2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Feels as quick as benchmark Golf GTI.

What’s Not

12 month waiting list for delivery.

X Factor

Teutonic whiz-bangery of supercharged and turbocharged engine, plus seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

  • Country of Origin
    SPAIN
  • Price
    $28,990 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    4 Cylinders
  • Output
    132 kW / 250 Nm
  • Transmission
    Sports Automatic Dual Clutch
  • ANCAP Rating
    5
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    6.1
  • C02
    142 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    N/A
  • Towing (braked)
    N/A
  • Towing (unbraked)
    N/A
Malcolm Flynn | Apr 12, 2011 | 14 Comments

VOLKSWAGEN POLO GTI REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Five-door Hatchback
Price: $28,990 plus on-road costs (three-door: $27,990)

Fuel consumption (claimed): 6.1 l/100km
Fuel consumption (tested): 6.4 l/100km

Volkswagen’s Polo GTI caps off Volkswagen’s multi-award winning fifth-generation Polo range launched in 2010.

The new Polo GTI’s entry to the market is timely; the light hot-hatch market - now occupied by the Cooper S and Clio Sport (and remember the Suzuki GTi?) - is showing signs of taking off again.

INTERIOR

  • Quality: Attention to detail and build quality is in line with the current best from Volkswagen AG. The fit, trim and material choice matches that of the excellent Golf.
  • Comfort: The standard cloth-trimmed front seats feature GTI-specific bolstering, and provide an excellent balance of comfort and support.

    The rear seats accommodate two passengers amazingly well given the size of the vehicle. There is also reasonable ‘toe space’ despite storage drawers under the front seats.
  • Equipment: Power windows and steering, air-conditioning, 6.5” touch screen multimedia interface, power and heated door mirrors, remote central locking, tyre pressure monitoring system, steering wheel controls for audio and trip computer, cruise control, MP3 compatible SD card slot, six-disc CD changer and AM/FM radio, compatible with iPod, USB and mini-USB.
  • Storage: Five cupholders, ample glove, centre and door cavities, plus drawers under both front seats. The 204 litre rear cargo space is average for its class, but 60/40 rear split-fold seat increases storage space.

ON THE ROAD

  • Driveability: The Polo GTI is a cracker of a drive.

    Its twin-charged, direct-injected 1.4 litre petrol four-cylinder engine features a torque-filled rev band and near seamless transition between supercharger and turbocharger assistance.

    In Polo GTI tune, the 1.4 litre engine produces 132kW and 250Nm. Thanks to a 200kg weight advantage, the Polo GTI matches the Golf GTI’s claimed 6.9 seconds from 0-100km/h.

    The only real issue we found was some occasional confusion of the twin-clutch transmission; it could get ‘wrong-footed’ with shifts involving first gear (either selecting first inappropriately or reluctance to find first when creeping into an intersection).
  • Refinement: The GTI shares Polo’s class-leading refinement. The standard Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres however do create some road noise, but this is a small compromise given the grip they provide.
  • Suspension: Conventional MacPherson strut front/rear torsion beam suspension is used to good effect, with GTI-specific dampening, 17-inch alloys and 15mm lower ride height delivering a more sporting experience than the standard Polo.

    Steering is direct, providing the right feel and just enough isolation from road shocks (despite low profile 40 series tyres fitted). Torque steer is evident from rest under heavy acceleration, but is quickly rectified by the electronic diff lock.
  • Braking: GTI uses discs all-round; no trouble reining in the Polo’s low 1189kg kerb mass.

SAFETY

  • ANCAP rating: 5 Star.
  • Safety features: Six airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners/load limiters, active front headrests, ABS, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, electronic stability control.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

  • Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
  • Service costs: Service intervals are set at 12 months or 15,000km. Minor services are quoted at $380, with major services costing $980 at 60,000km intervals. Timing belt replacement is scheduled at 105,000km.

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

  • Renault Clio RS200 Cup ($36,490 ) - Clio’s naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre engine needs more revs than Polo GTI to give its best.

    It’s a very potent drive with a very sharp chassis, but the Polo is the better everyday proposition. Clio also lacks five-door option. (see Clio reviews)
  • Citroen DS3 DSport ($35,990 ) - Another recent release in the light hot hatch segment, the DS3 is more flamboyant both inside and out.

    Offers more compliant ride comfort but cannot match outright performance of the Polo. Also lacks five-door option. (see DS3 reviews)
  • Mini Cooper S ($40,500 ) - The very template for a light hot hatch. Also lacks five-door practicality, but more focussed chassis would show Polo GTI a clean set of heels. (see Cooper S reviews)

    Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The Polo GTI combines many desirable elements in one small car.

Value compared to all of its direct rivals is outstanding - the Polo GTI leaves you with the better part of $10,000 in your pocket.

