First Drive

2016 Volkswagen Polo GTI India review, test drive

We get behind the wheel of VW India's hottest hatch ever and unleash its 192 horses.

DETAILS
18
photos

What is it like to drive?

The GTI’s appeal really unravels when you slide into the driver seat, tip the gearstick into ‘S’, wrap your hands around the steering wheel and flex your right leg real nice. There is a slight hesitation when you depress the accelerator, before the car really takes off. This is because when the car is at a standstill, the DSG gearbox engages the second gear with one clutch and pre-selects the reverse with the other (the first gear and reverse gear are on the same shaft, and hence cannot be selected by the same clutch, making the selection of the second gear an acceptable compromise). When the car is in kickdown, the first clutch plate deselects the reverse gear and engages the first, causing the slight hesitation; after this, power flows like water through the sluices of a post-monsoon dam. Turbo lag is barely noticeable and peak torque kicks in as early as 1,450rpm, ensuring that the car pulls well enough in the lower rev range. As you climb higher into the rev band, and you do so rather quickly, you notice that the power delivery is meaty but linear all the way from mid-range until the 6,400rpm redline. What is most striking though is the responsiveness of the engine and throttle. Gently nudge the accelerator at any given point of time and the GTI eagerly lunges forward.

Equally sensitive are the brakes. The all-round discs have plenty of bite, so much so that many will find it a task getting used to them. Acclimatise yourself to them though, and you find out how adept they are shedding speed or bringing the car to a complete standstill.

The kinetic experience is augmented by the auditory performance – the exhaust note spat from the twin exhausts round the back is not particularly loud, but it is crisp and sporty. Under hard acceleration, every upshift is accompanied by a satisfying snort and every downshift by a bassy ‘bop’.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox feels like a perfect match for the engine. It is eager and aggressive, upshifting in mere milliseconds, and downshifting willingly (though with a bit of shift shock) when the throttle is depressed hard. In ‘S’ mode (I highly recommend you stick to this for maximum grins), the gearbox obstinately holds revs until the redline and drops ratios quite happily. In ‘D’ mode, upshifts are executed slightly earlier and the sensitivity of the throttle is reduced, to make the car more amiable to drive in tighter spaces such as parking spots and traffic. The algorithm underpinning its ECU is adaptive in nature, which means that the gearbox adapts to your style of driving and changes ratios accordingly. In fact, the DSG does such a great job that you don’t miss the engagement offered by a manual box.

The engine and the gearbox work together to create an impressive repertoire of numbers – 0-100kph is achieved in a claimed 7.2sec, and the speedo needle will spin to a lofty 233kph.

Punching out power is one thing; putting it to the roads is a whole different ballgame, and one that the Polo GTI plays well. Enter a corner at high speeds and you will be surprised by the amount of grip offered and containment of body roll. The nose is a tad hesitant to point into a corner, but beyond that, the Polo GTI goes round bends with remarkable neutrality. It feels composed and tight, gripping onto the road like a barnacle onto a sea-washed rock. In fact, you have to try very, very hard to make the GTI depart from the line you have selected.

The steering adds to the great handling – it is quick, accurate and well-weighted, offering adequate feedback, and while there is a bit of torque steer, it is quite well-contained, especially when you consider the power being belted out by the engine.

The GTI’s handling is complemented by its suspension. While on the firmer side, it is surprisingly pliant. Its sporty setup may have been softened up slightly to deal with India’s poor roads, and while an enthusiast may dislike the absence of a properly taut ride, the ability to tackle bumps, lumps and crests will definitely be appreciated over time. The ride is reasonably absorbent at both low and high speeds, though I did feel the car unsettle a bit when driven over bad roads at a faster pace.

Fact File

Engine

Fuel Petrol
Type 1798cc, 4 cyls, turbocharged
Bore/stroke 82.5 x 84.1 mm
Power 192hp at 5400-6200rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1250-5300rpm

Transmission

Gearbox 7-speed DSG

Dimensions

Length 3976mm
Width 1682 mm
Height 1452 mm
Wheel base 2468 mm

Chassis & Body

Weight 1273 Kg
Tyres 215/45 R16

Economy

Tank size 45 litres
See more about:  volkswagen polo gti review
comments powered by Disqus

notSet

We’ve exclusively driven the Jeep Compass in India, tell you what the all-new SsangYong Rexton is like, give our first impressions of the third-gen Maruti Dzire and have driven all of Lexus’ India cars. And there’s plenty more inside!
What's in this issue?

Trending Now
Find a car review

Latest Car Reviews

2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire review, test drive

2017 Maruti Suzuki Dzire review, test drive

2 days ago
Bigger, lighter and better, the new Dzire compact sedan is more grown up...
2017 SsangYong G4 Rexton review, test drive

2017 SsangYong G4 Rexton review, test drive

5 days ago
The next-generation Rexton seems to have all that it takes to break into a...
2017 Audi A5 Cabriolet review, test drive

2017 Audi A5 Cabriolet review, test drive

May 19, 2017
You don’t always need perfect weather to enjoy a convertible, says...
2016 Hyundai Elantra petrol long term review, second report

2016 Hyundai Elantra petrol long term review, second report

May 15, 2017
It drives effortlessly and offers a real dash of luxury.
2017 Isuzu MU-X review, test drive

2017 Isuzu MU-X review, test drive

May 12, 2017
Could Isuzu finally have a credible rival to the Fortuner and Endeavour with...
Latest News
Frankfurt debut for Mercedes electric hatchback
The concept will preview the carmaker’s planned VW ID-rivaling EQ A...
3 hours ago   1 picture
Mercedes, Audi, BMW pass on GST benefits to customers
Mercedes cuts prices by up to 9 percent; BMW, Audi announce sales and...
7 hours ago   1 picture
New vehicle testing facility opens in Chennai
The facility houses five types of test tracks and full-fledged homologation...
7 hours ago   1 picture
600hp Jaguar XE SV Project 8 revealed
The collectors’ edition model is the most powerful road model that...
11 hours ago   2 pictures
2017 F1 Connectivity Innovation contest kicks off
The first challenge, set by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, explores the...
1 day 1 hour ago   1 picture

Autocar Magazine

Issue: 214 | Autocar India: June 2017

We’ve exclusively driven the Jeep Compass in India, tell you what the all-new SsangYong Rexton is like, give our first impressions of the third-gen Maruti Dzire and have driven all of...
Autocar Magazine
Latest Poll
Which of these big SUV's would you buy?




or View results
Toyota Fortuner
  27%
 
Ford Endeavour
  51%
 
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
  7%
 
Isuzu MU-X
  15%
TOTAL VOTES: 1781

Vote now
View previous Polls »