By on September 18, 2014

vw_p260gti_drv_003

At 155 inches long, the current Volkswagen Polo fits neatly in between the size of the MK1 and MK2 Volkswagen GTI hatchbacks. That’s a foot shorter than the current MK7, and in GTI trim, an enticing competitor to the Ford Fiesta ST.

For 2015, the Polo GTI gets a nice bump in power. Out goes the nifty twincharged 1.4L 4-cylinder, in favor of VW’s corporate 1.8L turbo mill. With 189 horsepower and about 2600 lbs to move around, the Polo GTI just nips the Fiesta ST to 60 mph (6.7 seconds, versus 6.9 for the Ford) while offering a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG, as well as a nicer looking interior.

Unfortunately, the Polo GTI is not in the cards for North America. A shame, since the new MK7 platform has now morphed into something beyond a mere compact hatchback in terms of size. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth have both shown that there is a market for hot hatches that are still small in stature. And for all its technical brilliance, the GTI, as Jack mentioned, just lacks that ineffable quality that puts a smile on your face – something that the Fiesta ST has in spades. The economics of importing a subcompact for sale in America are likely tough to justify for VW, but that won’t stop me from lusting after a Polo GTI.

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51 Comments on “A Hot Hatch Polo Match...”


  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Too bad we won’t get this. The Fiesta ST is supposedly a very decent car, but I would be much more interested in a Honda or VW version of the the smaller hot hatch formula.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Likewise. The Fiesta’s styling and interior just scream “I’m not going to age well!”

      I know conservative Honda are afraid of having their cute, friendly hatch associated with the ricerboyz and street racing, but it’s odd that they haven’t even hinted at a Fit Si. Mini, Fiat, Ford, etc. have all managed to keep the qualities of their mundane volume sellers separate from the performance versions, so why not Honda? I’d buy one, especially if they came with the K24 from the sporty Civic, and the price was shy of $25k.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have a Fiesta, easy. As Derek mentioned Jack saying, the Fiesta maintains that ineffable quality the Polo has “always” lacked. The Fiesta will age very well on the outside, inside is another matter. But it still looks better to me than the Polo’s, which is just business as usual and boring.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lol oh come on Marcelo!

        The Fiesta is too trendy and of the moment. All the little spoilers and fender lips and huge gaping mouth grille. It’s going to age as well as a Neon SRT or a Beretta GTZ. It’s far too specific to age gracefully.

        And since you might not know a GTZ, here’s a couple.

        http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/1859/1021/4645510005_large.jpg?v=0

        http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2009/03/16/02/36/1990_chevrolet_beretta_2_dr_gtz_coupe-pic-25023.jpeg

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Corey,

          I think you’re right that the Fiesta ST will not age well, because I personally think its ugly.

          But those Berettas are HAWT.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I shall clarify here that I don’t have a PROBLEM with the design, per say. It has rear full-width lamp assembly which is a big plus for me, and I like coupes.

            But within the design it’s very narrowly focused. It was current only for a very particular (think 5 year) time span.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I have to say, I really don’t understand the concept of designs “aging.”

            A car comes out, I generally either like it or I don’t. If I like it when it came out, I look at it so many years later and still like it.

            In fact, the only thing that significantly affects my view of a car’s design is when the new one comes out, and then I say “wow, compared to this, the last gen doesn’t look so bad.” For example, the 2010-2014 Sonata makes the 04-09 Sonata look stately and handsome.

            Anyone else think like this?

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Corey, ALL new car designs are “trendy and of the moment.” How they look as they age is a matter of personal taste. I’ll agree with your assessment of the Beretta, it has so many hints of GM designs gone by and elements from the corporate parts bin as to be a joke of a design.

          I have to disagree about the Neon, which could probably still sell well with an updated drive train. The overall exterior is still a good package. The Fiesta looks like it’ll stay current over time, but as Marcelo opines, only on the outside. Ford has to save money somewhere, and recent (and not so recent) Ford interiors seem to be where the pennies are saved.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t agree that all designs are trendy and of the moment. Some cars (though usually not small/cheap ones) are designed to look good “generally” and age well. They don’t have trendy flim-flam.

            Example:
            98 RX300 vs. 98 Santa Fe. One was on trend with lots of curvy cladding and bubble styling. One was more discrete, and it’s still looking good today.

            96 Town Car vs. 98 Town Car. One has long lines and simple adornment with limited flim-flam. The later version is roundy and attempted to be very current. Now it looks ancient, and the 96 looks graceful.

            03 Range Rover vs. 14 Range Rover. No longer graceful and blocky by design, it’s gone to trendy LEDs and weird trim strips swooping along the sides. This won’t age well.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t mind the gaping mouth at all Corey, not the way it’s done on the Fiesta. And in an age of Elantras and Sonatas (post-Bangle), I think the creases on the Fiesta are quite subdued. Anyway, I always tend to like the design of the normal versions over the “hot” ones. But car per car, I like the way the Fiesta handles better. And I do think the interior in the Fiesta is more interesting, though you could be right and the boring Polo interior might age better.

          The Neon? Same thing. I always liked the look of that car. Again, normal versions are much better and the sports one is too much for me. The Beretta, just not me!

