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Reader test: VW Polo GTI

2008-12-29 13:23

Raiees Valley, Cape Town

Reader Raiees took a tentative step away from Toyota to strap himself into a Polo GTI. He tells us why.

Used cars and a used car salesman usually send shivers down one’s spine. Fortunately when I took delivery of my Volkswagen Polo GTI from VW Mastercars I was really happy. The salesman, Daemen Freeguard, was excellent, which to a point made me suspicious. That’s why when test driving the car and doing a normal inspection, I took a car fanatic as well as a panel beater/mechanic along, just to be sure.

Lots of people say the Polo GTI is overrated and a waste of money with a bolted-on old Golf 4 GTI engine in it. I thought that too, until I got behind the wheel of the car and put my foot down. It does, as the catalogue says, put a grin on your face.


When I collected the car from the dealer, it was storming quite a bit. An excellent time to examine ESP system, I thought. The system is great; it helps it to keep the car on the road when taking turns and also with overall handling.

A real nice-to-have, which I think should come standard on any car. However, the car is way more fun with ESP off, as it feels much lighter and faster.

It’s very nippy off the line and goes nicely through turns, however as it’s been said all over, it does have that added body roll which big brother GTI doesn’t have. It's minor really, compared to what the car can do.


At first, I wondered how on earth VW managed to get the older Golf GTI engine into the Polo.

Also, being the same engine as the older Golf GTI you wonder why it only produces 110 kW. Well, I must say, that with its 220 Nm coming in quite early from 2 000 r/min, it’s got a lot of pull from low down already.

Bringing the car up to 3 000 r/min, it sort of comes alive with the exhaust system giving off a really nice growl.

Certainly, the car can go faster and VW seems to always play nice with aftermarket modifications to the GTI market. The Polo GTI is no exception, chipping it alone gives it around 132 kW with no extra modifications.

Petrol consumption on the car is great too; depending on how you drive, you can get anywhere from 7 – 12 l/100 km.

Interior and design

Yes, the seats are cloth with the Interlagos design, which doesn’t bother me at all really since they are extremely comfortable over longer distances.

The interior matches a full-spec Polo TDI with the exception of the nice chunky steering wheel, leather gearshift housing and sports pedals. It also has the extras with cruise control, sunroof and electric mirrors.

The only hint that it’s a Polo GTI is the front honeycomb grill, 16-inch Denvers and the twin exhaust pipes. Nothing really makes it stand out from other Polos, which I like very much.

My thoughts

I’ve never been a VW fan at all; to be honest I was always on the Toyota side of the fence. But I'm slowly changing my opinion of that now. The Polo GTI is a great car if you're looking for a small fast car with all the bells and whistles to match - and this is definitely not a "girls' car".

Also, right now you could easily pick up one for a bargain with the state of the car industry.

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