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TSI motor is high on refinement and also offers decent fuel economy

Performance – The new Polo GTI drops the 1.8 TSI motor in lieu of the 2.0-litre TSI that outputs an impressive 200 PS (an uptick of 8 PS) and 320 Nm of torque at just 1500 RPM. The turbocharged mill has little lag to contend with and takes off in a jiffy, doing the sprint to the ton in just 6.7 seconds, top speed being 237 km/hr. There is a good amount of grunt and a lot of enthusiasm from the engine to catapult forward with no hesitation but it’s the tall gearing which robs some speed from the GTI. Refinement levels are great but once you hit the mid-range, it becomes quite vocal, emitting a very loud roar near the 6500 RPM redline – more sound than thrust for sure.

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DSG offers quick shifts, however, the GTI is also available with a manual

Turbocharged petrol motor has a lot of punch throughout along with a loud exhaust note as you near the redline

This car doesn’t hesitate at all till 200 km/hr post which progress dulls a bit. The Polo GTI comes with a 6-speed gearbox – manual and automatic, we drove the latter whose DSG unit showed its Achilles’ heel once again of not revving high enough on get-go (there is launch control though to circumvent this problem) and upshifting a tad bit earlier when you near the redline. Fuel economy is decent by hot-hatch standards at 8-10 km/l with a 40-litre fuel tank.

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Ride quality is much improved along with minimal body roll

Driving Dynamics – The new-generation Volkswagen Polo is underpinned by the MQB platform with a slew of changes for the GTI like optional active dampers, XDS differential lock, anti-roll bars, 15 mm lowered body and optional Normal and Sport drive modes. The Polo GTI isn’t as sharp-edge as you would expect, instead, VW has focussed on the balance between ride and handling which this hot-hatch beautifully exudes. The suspension isn’t as stiff as it should be and thus there is some vertical movement but that also translates into a ride quality which is praise-worthy.

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The GTI boasts of good high speed stability and strong brakes

Excellent ride and handling balance along with a feedback-rich steering inspire a lot of confidence around corners

The steering offers good feel and feedback but doesn’t carry the most weight, similarly, body roll is well contained but there is some roll when you push it hard and of course some understeer too as you close in on the limit of the chassis. But the Polo GTI has good balance and grip, it feels composed and inspires a ton of confidence too. Volkswagen doesn’t let you turn off ESP completely but in Sport mode, it isn’t as aggressive to intervene, letting you play around quite a bit as there is ample amount of grip on offer. The brakes are very strong and surefooted, offering great feel and bite.