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The Polo has grown up! Previous Polo GTI’s where a bit lame but then so where previous GTI’s. That it is a bit quicker than the Fiesta says much as the GTI is not as quick as the Focus, although I suspect the GTI handles better than the Focus. Regardless lots of good things happening at this end of the market.
    Given the downsizing (rightsizing) trend in the US, I think it’s more like when than if, that VW brings the Polo State side.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      With VWs publicly stated aggressive sales goals, you’d almost think they would bring all their guns to the biggest (still, I believe) gunfight of them all. The Golf/GTI/Mazda3/Focus class of hatches are pretty much ideal as far as size goes, practicality and utility wise. But they’re still too big to be genuinely fun, no matter how good they have now gotten.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Hey DK,

    Would you mind elaborating a bit on what would make you prefer this over the Golf GTI? While the larger GTI has certainly grown, its not exactly a land yacht.

    Is it:
    a) the lower cost of entry?
    b) smaller cars are more fun? (ie Focus ST vs Fiesta ST)
    c) Toronto parking?
    d) some or all of the above?

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Derek, as a happy owner of a 2015 GTI, I’ve perhaps been missing some ineffable quality, but I can tell you for a fact that it’s a hell of a lot more fun to drive than any Audi or Passat I’ve ever owned. I guess there’s always going to be a car that’s more exciting than the one you own, but I think the recent review of the GTI in the New York Times was pretty much on the mark about the GTI’s sterling qualities.

    • 0 avatar

      It is a remarkable car, probably the best all-around performance car at any price. But I’m young, on a budget and don’t particularly need the space of the GTI. Also, the configurations in Canada make it a much more expensive proposition than in the USA (5-door SE only, no performance pack for $32k).

    • 0 avatar

      @Jeff Waingrow, just like the Golf is funner than the Passat and most Audis, so is the Polo more fun than the Golf, if you like that kind of car. Being smaller and lighter than the Golf, it shows.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        Agree fully. And if fun is the top priority, go small. But if you need the car for a lot of different reasons and circumstances, that smallness can at times start to look like a distinct liability. The obvious solution is to have a Golf GTI and a Polo GTI. There, that was easy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    We need this. We need more performance cars under 3,000 lbs in general.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Wow, this sure could be a mistaken for a Golf GTI from the picture. And that comment contains the answer for why they are not importing it to the US. The marketing team don’t know what to call it if they do :)

    [in europe they have the “polo gti” and the “golf gti” (as well as the “polo” and the “golf”, while in the US they have the “golf” and the “gti”]

    More seriously, “the Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth have both shown that there is a market for hot hatches that are still small in stature” – the question really is how big is that market? The Fiat 500 is sort of in its own niche (somewhat like the mini), and actually a size smaller than the polo so not likely to be cross shopped. The Fiesta ST is direct competition, but that is justified by availability of the Fiesta. VW will likely look at is as a decision to import the polo first and then the GTI later, but maybe of the opinion there is not enough room in the market for the Polo right now and that they would rather sell a Golf/GTI instead.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      This is true, the name alone is an issue. I’d dare say it would be fitting to rename the Golf GTI and let the Polo take its place. Or create a sub-brand called GTI (a la AMG, SRT, BMW M, etc) and offer both models plus the Scirocco (and maybe a performance Tiguan if they must).

  • avatar

    I’d love to see this available here but given the option of offering this in the USA or offering the Scirocco, I’d prefer VW to opt for the latter. The Scirocco would fill a void left by the sporty and defunct EOS.

    Also, am interested to learn the Polo is still slightly smaller than the Mk II GTI I had 20+ years ago. This new one is a slick looker, a tidy package, and loads of options probably exist for performance mods.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think my favorite thing is how the red bar on the grille detail extends into the headlamp cluster. I haven’t seen that before, and I REALLY like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The ’15 Golf GTI has that as well.

      I’m a scorned ex-MKV GTI owner, but the ’15 Golf GTI was good enough that I was almost willing to forgive and forget. I really, really enjoyed my test drive of a base model w/ DSG. The attention to detail and linearity of the powertrain and chassis really made me prefer it over the WRX. The lure of RWD was too much. Finishing order was: FR-S/BRZ, GTI, WRX. I’ve had the FR-S for 4 weeks and 1700 miles now. I made the right choice.

  • avatar
    Gato

    If VW is bringing the Polo and the Polo GTI to Mexico, I wonder why they won’t sell it in USA, too. Here the Polo GTI’s list price (1.8T/DSG/leather) is about $23k at the current retail exchange rate. Audi A1 seems to be much more popular here, I think because of the badge and the starting price ($21k for a manual).

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Not having to re-engineer the car in compliance with FMVSS might have something to do with it. It’s probably a lot easier to bring over the cars to Mexico than to US.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Although the new 1.8TSI is reportedly very good, sad about the demise of the twincharged unit.

    I have a bit of a thing for unique motors. I’d love to have a collection including an RX8, a VR6 anything, a twincharged unit, a 3900 (first cam-in-block motor with VVT,) a 300-6 with the HD heads used in dumptruck applications, etc.

  • avatar
    natrat

    tuned s1 quattro would be pretty mental or better yet a street version of the wrc polo rally car, drool

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    If this were for sale in the U.S., I would buy one tomorrow. In silver. Just like my old 83.

    As others have pointed out, the Fiesta in concept is nice, and it sounds like a good fun drive, but the styling, the proportions, just don’t do it for me.

    But this Polo I like a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The make or break in the Fiesta is the Recaro seats. If you love them, all styling sins are forgiven and even make some weird kind of sense. While all other contenders seem rather dull. But if you don’t love them, they’re just the obnoxiously gratuitous gilding of an already garish lily.

      Come to think of it, the Recaros in the CTS-V has a similarly polarizing effect on people. And they’re nowhere near as “hardcore”, or “boy racer’ish” if you wish, as the ones in the ST.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Bring it. Please.

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