2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI

1999 6N2 Polo GTI

Back Catalogue | Volkswagen Polo GTI

With a new Volkswagen Polo GTI announced, we’ve taken a look back at the previous versions of Wolfsburg’s supermini that have worn the fabled hot hatch badge. And not just because ESM’s editor has owned two of them…

VW Polo GT

Ok, maybe the ownership history plays a small part in it, but there’s also the motivation to raise the profile of the Polo GTI and its ancestors. Having spent some 19 years living in the shadow of the bigger Golf GTI, we think it’s only fair that the Polo gets some attention. There were fast Polos before the GTI, but here we’ve stuck with the six that were given the GTI badge.

1998 – 6N Polo GTI


Until 1998, the most powerful version of the third-generation 6N Polo was the 1.4-litre 16V model with 100hp. Things changed in 1998, with the introduction of a limited edition GTI, boasting a 1.6-litre engine producing 120hp. Suspension lowered by 15mm, a set of 15″ BBS RXII alloy wheels, uprated brakes, and a standard Electronic Differential Lock were the other mechanical changes.

Inside was a leather-wrapped steering wheel, with sports seats and red-edged floors mats also part of the package. Only 3,000 cars were produced, and all in left-hand drive, meaning the UK would have to wait slightly longer for a Polo GTI.

 

1999 to 2002 – 6N2 Polo GTI

1999 6N2 Polo GTI

ESM’s editor had one. He still talks about it now. A lot…

As part of a comprehensive mid-life facelift, Volkswagen made the Polo GTI a permanent fixture on the 6N2 price list. Much was carried over from the 6N GTI including the same 1.6-litre engine, but with power boosted to 125hp. This drove the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox, which gained a reputation for failure at high mileage. Something the 6N2 GTI owned by ESM’s editor fortunately managed to avoid. 0-62mph needed 8.7 seconds, with a top speed of 127mph, meaning performance was more warm than boiling.

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Paris 2014 – Friday Photo – The Volkswagen Polo GTI (again)

Full disclosure; we only featured the new Polo GTI as a Friday photo two weeks ago. But, to coincide with the full launch of the car at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen revealed more details of the baby GTI. Including one that’s very important to EngageSportMode.

Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, (right) Volkswagen board member for ‘Development’ is possibly our new favourite person.

The XL Sport may have stolen the show in Paris, but Volkswagen also used the French event to release more details about the new Polo GTI. Unlike EngageSportMode’s prediction, the new GTI doesn’t feature a 750 bhp V12 engine, 4WD, or ten-speed automatic gearbox. Well, we guess you have to save some things for the ‘R’ version…

What it will have, is a 1.8 litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 189 bhp – 12 more than the previous 1.4 TSI – and 236 lb-ft of torque. That’s sufficient for 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 147 mph; not bad for the smallest GTI in the Volkswagen family.  In fact, that’s only 0.2 of a second slower to 62 mph than the bigger Golf GTI. A six-speed manual gearbox now comes as standard, meaning buyers are no longer forced to endure a DSG transmission. The seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box does remain on the options list, however.

The biggest news, for ESM at least, is the optional ‘Sport Performance Kit’ that features a Sport button on the dashboard. Yes, the new Polo GTI will have a Sport Mode; we rejoice! Along with changing the stiffness of the optional ‘Sport Select’ suspension, the Sport button will also increase steering weight, sharpen the throttle response, and make the engine noise inside the car louder through the sound actuator. Quite frankly, Volkswagen has ticked every single box on the Sport Mode checklist when putting together the Sport Performance Kit, for which we’re truly happy.

They're not kidding!

They’re not kidding. Best VW switch since the Mk4 Golf ‘Funk’ button?

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Friday Photo – New Polo GTI

Having owned a total of six Polos amongst the team of EngageSportMode’s contributors, it’s fair to say we’re fans of the Volkswagen supermini. We’re even bigger fans when it comes to the GTI version, with ESM’s editor describing his beloved 6N2 GTI as ‘the best car he’s ever owned’. So excitement was understandably high when photos emerged of the latest iteration of Wolfsburg’s junior hot-hatch.

In some slight press office weirdness, Volkswagen has released the photos for the new Polo GTI, but no actual accompanying details. As such, we’ve been left to mere speculation as to what is underneath (some more fanciful than others) the subtly revised bodywork.

The general consensus is a 1.8 TFSI petrol engine with around 180-190 bhp thus ditching the 1.4 twin-charger unit which, although powerful, had developed a poor reputation for excessive oil consumption. In addition, the interior pictures show what is quite obviously a manual gearbox, again dispensing with the DSG ‘box found in the pre-facelift version.

It’s a good looking car, with lots of nice details borrowed from the bigger Golf GTI. Those alloy wheels are particularly special, and the interior is resplendent with red GTI trim. Perhaps the biggest question will be cost. Volkswagen needs to position the Polo GTI carefully to avoid being too close too both the Golf GTI, and Audi S1 on price. Anything more than £22,000 in the UK may really stunt sales.

We’ll bring you all the actual information on the Polo GTI when Volkswagen actually releases it, which we presume will be closer to the car’s official unveiling at the Paris Motor Show in a two weeks time.