The new Polo GTI and its fast ancestors from 1979 to the present day.
Small Polo, great sport.
‘Once a GTI, always a GTI' – this saying can be heard time and again among fans of the sporty Volkswagen models with the ‘three magical letters' – it is pure fascination. And a new chapter of the success story has now been written in the form of the new Polo GTI. The sportiest version of the new, sixth-generation Polo is raring to go and promises pure dynamism: it races from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 237 km/h if necessary. With its 147 kW/200 horsepower turbocharged engine, its superb sports chassis – which has been lowered by 15 millimetres – and the traditional GTI trim both inside and out, the new Polo GTI is a really tasty car. On the subject of tradition, it's not just the ‘big brother' – the famous Golf GTI - that has a long history; the Polo GTI can also look back on a whole series of sporty ancestors, each with its own very special fascination. Take a look back at the history of the fast Polo, which has been around since 1979.
Lightweight with spoiler: the Polo I GT (1979)
The GT version of the Mark I Polo caused a sensation back in 1979. In terms of looks, the sports version of the then brand-new Polo series certainly had no need to hide away from the ‘big boys': in particular, the radiator grille with red edging in the style of the Golf I GTI, the black and red painted rims, a subtle front spoiler, trim elements and ‘GT' badges convey the dynamic character of the first sports Polo. Under the bonnet was a small 1.3-litre naturally aspirated engine capable of delivering 44kW/60 horsepower. Although this wasn't exactly a powerhouse, with the Polo I weighing in at just below 700 kilos it nonetheless made for a thoroughly dynamic drive.
The era of the ‘G': the Polo II GT G40 (1987)
An advert for the new GT G40 at the time referred to the car as ‘the small Wolfswagen' and thus didn't promise a great deal. Yet an impressive 85 kW/115 horsepower from just a 1.3-litre engine and a top speed of 196 km/h made a real statement for a small car back in 1987. The key feature was a mechanically driven scroll-type turbocharger, which significantly improved the performance of the engine by supplying compressed, additionally cooled supercharged air. Incidentally, the name ‘G40' is derived from the shape of the turbocharger, which resembles the letter ‘G'.
Give me an ‘I': the Polo III GTI (1998)
In 1998, a Polo was also allowed to bear the ‘three magical letters' for the first time: GTI. Volkswagen limited the first Polo GTI to a production run of 3,000 cars at the time – and it was sold out within a short space of time. A new, high-revving 1.6-litre engine with 88 kW/120 horsepower accelerated the Polo GTI to 100 km/h in 9.1 seconds. The sports chassis taken from the Polo 1.6 (74 kW/100 PS) was lowered a further ten millimetres for the GTI version. From the outside, the small powerhouse cut a rather reserved figure: only the elegant 15-inch BBS alloy wheels and flame red brake callipers gave any indication of its sporty character.
Strong comeback with turbo power: the Polo IV GTI (2006)
A GTI version of the Polo reappeared in 2006 after a break of several years. The turbocharged 1.8-litre engine was capable of 110 kW/150 horsepower, which was a breeze for a car with a kerb weight of just 1,200 kg. Especially tasty was the 132 kW/180 horsepower ‘Cup Edition', whose looks were based on the racing cars used in the Polo Cup. It accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in an impressive 7.5 seconds and had a top speed of 225 km/h.
Flexed its muscles: the Polo V GTI (2010)
The predecessor of the new Polo GTI also packed a punch: its 132 kW/180 horsepower 1.4-litre TSI engine with turbo and supercharger gave GTI fans sweaty palms. Anyone who put their foot down could race to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds.
In 2014 came a mighty master stroke – a completely new engine, a 1.8l TSI offered 141 kW/192 horsepower and a top speed of 236 km/h. And for individualists on the road there was the optional ‘Sport Select' chassis with ‘Sport Performance Kit', giving the driving experience additional dynamism. As a Polo fan, what more could you ask for?
Maybe the new, even more dynamic Mark VI Polo GTI?