When it comes to image and status no small car can quite match the Volkswagen(VW) Polo. But when it comes to performance, the Polo was a bit of a let down on some fronts. VW have addressed that once and for all with this, the GT TSi. With over 100bhp it truly is a keen drivers car, but is that enough for you to go for it?
The car hasn’t been changed from the outside except for minor details. For instance, you now get a newer set of headlamps, which have been blackened-out from the edges. There is a big GT-logo on the right side of the grille to give the car some pizzazz. And there are a couple of GT-TSI badges on the rear pillar as well as the rear hatch of the car but apart from that the car looks very similar to the regular Polo’s on the road. VW could have added a sportier set of alloys or given a newer set of tail lamps to make it look sporty atleast.
The Polo TSi comes in only one version, a fully loaded one at that. So the interior gets all the bells and whistles. You get climate control, stereo with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted audio and phone controls and an on-board trip computer as well. The steering adjusts for rake and reach and the driver’s seat adjusts for height as well, which means that finding a comfortable driving position is an easy affair. The rear seats offer good cushioning as well but the legroom isn’t very generous and the tall transmission tunnel means that the passenger in the middle won’t be very happy for long journeys.
The quality of materials used is absolutely first-rate and everything has been put together solidly with a built-to-last feel about it. Few other small cars can match the solidity of the Polo. The boot is well shaped too, and has enough space to haul a weekend’s worth of luggage for a small family.
On the flipside though, VW have used the same beige/black combo that it does on the regular version of the Polo, which simply doesn’t do justice to the sporty nature of this car. VW should have considered an all-black interior or offered leather seats as an option atleast.
Engine, transmission and performance
Power comes from a relatively puny 1.2-litre engine. But don’t be fooled by the small displacement, this engine is a powerhouse developing over 100bhp thanks to a turbo charger. And aiding it is a very good seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, which offers effortless shifts. The dual clutch ensures that you are never caught in the wrong gear with one clutch always being ready with a gear engaged. There is also a ‘S’ mode on offer, which holds the revs longer and shifts the gears up much later, making it the best bet for keen drivers. You can also use the gears manually by using the tiptronic mode.
The engine is silky smooth and simply loves to be revved. In fact, it goes all the way to its redline with no fuss giving you rapid acceleration. VW’s claimed 0-100kph times of under 11 seconds seem entirely believable on this car.
Ride and handling
VW have stiffened the suspension on this car and that means that the GT TSi offers supreme confidence, unlike any other small car, when on the open road. Doing three digit speeds for long hauls is never a problem with the suspension offering a very stable ride. The steering feels well weighed too and offers plenty of feedback from the wheels in the front. The stiff suspension means that body roll is never an issue. However, when driving at slow speeds within the city, the car does tend to jolt the occupants, with a sharp thud from the suspension. Some road undulations can be felt inside the cabin as well at slow city speeds but that’s the compromise you have to live with if you want agile handling.
Safety and equipment
You get twin airbags along with ABS as standard kit. VW also offers Hill hold function, which prevents the car from rolling backwards when starting off an incline. You also get Electronic Stability Control(ESP), a segment first, which helps you eliminate skidding incase the surfaces below are gravelly.
The Polo TSi comes with technology that you usually get in cars twice the price. So if you want a small car that offers premium performance along with a posh badge then this is your best choice in the small car segment.