Volkswagen Polo GTI

Stephen Dobie
23 Feb 2012
Volkswagen Polo GTI

VW squeezes almost 180bhp from the Polo's 1.4-litre engine, but are some owners paying a price in oil consumption?

You’re a helpful bunch. My request to hear your experiences of VW’s 1.4-litre TSI engine brought an impressive response – it seems quite a few of you own a Polo GTI, SEAT Ibiza Cupra or Skoda Fabia vRS with higher than anticipated oil consumption.

Responses were evenly spread across the three cars, with 1 litre of oil per 1500 miles the highest usage reported so far. While this still sits within the official VW allowance 
(1 litre per 1243 miles), some of you have had further problems: a couple of readers have told me about engine replacements for the known piston ring issue that serious oil use signifies, and one of those is now suffering oil woes with his second engine.

J4 VWW is consuming around 1 litre every 4500 miles (a trip to Halfords needed again this month), which is more than I’ve experienced with any previous car, but still a long way from causing serious concern. One thought occurs to me. With everything else about the Polo being so finely honed, could a thirst for oil be the result of wringing nearly 180bhp from a diddy 1.4 engine?

Volkswagen’s response to my (and your) concerns was this: ‘Where Polo GTI owners (and owners of the equivalent Skoda and SEAT) are experiencing high oil consumption, they should contact their local retailer to arrange for the vehicle to be checked and if necessary to be repaired in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.’ No word on just how many cars have been afflicted by piston ring faults and the copious oil consumption they bring, but we’re assured it’s a small number and limited to an early batch of 178bhp TSI units.

I’ve discovered something else about the Polo this month, after managing to squeeze 55 litres of fuel into the GTI’s claimed 45-litre fuel tank. There’s effectively a 10-litre expansion area for the petrol, which is opened via a small button that’s pressed in when you close the filler cap. Certain nozzles can catch this while pumping fuel in, though, enabling a £70-plus fill.

It’s not recommended to use this extra capacity, but doing so got me from Wollaston to Heathrow and back (150 miles) without the fuel needle moving from full, the trip computer’s range function being bamboozled in the process.

Running Costs

Date acquired June 2011
Total mileage 13,542
Costs this month £16 (1 litre of oil)
Mileage this month 1767
MPG this month 37.6

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