Volkswagen made enthusiasts in the country happy when they launched the Polo GT TDI and GT TSI siblings which have been catering to the audience who are looking for not-so-expensive hot hatches that offer driving fun and obviously the German feel. To make enthusiasts even happier, Volkswagen went on to launch the GTI (Polo moniker removed) which is brought in as a CBU from Germany, gets lesser doors but a bigger engine with much more power and we were eagerly waiting to check it out.
We would have loved if the GTI stood out from the crowd but sadly it goes unnoticed on most occasions. You can only tell if it’s got different head lamp internals with DRLs along with the red streak that flows from the grille halfway into the lamps. The grille itself has a honeycomb design which flaunts the GTI badge in chrome, and the larger air dams feed more air into the engine bay.
When viewed in profile, the GTI shows off its 16-inch (15-inch on Polo) sporty twin-beam five spoke alloys with slimmer profile tyres. It also gets the two door setup which is the most apparent feature that sets it apart from the Polo. A raised stance, blacked-out lower sections of the rear bumper, twin exhausts, and a sharper integrated spoiler are the other differences that differentiates it with the Polo.
Among sporty hatchbacks, the 2014 GTI ranks at the top for interior quality. The retro-style plaid seat fabric on the base trim won’t suit everyone, but the cabin reflects a cool and sophisticated design, featuring upscale Audi-esque trim and switchgear throughout. The Ford Focus might come close, but in general, you won’t find better materials in this price range. There are a couple downsides, including a lack of useful interior storage and the navigation system’s small screen, which makes it harder to view the map and limits its overall usefulness.
The front seats are sporty and supportive, whether cruising or driving hard, while the rear seats offer a surprising amount of headroom and legroom for adults. Behind the rear seats, the cargo area holds up to 15.2 cubic feet — nearly three times that of the Mini Cooper S, but less than a Focus hatchback. Once the rear seat is folded down, 46 cubic feet of cargo capacity is at your disposal.
Under the hood of the Volkswagen GTI is the familiar 1.8-litre TSI petrol engine that is offered on the Skoda Octavia and Superb currently and was offered on the Audi A3 and A4 earlier. The engine has 189 horses and 250 Nm of twist and is mated to the infamous 7-speed DSG transmission. We have sampled this engine earlier on numerous occasions. The engine is super punchy right from the word go and the light weight of the GTI (compared to its bigger siblings) makes it super responsive. The low end is good and when the turbo kicks in, all hell breaks lose and the car accelerates very swiftly with 0-100 km/hr coming up in 7.2 seconds.
The mid-range is very punchy and the GTI revs freely right up to 6500 RPM without the action from the engine coming down. The engine is also very refined and the exhaust also sounds good at higher RPMs. The 7-speed gearbox is smooth and quick shifting. However, one thing I’ve always noticed with the DSG is that it gets a bit confused at low speeds. Also, when you’re going easy on the throttle, it has a tendency to upshift very quickly. S mode holds onto the revs while you also get a manual tiptronic mode along with paddle shifters. The TSI mill can be efficient up to the tune of 12-14 km/l if you drive the car sedately while hard driving makes the efficiency drop to 6-7 km/l.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The Volkswagen GTI has a precise steering but I would have liked the feedback to be slightly better. It is very precise though. The car stays planted at high speeds on straights but on roads with some uneven surfaces, there is a tad loss in composure. The suspension is also stiffly set which makes sure you get better body control while the ride quality gets affected slightly. However, the ride isn’t bad at all and the GTI still feels comfortable. Braking power is sharp thanks to the all 4 discs while the grip from the 215/45/16 tyres is also very good.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
Volkswagen Polo GTI gets electronic stability control with driver steering recommendation, ABS, ASR, EDL and EDTC. Other primary safety provisions on the Polo GTI are wheel locks with extended anti-theft protection, electronic differential lock XDS, 6 airbags, ISOFIX anchorage points, height adjustable 3 head restraints, 3-point height adjustable seat belts, power windows with anti-pinch mechanism, park distance control, rear fog lamp, front fog lamps with cornering lights and rear window wiper with intermittent control.Exterior gets a bunch of features like LED headlamps with DRLs and RED inserts, sporty bumpers, signature honeycomb grille, dual chrome exhaust pipes, body cladding on seal panel, reflectors on bumpers, ORVMs with turn indicators and dark red tail lamp assemblies. Cabin comes equipped with multifunctional leather wrapped steering wheel with multiple controls, paddle shifters, storage compartments in front doors, fabric seat covers and drawers under front seats among several others.
While I could go on and on about how great a car the GTI is from behind the wheel, it is a bit much from behind the wallet. Yes, this is a CBU, so the build quality is European and the high price also ensures exclusivity (along with the 99-unit batch size), but do you get value for your money? It’s difficult to say.But that’s the thing: the GTI is not about value propositions or rational economic decisions. The GTI is about emotions and feelings. It is a car you buy with your heart and not your head. It makes little sense to purchase as a primary car, but if you are is looking to buy a second car to enjoy driving and money is not a concern, there is little to rival the GTI. The Mini Cooper S matches its performance, but is priced at even more of a premium, and the Merc A-class and Volvo V40 are better for conspicuous consumption, but don’t offer the same go. It is a car for those who want to enjoy it, not enjoy showing it. It also helps that it manages to strike such a great balance between performance and comfort.