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Old 8th November 2017, 20:18   #1
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Default Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Before I start this review, I’d like to give a brief write up about the history of the GTI – The Original Hot Hatch.

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0058.jpg

Volkswagen started the hot hatch revolution way back in 1975 when it decided to plonk a big engine into its small FWD hatch back called Golf which, launched only a year ago, was soon becoming popular world over. The Golf was crucial for VW’s survival after sales of the iconic Beetle had started falling.

Buoyed by the success of the Golf, VW engineers decided to launch a sports model with a bigger engine, tighter, lowered suspension and other sporty bits and give the public a fun to drive everyday car. Mind you, this was a novel idea in those days as, if you wanted to drive fast you had to spend big money on expensive sports cars and regular cars just took you from point A to point B. VW estimated that this ‘Sports’ Golf could fetch them additional sales of some 5,000 units or so in total. To say they miscalculated would be an understatement as the concept of a fast or hot hatch became so popular, that they were selling almost 5,000 units a month during its peak.

They named the car Golf GTI. GTI stands for Grand Touring Injection. Fuel injection in those days was cutting edge and offered better performance and economy over carburetted engines. The car was light, only 840 kgs with a 1.6L fuel injected engine producing 110 hp taking the car from 0 to 100 kph in about 9 secs. The Hot Hatch was born. This soon turned into a segment with every manufacturer wanting a share of the pie. Car makers soon realised that there is a market for cars that are fun to drive. And enjoyment behind the wheel shouldn’t be restricted to big expensive cars only. The last 40+ years have seen six more generations of the Golf being produced together with the equivalent GTI and the moniker became a legend.

With every generation, the Golf grew bigger and bigger with more features and creature comforts being added. The current Mk 7 Golf weighs in at about 1,400 kgs with a 2L 230 hp engine taking it from 0 to 100 in 6.5 secs.

The success of the Golf GTI inspired VW to extend the concept to its other small hatch, the Polo. The first Polo GTI took some time coming, and it was only in 1995 that the world saw the first Polo GTI. This was the Mark 3 Polo. Mark 3 was followed by Mark 4 and then the Mark 5 Polo GTI was launched in 2010 with a 1.4L turbo and super charged engine that produced 180 PS of peak power that powered the Polo from 0 to 100 in 6.9 secs. Unfortunately the 1.4L supercharged engine was too complicated and hence unreliable. So when the Mk5 Polo facelift came out, VW dumped it in favour of the popular EA888 1.8 TSI putting out 192 PS of peak power, with the ton coming up in 6.7 secs. The Mk5 Polo GTI in many ways is very similar to the original Mk1 Golf GTI. Dimensions are quite similar and also the power to weight ratios are quite similar.

Here are a few of videos for those more interested in the GTI’s history.







Last edited by Santoshbhat : 9th November 2017 at 08:48.
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Old 8th November 2017, 22:01   #2
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Why did I buy the GTI?

I always liked the concept of the hot hatch. In India it was the Palio 1.6 GTX which Fiat was hoping could do a GTI in India. I was a student in those days when the car was launched and when my dad was looking to buy a second car for my Mom, I did not even have the courage to suggest to him to buy that car. We brought a WagonR home at the time. But I loved that car and every time I saw one on the road, it made me go weak in the knees. Sadly the hot hatch did not catch the Indian audienceís fancy and the GTX was phased out. I was finally able to live my dream in 2007 when Fiat brought the 1.6 back as the Palio Stile 1.6. Sadly Fiat had messed the car up. Poor suspension tuning and terrible brakes ruined the experience and I sold the car off within 3 years. My love for fast cars continued and I had a great run with the Laura 1.8 TSI. I think this was the car that truly introduced me to the world of performance automobiles. A stage one remap, Bilstein shocks and fat rubber made it a fantastic sleeper car. I replaced the Laura with a BMW X3 30d. The reason for the sedan to SUV plunge was primarily for family. It was getting difficult to fit my growing family into the sedan and almost every sedan upgrade I was looking at was tighter than the Laura space wise. The X3 has been a great upgrade and I donít repent that decision one bit. The six cylinder diesel BMW is a different kind of monster and fulfils my needs perfectly. While the BMW straight six diesel was satisfying my need for speed and performance, I was missing the high revving sweet 1.8 TSI. I bought a Polo GT TSI for my city needs somewhere in between. The GT TSI is a great car. Very refined, adequately powerful and the 7 speed DSG is really cutting edge for the segment. But as an enthusiast you get let down by the soft suspension and average brakes. But thatís Ok. The GT TSI was never meant to be a proper hot hatch and it was serving its purpose superbly. Being a satisfied former VAG car owner I was very comfortable with the Polo.

