With auto makers in India having slowly killed off their hot hatchbacks over the years, is the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI the car every performance hungry petrol head in the country been waiting for?
The term “hot hatch” is pretty much ingrained into Volkswagen’s DNA ever since the mid-1970s when the Golf GTI showed the world how ‘fun to drive’ and ‘affordable’ weren’t mutually exclusive. Since then, a lot of European auto manufacturers have had plenty of such hot hatches in their product portfolios and even today, Volkswagen pretty much leads this charge with hot versions of the Golf, Scirocco and Polo setting new benchmarks in the segment in the European market. So, back in 2009, when VW had announced that the Polo was coming to India, expectations were naturally high, and when the rumour mill started talking about the car coming in with a 1.2-litre engine, auto enthusiasts throughout the country (us included) were doing cartwheels in anticipation of the 105 PS TSI mill.
Sadly though, while we got the said capacity, what it ended up being was a slightly weedy naturally aspirated 3-cylinder motor with nowhere close to that power output. Thankfully, a little while later, we did get that much promised 105PS in the form of the 1.6-litre Polo and boy, did we love it. But as is the nature of such things, the only performance hatchback left in the Indian market, the 1.6 Polo, was killed off some time back and it seemed like hatches were back to being the affordable, practical beasts of burden that car buyers in general always perceived them to be. Until now that is…
It looks like Volkswagen heard the collective cry of all motoring enthusiasts in the country and finally brought us the car we’ve been pining for all this while, or has it? Called the Polo GT TSI, this new car packs the company’s award-winning 1.2-litre TSI motor (that’s Turbocharged Stratified Injection for all the technology geeks out there, but more on that later) making 105PS of power coupled with a 7-speed twin clutch transmission, making it the most technologically advanced hatchback available in the country at the moment. So what does this mean? Has it reclaimed the crown of India’s hottest hatch? Well, let’s take a closer look.
On the outside
As far as the exterior is concerned, this new car really looks no different than the standard Polo that’s available in the market. It has the same blackened headlight surrounds from the recent Polo facelift, the same 15-inch alloy wheels which are standard on the Highline model, et al. In fact, apart from the GT badge on the front grille and boot, a TSI badge at the back and GT TSI stickers on the C-pillars, there is virtually nothing to differentiate this car from any other regular Polo. On one hand, it’s a good thing that it doesn’t scream vulgarity with some gaudy sticker job or racing stripes, and maintains its cool, suave composure.
But then on the other, this is supposed to be a ‘hot hatch’ and some fiery treatment would’ve been a welcome change to set it apart from the rest out on the streets. While we would’ve loved to see the GT TSI with some fancy bumpers, side skirts and racy alloy wheels, even something as subtle as a couple of red elements on the GT badging would’ve gone a long way in increasing this car’s appeal among the youthful enthusiasts. But it seems Volkswagen has decided to play it safe to retain its universal acceptance.
What happens inside?
Again, pretty much nothing new. The GT TSI gets all the standard Highline kit which includes a two DIN audio system with Bluetooth telephone connectivity, automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, electrically adjustable mirrors and the works. The only slight bit of difference is the new seat cover design which features a sort of a two-tone treatment, which not only looks elegant, but also being made of textile instead of leather, should remain a comfortable place to park your rear on all year round. Of course, when you look right in between the two front seats, you’ll notice that the standard manual gear stick has been replaced with an automatic drive selector with tiptronic controls for the DSG gearbox and inside the foot well, the clutch pedal is missing. To add that slight pizazz, the pedals get a metal treatment on top.