kW of power from a 1.6-litre single-cam four-cylinder engine until a more-modern 55kW 1.4-litre unit replaced it at facelift time in late 2000.

This engine was essentially carried over when the fourth-generation (A04) Polo landed here just under three years ago.

But significant rises in size and weight blunted the Polo's performance until the TDI and now GTI were added to the range - along with a facelift - this month.

"We’re hoping the GTI will create a buzz that rubs off on the rest of the Polo range," Mr Wiesner said.

2006 Volkswagen Polo GTI pricing:$26,990
Leather upholstery: $2490
Sunroof: $1490

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