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VW Polo GTI 2018 review – finally worthy of those three letters?

Jordan Katsianis
11 Jul 2018
Verdict:

VW's Polo GTI is a polished and capable, but lack intensity compared to rivals and playfulness of the bigger Golf GTI

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£21,145
For 
Impressive mid-range grunt, competent daily driver
Against 
Handling is one-dimensional, adept but not exciting, firm ride
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Interior and tech

Thanks to the new Polo’s substantial growth in width, space inside feels far more generous than most superminis, feeling well screwed together, without being too grown up. The GTI bits are crucial to this, as the usual appearance of tartan seats and red stitching, augmented with new elements like the giant slab of red plastic stretched across the dashboard, help lift the otherwise dull interior. The seats are near perfect, comfortable and supportive, having enough lateral support without resorting to supersized bolsters that restrict access.

The GTI’s excellent steering wheel also adds to this sense of sportiness, as although we aren’t particularly fond of flat-bottomed wheels, the smooth leather and perfect grips help lift the GTI’s interior over mainstream Polos. It would be nice to have some more substantial paddle shifters behind the wheel, but they feel reasonably solid and are an acceptable trade-off for their quick-witted responses as compared to other dual-clutch gearbox supermini hot hatches, whose paddles look good but are slow to respond (looking at you, Renault Sport Clio).

In typical VW style, though, all the touch points are almost perfect. The driving position is near spot-on, unlike many superminis, with plenty of adjustment in the steering and seating positions. The high-mounted infotainment system is also placed in exactly the right position, close to the driver’s eye-line without looking like an afterthought like most floating screens. Beside which, Plus cars are fitted with VW’s Active Info display, a screen replacing the traditional dials. These screens are becoming increasingly in vogue, but its use in a supermini definitely gives the Polo GTI’s interior a distinct USP, although it’s not quite as high resolution as the Golf.

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