The MH Motoring Minute: VW Polo GTi

This hot hatches punch above their engine displacement, and offer strong bang for little rand.


Arthur Jones |

Review: 5 day test

Engine: 2.0litre TSI DSG 4 cylinder turbopetrol

Power: 147kW, 320Nm

Price: R389 100 

Team Men’s Health SA loves hot hatchbacks. It’s no secret. Small, gutsy, terrier-like cars that nip at the wheel arches of the bigger, more powerful sedans and SUVs, and which offer strong bang for little rand. These hot hatches are the quintessential underdogs who punch above their engine displacement, and who focus on the purist ideals of driving: a lightweight chassis; a talent for curves and corners; and a mechanical, visceral appeal which fancier, more powerful cars lack.

Related: The MH Motoring Minute: Ford Ecosport

The hallowed Polo GTi is part of this cabal – and the latest one is bigger, smarter, and has more power than its predecessor. And even better news, this extra oomph and space isn’t going to cost you a politician’s holiday thanks to the fact that this micro machine is built in Uitenhage. So, in terms of the patented MH rands-versus-revelry pleasure formula, this scores highly. Granted, it still plays second fiddle to its brawnier Golf GTi brother, however – the sibling rivalry is getting tighter, and the younger brother is a helluva lot cheaper for what it offers.

What was telling with this road test, is that we loved getting into this car, and putting it into Sport mode every single day of the five day road test. When it comes to pure driving happiness, the Polo GTi offers plenty, and in our opinion, only loses out to the Ford Fiesta ST and the Renault Cleo RS in terms of it’s peers – but as an overall package, it reigns supreme – and this comes from a previous ST owner. As always with VW, there are plenty of optional, and expensive, extras, but you don’t need them. All-in-all, an excellent all-rounder hatch with a hot future – and not just for teenage boy racers.

PROS: Best interior in class; neat turbo soundtrack; sharp handling and DSG gearbox; top-notch build quality.

CONS: Not many. A slightly boring exterior. Also, would have loved a few more horses from the bigger engine.

WHAT WE LOVE: A hot, sweet-sounding hatch with an impressive interior and build quality, and which offers excellent versatility.

RATING: 8 /10

COMPETITORS: Ford Fiesta ST (R329 200), Renault Cleo RS (R459 900), Mini Cooper S (R428 300)

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