A twelve year old Santro in the family was due for replacement and I hatched a plan to get myself a nice performance petrol and hand over the Santroís duties to the GT TSI. I was getting excited with the news of the Polo GTI being launched in early 2017 and I had nearly made my mind to buy it. I thought if the Polo GT TSI retails at 10L, the GTI will not cross 15L. 1.5X seemed like a decent premium for the bigger engine, brakes etcÖ Rest of the car was anyway a Polo. But when VW announced a price of about 27.XX lakhs Ex showroom Bangalore, my plan came crashing to the ground. No way was I prepared to shell out the Rs. 33.xx Lakhs on road asking price. It started to sound ridiculous. My thought process changed for a while and I then said to myself, why not look at the Mini Cooper S. The GTIís pricing was now dangerously close to the Miniís and all of a sudden it became a worthy contender. The Mini was a bit more expensive but the problem with it, is that a lot of the must have features are paid options. With all options ticked it was getting close to 50L on road. With the 50L figure, another car came into contention: The F30 330i. I thought what the heck, I might as well stretch up and get the F30 330i. The 3 series will come up for a generation change in 2018 and if I can wait till the last moment, I can pick one of the last few F30 330iís for a bargain. I was prepared to wait. I thought the time to enjoy the best petrol and diesel engines is NOW. The strides Electric cars are making and the way Governments all over the world are handing out deadlines to car companies to phase out IC engines, I donít think lot of progress is going to be made in the current engine technology and all the energy will now be focussed on clean energy vehicles. Also who knows when IC engines will be completely phased out. The future for car enthusiasts isnít very bright.

I pondered over these 3 options for months in my mind. Polo GTI Vs. Mini Cooper S Vs. BMW 330i. I was able to eliminate the Cooper S pretty quickly. It made no sense to drop the Polo GTI for a more expensive less practical car. Both are two door, but the Polo GTI is a little bit more practical. The rear seats are more spacious and the boot is more practical and most importantly it comes with a spare. I use this car for my Business touring within KA, MH & TN and at times I have to drive on industrial roads ravaged by big trucks. Also the Mini would attract too much unwanted attention. The obscurity of the GTI is a plus point for me. I know, in this vein the F30 sounds ridiculous. But with fossil fuel powered cars soon looking at being listed as endangered species, I wanted to make the most of the next 8 years. With the Cooper S eliminated, it was a battle between the F30 330i and the GTI. Two very different cars and nowhere close to each other, segment wise. I love the look of the F30 LCI M sport. It was only the 33L odd asking price of the GTI that was making me look at these cars. I was prepared to wait for the discounts on the F30 to kick in. But another factor held me back as far as the 330i was concerned. That is the usage pattern for this car. I use this car primarily to drive to office and for daily errands, school drop offs etc... My office is just a km away from my home and I really prefer a small hatch for driving around these narrow cross roads. These days people donít have any parking sense and squeezing through these roads with crazily parked cars need special skills. People who drop their kids to school daily will know what I am talking about. These points really justify striking out the 330i, but itís not easy to convince the heart is it?

The Mind Vs. Heart battle raged on. Then the news broke out that VW had dropped the price for the GTI by a whopping 7 lakhs Ex showroom which translated to a drop of nearly 8.50 lakhs from the on road price. Effect of price drop plus GST savings. This was a knockout punch for the heart. The GTI was now about 25L on road Vs. 50L on road for the 330i. The GTI was now a clear winner. I still hesitated for a few weeks as 25L for a Polo still did not seem right. But then a talk with my wife cleared matters as she vetoed the 330i. She also vetoed the 2 door Polo, but then I used my marketing skills and got her on-board using the carís safety features as a USP. Disc brakes all round and six airbags you see. I quickly called VW for a test drive, not really hopeful of getting one. I bought the GT TSI without a test drive as they did not have any test drive cars at the time. But surprise surprise they had a TD car and gave me a TD on the same day. Proof that they were finding it hard to sell? My test drive report is here (Scoop! VW Polo GTI stock clearance. Now at Rs. 19.99 lakh)

