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Expert Rating

Volkswagen Polo GTI

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Expert Rating

Volkswagen Polo GTI

(2017 - present)

    Summary


    Now in its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Polo GTI is the performance model at the top of the popular Polo range, which sits between the Up! GTI and Golf GTI in Volkswagen’s GTI line-up.

    The Polo GTI differentiates itself from the regular Polo range by donning its signature GTI flair, including additional badges, sportier bumpers, and a small roof spolier. Inside, the Polo GTI has the equipment levels of the standard Polo Life trim, and a thatched seat design unique to the GTI family.

    Under the hood, Volkswagen swapped out the regular Polo’s turbocharged 1.0-litre engine for a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit, similar to the engine found in a Mk6 Golf GTI. Only available as a seven-speed automatic, the Polo GTI produces 197hp, allowing it to get from 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds; almost four seconds faster than the regular 94hp model.

    A facelift for the whole Polo range was announced in Summer 2021, giving the Polo GTI an exterior design refresh and a few new tech editions ported from the Mk8 Golf, but this model update has been delayed, now expected to arrive in the UK in early 2022.

    Facing off against other small hot hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N, reviewers from the UK media generally agree that the Volkswagen Polo GTI is a strong competitor in its class; the hot hatch’s nippy performance, great build quality and good road manners recieving particular praise.

    However, many reviews conclude that the Polo GTI’s sensible nature is also its downfall. “This is as good as a fast Polo has been in living memory”, Top Gear comments, “and super close to the bigger Golf. But it’s not entirely free from the reputation that’s dogged it for generations – that it’s simply too grown up for a hot hatch of this size.”

    Honest John agree that the Polo GTI is not the best choice if you are looking for pure driving fun, but that it has its own charms that make it an attractive purchase on its own terms. “The Fiesta ST remains the default choice if you’re after a fun size hot hatchback, but the mature Polo GTI has a slow-burner appeal that you’ll grow to love.”

    As of June 2022, the Volkswagen Polo GTI holds an Expert Rating of 68%, which is several points behind the regular Polo range. A facelifted model is set to arrive in the UK very soon, so this could see the rating score move up or down by a few points as the updated model is reviewed by the UK motoring media.

    Polo GTI highlights

    • Capable all-rounder
    • Fastest Polo GTI ever
    • Practical interior almost as big as the Golf
    • Quality infotainment system

    Polo GTI lowlights

    • More mischievous hot hatches are better fun
    • More rigid ride quality than the regular Polo
    • Pricy compared to rivals
    • Rather high running costs

    Key specifications


    Body style: Small five-door hot hatch
    Engines: petrol
    Price: From £27,805 on-road

    Launched: Winter 2017/18
    Last updated: Spring 2022
    Next Update due: TBA


    Media reviews


    Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.

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    Motoring Research

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    Safety rating


    Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

    Overall score: 5 stars
    Date tested: March 2022
    Read the full Euro NCAP review

    Adult protection: 94%
    Child protection: 80%
    Vulnerable road users: 70%
    Safety assist: 70%

    Notes on safety rating

    The Volkswagen Polo GTI shares its Euro NCAP rating with the regular Polo range. The Polo was originally tested by Euro NCAP not long after it was launched in 2017 and was awarded a five-star rating.

    The facelifted 2021 Polo was re-tested, which saw it awarded a fresh five-star rating in Euro NCAP’s tougher new tests in March 2022. This rating will apply to the facelifted Polo GTI when it arrives in the UK.

    Eco rating


    Independent economy and emissions ratings from Green NCAP

    No eco rating

    As of June 2022, The Volkswagen Polo GTI has not been lab tested by Green NCAP.

    Reliability rating

    MotorEasy logo 600x167

    The Volkswagen Polo range (including the GTI) has a good reliability score of 64% as of June 2022, according to exclusive extended warranty data provided to The Car Expert by our partner MotorEasy. This covers both the current-generation Polo range and previous models.

    There’s no one area of concern for the Polo, with a number of claims across electrical systems, braking systems and suspension systems. Suspension repairs are more expensive than average, with an average repair cost of more than £800. Also of note are a few gearbox problems, for which the average repair bill was more than £1,100.

    If you’re looking at buying a used Volkswagen Polo GTI, make sure any extended warranty you purchase covers all of these potential problem areas.

    Similar cars


    If you’re looking at the Volkswagen Polo GTI, you might also be interested in these alternatives

    Ford Fiesta ST Hyundai i20 N | Mini Hatch John Cooper Works | Renault Megane RS | Suzuki Swift SportToyota GR Yaris | Volkswagen Up GTI

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    Volkswagen Polo GTIThe Volkswagen Polo GTI is a very well-built and mild-mannered small hot hatch that reviewers agree lacks the raw fun of its rivals.