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Volkswagen Polo GTI review – performance and 0-62 time

Competitive on-paper figures and flat power and torque curves correlate to a muscular feeling on the road

Evo rating
Price
from £28,905
  • Impressive mid-range grunt, competent daily driver
  • Handling is one-dimensional, adept but not exciting, firm ride

VW claims the Polo will rattle off the 0-62mph sprint in 6.5sec, a 0.2sec improvement compared to the last one. Yet, while it sometimes feels that quick when at the right revs, it’s not the most exciting way to make progress down a road, not in comparison to its main rivals, anyway.

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There’s plenty of muscle at low speeds, but torque is a little flat in the mid-range – it feels as if the car’s potential is being deliberately reined in so as not to tread on the toes of the Golf. One look at the torque band and you’ll notice that because the engine is relatively low-rated (VWs are pushing over 120bhp more from the same units in the latest Golf R), torque hits hard and stays there, making for good progress, but it doesn’t do much for the engine’s feeling of enthusiasm.

Admittedly, this is something that affects lots of contemporary turbocharged engines, and is something that is also notable in all of the GTI’s immediate rivals. But, where their engines complement fantastic chassis, the engine really is probably the highlight of the Polo GTI’s package, and that’s a problem. Some of this reluctance could also be explained by the tall intermediate gears, as second and third seem to be far too long considering there’s a total of seven to choose between. It is worth noting that despite the constant little amendments due to emissions regulations, the engine does feel slightly friskier than before, but overall it’s not a great interpretation of Audi’s otherwise very good EA888 unit.

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