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Volkswagen Polo GTI engines, drive and performance

2006 - 2009 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The 1.8T engine in the Polo is turbocharged and has 150bhp which gives it a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds. But on the road, it’s not as quick or exciting as you might expect. It’s slow off the mark and builds speed slowly. Once it gets going, though, it really flies. It makes light work of the motorway and has plenty of power in reserve for easy overtaking.

The five-speed gearbox needs to be worked hard to tap into the power that’s on offer on backroads, but that’s half the fun. The gear ratios are spaced too close together, though, which means it can feel frenetic on the motorway. A sixth gear would have eliminated this, but sadly it’s not even on the options list.

The Polo GTI is a bit off the pace compared to other hot hatches. It’s simply not as fun as the name suggests. The steering isn’t sharp enough and requires large inputs, which makes for a frustrating drive on twisty B-roads. However, the gearchange is slick and positive, there’s little bodyroll and the it corners confidently. The suspension is sportier than the standard car which means it’s a bit on the firm side.

But it’s an easy car to live with – the light steering and compact shape makes parking easy.