Sprint Review: 2022 Volkswagen Polo GTi

What defines a modern hot hatch? In the old days, all you needed was a feisty engine in a small body with some go-faster bits. Nowadays you need a bit more though… 

You should know: The Golf GTi got too heavy and complicated a few generations ago, and some might argue that this Polo is heading the same way. Burdened with modern safety standards and consumer demands, this GTi is no longer a nimble little pocket rocket. It’s an extremely intricate medium-weight battle cruiser.

More info: I fondly remember the days of compact body panels, fizzy fuel injection motors and snappy manual gearboxes but – alas – we’ve all been infected by dreary trends. What we all want, apparently, is a tyre-shredding turbo torque motor and the most over-hyped nuisance of modern motoring: a DCT.

Why you shouldn’t: The dual-clutch (automated manual) transmission can pre-load gears, make Taco-Tuesday noises, and swap cogs faster than you can blink for that ultimate race-track thrill but is utterly hopeless at walking pace, delicate parking manoeuvres, or anything involving an incline.

The almost completely digital cockpit is another point of contention for more mature audiences as a lot of physical buttons have wondered into the abyss of the dashboard’s shiny touch-screen. If you’re into tech, you’ll love it. If you’re not, I suggest a night or two of heavy experimentation. Oh, and on the upside, at least this model has a physical volume knob.

Why you should: Besides the looks, name, status, fire power and toys… maybe even resale value? We might not get the full-fat Polo GTi as they do overseas but our local models come nicely spec’d with some more tasty options for you to choose. At 500k it’s not exactly cheap but it’s almost 200k cheaper than the Golf.

What else? The new Polo GTi is extremely refined, nasty tongues even accuse it of being numb, but thanks to the retention of its previous 147kW motor, the power delivery and torque are still manageable. So is fuel consumption. Included in the price is a 3-year/120,000km warranty and 45,000km service plan.

FULL SPECLIST

Engine:1998cc in-line 4-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission:6-speed DCT, FWD
Max. Power:147kW @ 4400rpm
Max. Torque:320Nm @ 1500rpm
Avg. cons.:Claimed 6.4L/100km
0-100km/h: seconds (claimed 6.7)
Top Speed:Claimed 238km/h
List Price:R495,000

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