Sporting some new exterior styling updates and some on-board tech passed down from larger cars in the Volkswagen range, the facelifted Polo GTI is now available to order.
The revisions to the Volkswagen Polo GTI are part of a mid-life facelift for the whole sixth-generation Polo range. Regular Polo models have already arrived in the UK, with the updated GTI due to join them early in the new year.
There are no genuine surprises here. Volkswagen continues to target buyers who prefer their hot hatch to prioritise comfort and refinement over the more raucous driving excitement found in the likes of the Hyundai i20 N or Ford Fiesta ST.
Exterior styling tweaks
The most obvious new element of the Polo GTI’s styling is an LED headlight upgrade, with the lights now extending a little deeper into the bumper below. The red strip across the grille is now illuminated by a LED crossbar, these changes having already appeared on Volkswagen’s bigger and newer models, such as the facelifted Golf GTI and the ID.3.
The Polo GTI has also taken inspiration from the Golf GTI for its new bumper designs in the front and rear, and the rear LED headlights have a new shape, as they now extend further into the tailgate.
Wheels are the same size but with new patterns, with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard and 18-inch versions available at extra cost.
Under the hood
The updated Volkswagen Polo GTI is still powered by the same 2.0-litre petrol engine that was introduced for this model in 2018, but with some additional tuning changes to up the power output. The 2021 Polo GTI produces 207hp, 10hp more than both the 2018 Polo GTI and its key rival, the Ford Fiesta ST. As before, the only available gearbox is a seven-speed automatic transmission.
This means that the new Polo GTI has a slightly improved 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds, which is incrementally better than the pre-facelift time of 6.7 seconds.
Interior and tech
Unsurpisingly, much of the Polo GTI’s interior remains the same as before, featuring the familar thatched pattern design on the seats and a red two-tone dashboard. However, the door panels and dashboard now get additional lighting.
The dashboard layout also remains identical, but the ten-inch digital display behind the steering column is now standard. Volkswagen has also added touch-sensitive buttons to the steering wheel to control speaker volume and other settings, similar to what you’ll find in the electric ID.3.
The Polo GTI now also features adaptive cruise control and lane self-centring for the first time. These features are packaged together in what Volkswagen calls ‘Travel Assist tech’. In a nutshell, it means that the car will steer itself as required to stay in its lane, even around bends, but you still need to keep your hands on the wheel.
Continuing its partnership with Beats Electronics, Volkswagen also offers a six-speaker Beats sound system as an optional extra for the Polo GTI. A panoramic roof and a wireless phone charging pad are other notable options also available for extra cost.
The 2021 Volkswagen Polo GTI is now on sale in the UK with prices starting at £26,430, which is roughly £2,000 more than the pre-facelift version.
That also means that the Polo GTI is more expensive than its key competitors – the Hyundai i20 N is available from £24,995, while you can currently pick up a new (but soon to be faclifted) Ford Fiesta ST for £21,955.
With all the additional extras on offer added to the price, including a panoramic roof, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, keyless entry, the Beats sound system and the upgraded ‘DiscoverPro’ infotainment package that allows you to surf the internet, the new Polo GTI can cost as much as £31,000. That’s more expensive than the bigger and more powerful Ford Focus ST.
As of November 2021, the current Polo GTI has an Expert Rating of 68%, which is some way behind the class-leading Ford Fiesta ST (86%) and the Hyundai i20 N (85%). With a bit more kit but no real changes to the way the car drives, we don’t expect the facelift to bring the Polo significantly closer to the class leaders.