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.


If you had to sum up the VW GTI in one word, it would be “quick”. While there obviously is a lot more to it, the quickness stands out like Helvetica on a page of Times New Roman. On straights, around bends, up mountain curlies, down B-roads, VW’s latest just powers on. It isn’t surprising, considering the car is pulled by 192 horses and weighs just 1273kg, but it certainly is hair-raising.

My rant, I am sure, fails miserably at painting a clear picture of the GTI, so let’s take a step back and deconstruct this hopped-up hatch.

What is it?

The ‘GTI’ tag on the grille, flank and boot informs you that while this may look like an ordinary Polo, it is actually a feral, adrenaline-rush-inducing machine. These three letters first adorned a VW grille way back in 1975, and they have left behind a trail of rubber marks ever since. GTI is to VW what AMG is to Mercedes or Abarth to Fiat, a shot in the arm of sorts that transforms ordinary vehicles into rubber-burning and air-splitting speed machines.

So what does it mean when these three letters are slapped onto a regular Polo? For starters, the car loses the ‘Polo’ tag, to become the VW GTI in order to clearly distinguish it from its more mundane sibling. More importantly, though, the engine bay is filled by a four-cylinder, 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine, essentially the same one that can be found under the Skoda Octavia’s hood, tuned to belt 192hp and 250Nm of torque. Then, a electronic differential lock is strapped on and hooked up to the stability control system to make it difficult for the car to misbehave. If that weren’t enough, the anti-roll bars are stiffened and suspension beefed up.

The India-spec GTI also gets the seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox, which means that upshifts are executed in 8 milliseconds with bare minimal torque losses, and rides on larger and wider 215/45 R16 wheels for that extra grip when you take a corner at speeds you really should not have taken it with.

That the Polo GTI is understated is an understatement. In many ways, it looks just like a regular Polo. True, it, sits on larger wheels, comes with just three doors instead of five, features slick LED headlamps and redesigned tail-lamps and bears a differently designed grille, but these are nuances that will be missed by those who don’t scrutinise automobiles with stalker-like obsession. The cabin too is very Polo-like, except for the flat-bottomed steering wheel with it red cross-stitching and ‘GTI’ logo and tartan racing seats.

Also, to our disappointment, the India-spec GTI does not get the reduced ground clearance or increased track of its European counterpart. That, combined with the 16-inch wheels (the European GTI gets 17-inchers as standard; these are optional in India) takes away from the aggressiveness of the GTI, though both of these characteristics are bound to be appreciated on our bad roads and monster speed breakers.

Fact File


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


Gearbox 7-speed DSG


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

Chassis & Body

Weight 1273 Kg
Tyres 215/45 R16


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


Our reviews of the Tata Tigor, the Honda WR-V, the Audi A5 Cabriolet, comparison of the Audi A4 diesel and its rivals and plenty more await you inside.
What's in this issue?

Trending Now
Find a car review

Latest Car Reviews

2016 Renault Kwid long term review, final report

2016 Renault Kwid long term review, final report

2 days ago
The Kwid’s job here is done. We look at what impressed us and what...
2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive review, test drive

2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive review, test drive

4 days ago
Porsche has jumped on the long-wheelbase bandwagon in India with the...
2017 BMW 5-series India review, test drive

2017 BMW 5-series India review, test drive

6 days ago
BMW gives us an early taste of the all-new 5-series on Indian roads. Shapur...
Maruti Vitara Brezza long term review, second report

Maruti Vitara Brezza long term review, second report

6 days ago
Our Brezza gets a bells and whistles upgrade.
2017 Tata Tigor review, test drive

2017 Tata Tigor review, test drive

Mar 19, 2017
With an emphasis on style, the new Tata Tigor is a refreshingly different...
Latest News
Next-gen Aston Martin Vantage to use AMG V8 engines
A V12 version of the next-gen Vantage is also due, using the same 5.2-litre...
18 hours ago   1 picture
McLaren previews F1-inspired hyper-GT
The three-seat model will bring hybrid tech back to a McLaren road car for...
21 hours ago   1 picture
Mercedes-AMG E43 4Matic to launch in India in 2018
Sporty AMG E43 is powered by a 401hp, 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine....
1 day 13 hours ago   1 picture
Hamilton beats Vettel to Australian GP pole
Bottas and Raikkonen make up row two of the grid.
1 day 14 hours ago   1 picture
2017 VW Touareg spied undisguised
New spy picture of the five-seat Touareg reveals the car's full front-end...
1 day 16 hours ago   1 picture

Autocar Magazine

Issue: 212 | Autocar India: April 2017

Our reviews of the Tata Tigor, the Honda WR-V, the Audi A5 Cabriolet, comparison of the Audi A4 diesel and its rivals and plenty more await you inside.
Autocar Magazine
Latest Poll
What should Peugeot do with the Ambassador brand it acquired recently?

or View results
Revive the old car
Launch a new car with Amby's retro styling
Use the name for a low-cost brand
Nothing, Ambassador should have been left to the history books

Vote now
View previous Polls »