And, let’s face it, $28,000 puts the GTI in Corolla territory. For the Polo GTI to provide such performance, driver entertainment, efficiency, refinement and practicality at the price it does, it's a steal.

If Volkswagen is able to meet demand - that current 12 month waiting list is a worry - the dynamic Polo GTI could well become a modern classic.

Filed under: Volkswagen, Featured, review, petrol, hot hatch, volkswagen polo, hatch, automatic, fwd, performance, Germany, volkswagen gti, 2011 volkswagen polo gti, volkswagen polo gti, light, Advice, enthusiast, 5door, 7a

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  • crownleyian says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    Nice little car but it hardly deserves the GTI badge in my opinion, as mentioned from all the reviews I have seen.

    Also as a performance hatch it does not stand a chance against the Renault Clio Rs 200. But the Clio RS 200 is considered to be the last of it's breed.

  • frostyboyy says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    I ordered a Polo GTI in early December, just a few days after launch. My car is built and is currently on a ship headed to Melbourne. I should have it end May/early June. I'm definitely one of the luck ones, because as the article says current wait is in the order of 12 months.

    If you're not to fussed about spec, call around country dealers in particular.

    I'm going into a Polo GTI after having owned a Cooper S Cabrio for 6 years. I loved the MINI but just couldn't justify spending close to $60K for a car I essentially drive to and from work and give it a bit of a squirt every now and then on weekends. The Polo represents great value and despite many people being very negative of it because it doesn't come in manual, I really enjoyed the drive - and that's coming from someone who has never owned a non manual transmission.

  • Mr. Sanchez says,
    3 years ago
    Volkswagen is a joke!!! 9-12months waiting list??!
    For a Polo!??
    No discount even on ex demo's!!
    Who do they think they are??
    Its a Volkswagen, not a Ferrari.
    I don't know why they keep advertising or giving out their cars for reviews??
    All it does is make it harder to satisfy potential customers IMHO.
    If it has wons so many accolades in this country you think head office would preempt the high demand and allocate more cars.

    And they finished towards the bottom the of the J.D. Power manufacturer's quality ranking.
    It seems Volkswagen have had BIG quality issues in recent history regarding cars coming out of their South Africa plant (where our 5 door polo's come from).
    Maybe stick to the 3 doors, at least you can tell people its European (3 door models are built in Spain).

    A quick google of reliability issues of aussie delivered cars coming out of South Africa raised some alarms for me.... Sorry No thanks Volkswagen..
    • barra240t says,
      3 years ago
      Australia is a small market compared to the rest of the world, so we wait like many other manufacters who source vehicles from overseas.

      Your comment on not discounting is ridiculous, dealers can sell a car at any price and it is about time they can make some money from a vehicle instead of tearing it all up. When was the last time you went into Woolies and asked them to discount their bananas to suit you?

      I own the previous GTI and it is an amazing vehicle at a descent price with HIGH quality fit and finish.
  • frostyboyy says,
    3 years ago
    The 3 & 5 Door Polo GTI's are manufactured in Spain
  • gti_owner says,
    3 years ago
    Ok, staight up:
    This article has one glaring flaw and that is that it says that major service cost is $980?! NOT ONE dealer I have called regarding servicing my GTI has quoted any more than $800 including all parts and labour and GST. This car also DOES NOT HAVE A TIMING BELT. It has a TIMING CHAIN like all 1.4 Twincharged engines.

    Next:
    "Also as a performance hatch it does not stand a chance against the Renault Clio Rs 200. But the Clio RS 200 is considered to be the last of it's breed"

    All reviews of the Clio RS200 and GTI have awarded the points to the GTI, it is also FASTER around wakefield park by close to half a second.

    Last:
    I bought this car because of one reason. Value. a CLio RS200 is nowhere near worth close to $10000 more than a Polo GTI and a Mini Cooper S is a joke at $30000 more. The fact that owners of brand new Golf GTI's look in horror to see a polo keeping up with them is brilliant. The only thing I hate is not being able to turn off ESC for track days....
    • crownleyian says,
      3 years ago
      3 likes
      "All reviews of the Clio RS200 and GTI have awarded the points to the GTI, it is also FASTER around wakefield park by close to half a second."

      Was that the Wheels Magazine review? The only review in the world that claimed that a Polo GTI is a better "driver’s car" than the Clio RS 200 Cup Chassis. Sorry but that's a joke but we can take our cars to a track day and we can even swap if you want...
      Mate there is even a review with the Clio RS 200 Cup vs the Ford Focus RS and the Focus does not run away from the Clio. The Focus is quicker on the straits but when the tight curves come the Clio RS 200 eats it alive.

      Reviewers have actually given up on comparing the Clio RS 200 Cup and the Mini Cooper JCW, because they just eat the completion alive.
      Also the Clio has an engine that is used in their Formula Renault and awarded as one of the best NA engines in history.

