Volkswagen Polo GT TSI has a sensational performance, is economical to drive, and is a technology trendsetter in its segment, but all this magic comes at a price.
I am driving at a steady 60 kmph on the Delhi-Jaipur highway when an over-anxious driver in his brand new Swift overtakes me, slows down and again goes past. He does this manoeuvre a couple of times. Smiling, and aware of the fact that the guy doesn’t quite know what lies under the bonnet of my test-drive car, I press the accelerator a mere two inches—this two-inch travel takes my car some 200 metres ahead of the Swift, in the process giving the guy some lessons on swiftness. That’s the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI for you.
Hot hatch (shortened from hot hatchback) is a high-performance derivative of a car body style consisting of a three-door or a five-door hatchback car. Such cars are generally equipped with a more powerful engine, improved suspension and, more often than not, come with aerodynamic body parts and larger wheels and tyres. Under R10 lakh, the Polo GT TSI is the only petrol hot hatch in India currently.
Even in the redesigned Polo GT TSI, little has changed. The front is exactly the same as the Polo facelift and the rear gets the same treatment. But it’s not that Volkswagen hasn’t tried telling people that this is the go-fast version of the regular Polo. So, there is GT badging on the front grille, on the C-pillar, on the rear door, and as a doorstep garnish. The ‘Estrada’ alloy wheels further differentiate the car from the regular Polo.
However, the biggest difference is that the Polo GT TSI gets a rear spoiler which enhances the appeal of the car especially when looked at from the rear three-quarters. The ground clearance of 168 mm ensures the GT TSI is fit for most Indian roads. Overall, the car retains its classic, sober design and the subtle changes add to the sportiness of the new car. The paint quality and attention to detail is among the best you will find in a hatchback in India.
Open the door and the GT badging on the doorstep welcomes you, followed by all-black interiors, which is impeccably put together. What especially attracts attention is the new flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, which adds to the sportiness of the car. Besides the audio controls on the steering wheel, you can now use voice command to connect your phone with the centre console. The accelerator and brake pedals get a metallic finish. The DSG gearbox not only gives the Indian consumers a brand new driving experience but looks good too. The instrument cluster gets a speedometer, an odometer and a rev counter. The driver’s seat gets height adjustment feature and the dual-tone front seats come with adjustable head restraints and folding backrests. The rear seating area, however, is not the best in class and three tall adults fit in rather uncomfortably.
The four-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is a solid performer. It generates a class-leading 105 PS of power—which translates into 103.6 bhp—and 175 Nm of torque, resulting in a power-packed performance of 0-100 kmph in less than 10 seconds. The top speed of the GT TSI is close to 190 kmph, remarkable for an engine this size. And this performance doesn’t come at the cost of fuel. The GT TSI has a claimed fuel-efficiency of 17.2 kmpl.
The first thing you will notice about the car is how quiet this modern engine is—at lower RPM, the engine is barely audible. The combination of TSI and DSG is a tested formula and the greatest strength of this car—slot into the ‘Drive’ mode, press the accelerator and in no time the DSG springs into action, changing gears at exactly the right time the engine demands, and takes the Polo GT TSI from 0-100 kmph in less than 10 seconds. Want more fun? Slot the gearbox into the ‘Sport’ mode and it changes gears at higher RPMs, thus giving you even better acceleration.
The car behaves well on bad roads and doesn’t tend to crash through potholes. The car goes around corners confidently even at high speeds. The new steering wheel not only looks smart, it has a lot of feel to it and offers you very good feedback. The car feels planted even when you are doing speeds above 140 kmph. However, Volkswagen should have given the car the cruise control mode—in fact, it is a big miss in a car with such an amazing gearbox. One more addition we would have liked is paddle shifters.
Last year when it was reported that some of the most popular compact cars sold in India failed crash tests done by Global NCAP, almost immediately Volkswagen announced dual front airbags as standard fitment on all variants of the Polo. That says something about the company’s commitment to safety. The GT TSI gets ample safety features such as dual front airbags as standard, anti-lock braking system, rear-parking sensors, electronic stabilisation programme and hill-hold function. However, we believe that in addition to rear-parking sensors there should have been a rear-parking camera too.
All power comes with a price. The Polo GT TSI, at Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), is seemingly high for a hatchback. In fact, at this price you can get the top variant of an entry-level sedan; however, what you won’t get is the very best in automobile technology. If your idea of a car is sensational yet economical performance, and if your idea of a car is ease of driving, you must take a good look at this machine. Value for money it may or may not be, but the GT TSI surely is a technology trendsetter in its segment.