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Thanks to a raft of enhancements, Volkswagen's supermini-sized GTI, more than ever before, exudes all of the qualities that have made those three iconic letters so successful over the course of nearly 50 years.
The GTI follows the launch of the revised sixth-generation Polo range earlier this year, and takes pride of place as its flagship. The new model features revised styling, even more equipment, plus improved safety - and even brings premium-car technology to the supermini segment.
At the heart of every GTI is its engine, and that is true of the new range-topping Polo. Its 2.0-litre (1,984 cc) four-cylinder turbocharged TSI petrol power plant produces a peak power figure of 207 PS, along with maximum torque of 320 Nm - the latter consistently between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm. Allied to a super-responsive 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG), the new Volkswagen Polo GTI is capable of sprinting from standstill to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds, before attaining a top speed of 149 mph (where permitted).
Power, however, is nothing without control. To that end, the new Volkswagen Polo GTI combines a dynamic chassis with sophisticated systems to assist both stability and driver enjoyment. Uprated running gear includes a larger front anti-roll bar, more rigid coupling rods at the front and stiffer axle-locating mounts at the rear. In addition, the GTI's body is lowered by 15 mm compared with other Polo models.
Also improving cornering precision is the standard-fit XDS electronic differential lock which, if necessary, controls brake pressure on the front wheel on the inside of a bend, thereby preventing it from spinning and - in extreme situations - can even help to prevent loss of control of the vehicle.
XDS is part of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and traction control systems. Further aiding driver involvement is Adaptive Chassis Control DCC, including Driving Profile Selection. With this feature, the driver is able to activate two different damping characteristics for the adjustable shock absorbers. Driving profile selection comes as standard with the new Polo GTI and offers four modes of Eco, Individual, Normal and Sport. Within defined limits, the modes allow the driver to make individual settings that have a direct effect on vehicle dynamics. For example, the steering, engine characteristic and DSG shift patterns are adapted, depending on the selected profile. In Sport mode, the exhaust system is automatically modified to make it sound sportier, a feature that can also be selected in the configurable Individual driving profile.
The new VW Polo GTI is now fitted as standard with Volkswagen's innovative IQ.LIGHT LED matrix headlights, bringing big-car tech to the small-car sector. This advanced system is joined by an illuminated radiator grille crossbar as a highly distinctive complement to the daytime running lights. With this styling cue, the newcomer creates a visual connection to the latest Volkswagen models such as the ID. electric range, as well as the latest Golf.
Elsewhere, the most obvious GTI visual signifiers at the front of the new model remain the eye-catching red GTI badge, the honeycomb air intake grilles, and the red trim above the LED daytime running lights strip.
Newly designed LED tail lights are the most conspicuous visual change at the rear. These extend well towards the middle of the tailgate and now feature dynamic indicators. Meanwhile, new GTI-specific bumpers result in an even more confident and wider stance for the revised hot hatch, bolstered in profile by the red-painted brake callipers.
Inside, as one would expect, the Volkswagen Polo GTI leaves no doubt as to its special status. Stylishly confident without being brash, this new flagship model remains faithful to the GTI philosophy. For example, the roof pillars and headliner are trimmed in Titanium Black, with red contrasting stitching applied throughout the interior.
The sports seats feature the legendary 'Jacara' check pattern, with sports comfort seats in ArtVelours material available as an option. Most strikingly, the dash panel is now finished as standard in eye-catching Kings Red Glossy. Alternatively, it can also be ordered in a more subdued Deep Iron Glossy hue.
As in the rest of the Polo range, the GTI's instruments and Infotainment system are located on one visual axis for easier assimilation, and the 10.25-inch screen of the Digital Cockpit Pro system boasts higher pixel density, better contrast and more intense colours.
Every Volkswagen Polo GTI comes as standard with the Discover Media Navigation system latest-generation Infotainment system with high-resolution 8.0-inch display. Optional extras include a Beats Sound System with six speakers, subwoofer, 300 w power output and 8-channel amplifier.
The extensive equipment list comprises additional curtain airbags at the front and rear - now including a centre airbag - background lighting in the door trims and dash panel; 2zone electronic air conditioning with an upgraded digital control unit; DSG paddles on the leather multifunction sports steering wheel; 17-inch 'Parker' alloy wheels (with 18-inch 'Faro' versions as an option); 'Light and Sight' pack (featuring, among other items, automatic headlight control; Coming/Leaving Home light function; rain-sensing wipers; and auto-dimming rear-view mirror).
Exterior paint colours offered on the VW Polo GTI comprise Pure White; Deep Black Pearl; Kings Red Metallic; Reef Blue Metallic; and Smokey Grey Metallic. Additionally, there is an eye-catching black-roof option available to combine with the white, red and blue paint options listed above.
Lisa Hartley, Polo Product Manager at Volkswagen UK, said: "The marriage of 'Volkswagen' and 'GTI' kicked off in 1975 with the launch of the now legendary Golf Mk I GTI. Since then, those hallowed three letters have adorned many other models such as the Scirocco, Lupo and up!. However, it is the Polo - whose GTI model debuted in 1998 - that is, after the Golf, the longest running member of this sporting family. Continuing this illustrious history is this newest version of our pocket-rocket, and it really is the best so far. With driver-focussed dynamics, a powerful 207 PS turbocharged engine, big-car tech, a generous list of standard equipment, and classy, assertive yet understated looks, the new Polo GTI is a class act among hot hatches."