      Your Polo GTI (which is a great little car no doubts) was reviewer by the best reviewer (from Evo Magazine) in the world Mr Chris Harris and came out 3rd and guess who came out 1st? Clio RS 200 Cup and second the Citroen DS3 Racing.
      EVO Magazine also classified the Clio RS 200 Cup in 5th place in the middle of supercars.

      The Polo GTI’s little twin-charged, direct-injected 1.4 has already been scraped by VW.
      So to make things worse for Polo GTI owners you live your life with fear why VW has scraped that engine.

      Good little car the Polo GTI, Magnificent car the Clio RS 200 Cup!
      • gti_owner says,
        3 years ago
        Yes it was the wheels review, but I don't particularly care about the opinion of the reviewer because I know that indeed that the RS200 is the better driver's chassis and I would rely moreso on the opinion of the writers at Motor Magazine (who also agree that the RS200 is a better driver's chassis) but when a proffesional race driver puts the 2 cars around the track and one is quicker than the other, that is raw data.

        I have driven the clio and I agree, it's a brilliant drivers car, BUT, this is my underlying argue, is the 3000rpm cruising speed, interior creaks and rattles, cheap-looking interior, (that is my opinion as a product designer)high driving position worth $10,000+ over a Polo GTI when, based on empirical evidence, that the GTI is indeed quicker around a race track.....?

        On the 1.4 being scrapped, this is stil a rumour and it is coming from the fact that the engine is very expensive to produce (and it also won world engine of the year when it first debut in the Golf, so that argument is moot)and costs as much as 2/3 of the price of the vehicle to produce so it has nothing to do with the reliability.

        If I had the cash, I'd buy the RenaultSPort Megane Trohpy over a VW any day because it is brilliant but if indeed I had the cash to stump up for the Clio RS200, would I choose it? Probably not because the price gap is too vast for me to fathom.

        Oh, the DS3 Racing was awarded last place by motor for being slower than the other 2 and not as good a driver's car, even though it had the highest terminal speed during their test so reviewers opinions are only that, opinions, like what you and I are expressing now smile

        Final argument from me:
        RS200 Cup is a brilliant drivers car, nimble, grippy and involving but too harsh for my tastes for everyday living and not worth the extra $10k. And whoever ruined the beautiful frontend traetment on the prvious version needs to have their eyes put out because they obviously aren't using them!
  • Stephen Frost says,
    3 years ago
    Well put gti_owner. I think you have hit the nail on the head re the negativity many seem to present re the Polo GTI - it's incredible value and people are peeved at that. I'm actually coming out of a 2005 Cooper S Cabrio - I loved that car and it didn't skip a beat, but could I justify replacing it? no way. My Polo GTI has landed and is pending release to the dealer follwoing compliance. Can't wait to get my hands on it!!
    • RS265PT says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      News update that all motor mag's / site's should inform 50% of the cars with the 1.4 TSI twin charged engine are blowing up, starts off with high oil consumption.

      Affecting the Polo GTI, Audi A1 TSI and Ibiza FR / Bocanegra.

      Be warned!
      • gti_owner says,
        2 years ago
        50%?!?!?!?!!?

        I think someone is being a tad over-dramatic. At last count in the Uk, there were approximately 500 Polo GTIs registered and 250 of those do not have blown engines. Yes, there are major oil consumption issues as with all the higher output versions of the 1.4 TSI motor but not every motor is affected (mine isn't) and I know of no motors that aren't running crazy tunes that haven't blown up.
      • Trevor says,
        2 years ago
        1 like
        Have to agree I have several friends who have had major engine problems with their Polo GTI.
        The VW Aus facebook site which is run by VW itself is inundated with complaints. Some owners needing 2 engines withing 3 years
  • Felicity Seiffert says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    sad I purchased a Polo GTI 5 Door and it has givenme nothing but trouble has been back to the dealer 6 times as it is using oil and blowing smoke since 1400Klms paid $34000 for a vehicle not happy brother purchased a $500 vehicle no trouble at all. Been told by dealer dont put any oil in it between now and the next 1000 klms and come back if it breaks down in the meantime due to lack of oil they will organized a tow truck what new car has this kind of threat. I am only 22 years old and could get stuck on a highway at night. mad
    • Jodie Stevenson says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      I am also having issues with my 2012 VW Polo GTI. Mine has used over 4L of oil in 18mths and its only done 15,000kms. The dealer just keeps topping it up with oil. They have replaced the oil filter and hose and done a software update but wont do anything else. This issue is extremely bad for my car but they just keep saying this is normal for turbo cars. I use to have an older Holden Astra for 2yrs and it never used any oil. My partner has a turbo car which he has had for 4yrs and it has never once used oil so they cant say its just the turbo. i just dont understand why they dont do something about it. VW are known to be a Prestigious Car Company but now I just think they are horrible and unreliable.
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