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Pete's Polo GT TSI and Polo 1.6

17th Aug 2013 6:50 pm

Pete's Performance has had a go at the recently launched Polo GT TSI, and brought along a quicker Polo 1.6 as well. We find out how good they are.


Well, that didn’t take long, did it? Barely a month after Volkswagen launched the Polo GT TSI, Pete’s Performance hooked it up to a laptop, scrutinised its brains and gave it a slight ego massage. The moody black car you see is the result.

And for those who bought the Polo 1.6 and aren’t ready to trade up yet, we have with us the white car. It too has been fettled at Pete’s technical centre in Kochi and, going by the sound of its rorty free-flow exhaust, there’s plenty of promise.

Our test conditions today are almost perfect. The standard Polo GT TSI is still fresh in my mind from the Mumbai drive, Pete’s has taken police permission to close a road for us to test on, we are at sea level and the cool, pre-monsoon weather is nothing like the draining humidity of the Kochi I grew up in. And after we are done with the acceleration tests, the plan is to head to the hills through some of Kerala’s brilliantly surfaced back roads. Shall we get at it then?


Pete calls it a Stage I remap and that means it makes a claimed 20bhp more. Before I start though, I can’t help but admire the way this car looks. In addition to the ECU remap, this car runs a Bilstein B14, height-adjustable suspension, Tarox disc brakes up front and a stunning wheel and tyre package that sits slightly outside the body thanks to the H&R spacer kit. It looks tasteful, suitably understated and incredibly cool.

Step into the bog standard interiors, twist the key and the engine settles into a smooth idle, identical to the standard GT TSI. Feed in some throttle and you’ll notice a bump up in bottom-end torque that flows smoothly into a noticeably stronger mid-range as the turbo works its magic. The top-end isn’t as strong though and feels much like a stock GT, and it’s probably why the 0-100kph time of the remapped GT is just 0.3sec quicker than the stock GT’s. So while it feels like Pete’s has turned the wick up by around 10 to 15 percent in the lower half of the powerband, flat-out performance is hardly affected. Also, it could have been quicker if not for the tricky-to-launch gearbox.

So while the acceleration times might be disappointing, it’s in everyday driving that Pete’s magic shows up on the GT TSI – the healthier bottom end and the stronger mid-range really make the car feel more muscular – a fact confirmed on the road to the Periyar sanctuary, east of Kochi. On these narrow roads, you need quick responses from the engine to overtake, tight body control and plenty of understeer-resisting grip to really make the most of it, and that’s exactly what you get.

The B14s and wide tyres do just that. Gone is the slop of the stock GT’s suspension, and in its place is a well-controlled, nicely setup suspension. The ride doesn’t go for a toss either – sure, it is firmer but never gets uncomfortable. We would get rid of the spacers though – with them on, the 45-profile tyres kept hitting the wheel arches when the suspension compressed.

With the gearbox set in manual mode, you have good control over gearshifts to help you make full use of the engine’s stronger mid-range. This, along with the improved body control and strong brakes, makes this GT a lot more fun to hustle than the standard car. More so because the standard GT’s brakes do feel a bit weak as they are, and the Tarox rotors and calipers on this car have sharper initial bite and strong stopping power after. It’s just that we did notice a bit of brake fade after hard use, accompanied by a faint grinding noise. Normal services resume after we let them cool off for a bit.

Polo 1.6

From the off, the 1.6 has a displacement advantage and it’s got a manual gearbox – two things that only heighten the driving experience. Pete’s has remapped this car’s ECU and added a Green Cotton cold air intake kit as well as a free-flow exhaust – modifications he reckons bump up power by 18bhp. This car too has the B14 suspension on it, and Tarox brake rotors.

Move off the line and it doesn’t have the initial urge or the strong mid-range of the GT TSI. What it does have though is a strong top-end. It pulls really well after 5000rpm and on to its 6200rpm rev-limit, and that’s where all the difference comes in. The wide 215/40 R17 tyres and the manual gearbox really help you put the power down and the Polo 1.6 is even quicker than the GT TSI with a 10.5sec 0-100kph run. That time makes it one second faster than a stock Polo 1.6 and by 120kph, Pete’s 1.6 is a healthy two seconds ahead of the stock Polo 1.6. Very impressive!

The suspension setup is the same as on the GT as well, and both are running at identical ride heights, so the handling and the ride are pretty similar. If anything, it’s the electric steering that spoils the party a bit because it feels lifeless. Nonetheless, the Polo 1.6 is at least as much fun to drive, if not more, than the Polo GT TSI. And, with second-hand Polo 1.6s going for not too much money these days, it does look tempting, doesn’t it? 


Pick and choose

Truth be told, there’s little to separate the two Polos. And at Rs 2.5 lakh for the Polo GT TSI mods and Rs 2.4 lakh for the Polo 1.6, there’s not much difference on expense as well. 

It actually boils down to whether you have a Polo 1.6. Because if you do, and want quite a bit more zing, we suggest you let Pete’s have a go at it and revel in its manual transmission and added top-end performance. If you don’t have the 1.6 and you want a sporty hatch, then Pete’s GT TSI just might be that car for you.   

Stage 1 — Polo GT TSI

Pete’s custom remap:  Rs 32,000

Bilstein B14 suspension: Rs 1,14,000

Tarox brake rotors: Rs 34,500

17-inch Borbet RS wheels (each): Rs 18,000

Stage 1 — Polo 1.6

Pete’s custom remap: Rs 32,000

Bilstein B14 suspension: Rs 1,14,000

Green Cotton Storm filter kit: Rs 9,800

Custom full exhaust : Rs 14,000

17-inch Borbet LS wheels (each): Rs 18,000


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