I liked what I saw and felt and I was clear about what I wanted. No more test drives of any other car. This was the period where the GST council had hinted on higher taxes for non small cars. I rushed with all the formalities, got the bank loan approved and got delivery within 2 weeks of doing the test drive. The sales advisor at VW Palace Cross told me that only 40 cars or so were left and colours were limited to Red, white silver and black. They only had one black car in stock in their own yard and the factory had informed them that black was no longer available. I liked red but since I already have a red GT TSI, I ruled it out. At least let it look like a new car I thought! I also ruled out white, since my X3 is white. I did not want two white cars. That left silver and black. Silver looks boring, so I was all set for my first black car! Also the red highlights on the gril and brake callipers stand out nicely with black. The gun metal alloys too suit the black car better. Although the spoiler, honeycomb lower grill and diffuser get somewhat merged and donít stand out.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 9th November 2017 at 08:52.
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Old 8th November 2017, 22:19   #3
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

I will be drawing a lot of comparisons with the Polo GT TSI in my review of the GTI as that is a car I’ve owned for 3 years now and many here are familiar with.

2017 Mk5 FL Volkswagen Polo GTI

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0161.jpg

What I Like
  • Red hot performance that actually justifies the Hot Hatch tag
  • Genuinely fun to drive
  • Fuel Economy on the highway
  • Sweet exhaust note
  • Sporty tuning for the 7 speed DSG compared to the one in the GT TSI
  • Gearshift paddles are a joy to use.
  • Superb brakes
  • LED Headlights are very effective. DRLs give you some much needed exclusivity.
  • Electronic XDS – Grip!
  • Superb CBU build quality – Much better than the Made in India Polos
  • Understated and classy VW looks
  • Superbly tuned suspension
  • High quality and ergonomically brilliant interiors
  • Supportive sport seats
  • Nice touch screen Audio head unit. Sounds good too.
  • Beautiful flat bottom GTI steering wheel.
  • Good safety features – 6 airbags, discs all round, ABS, ESC etc..

What I Dislike
  • Expensive even after price cut.
  • Two door configuration is a pain when you want to carry rear passengers. Best suited for only 2 on-board
  • Harsh ride on very bad roads. Very high recommended tyre pressures compound this problem.
  • Regular D mode too conservative and S mode a bit too aggressive. Something it between would be nice.
  • No TPMS
  • Terrible single tone horn
  • Irritating Auto Start Stop
  • No audio mute button on the MF steering wheel.
  • No Android Auto.
  • You lose out on some performance with regular 91 octane fuel
  • Spares and parts availability is a question mark in case of accidents or parts failure due to CBU nature
  • Service support is also a question mark due to low numbers and limited knowledge of the service centres
  • DSG unreliability factor is always hanging over your head
  • Tyre size is very odd. Not available in the open market.
  • Poorly specced for the price. Some features added to regular Polos these days, missing
  • Thin 125/70 R18 spare is a very odd choice. R18 for the spare? Really?
  • Fog lamps are yellow halogens - a mismatch with the white led headlights
  • 2 years extended warranty quite expensive

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 8th November 2017 at 22:22.
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Old 8th November 2017, 22:46   #4
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Engine & Gear box

The VAG groupís 1.8 TSI is a real gem of an engine. I owned the Laura 1.8 TSI for about 6 years/ 85k kms and it never ceased to amaze me. Even at the end of 6 years it felt fresh and as powerful, as smooth and as refined as it was on day one. Generally there is some fatigue in an engine over the years. Some engines turn gruff, some engines just donít have same energy, some feel strained beyond a certain RPM. But the 1.8 direct injection turbo had none of that even after 6 years. While the Laura TSI introduced me to wonders of the 1.8 TSI, the Polo GT TSI introduced me to the marvel of the 7 Speed DSG. I know, the DQ200 gear box has received a lot of flak here on team bhp for its unreliable nature. The early Superbs were the worst affected. Some early Polo owners too have faced clutch pack failures and mechatronic failures. A switch to mineral oil helped matters but problems havenít gone away completely. I myself had some issues with clanky downshifts from D3 to D2 in my GT TSI. A software update helped matters, but I feel the software update has tamed the gear box a bit. It seems a little sedate now. Anyway the point I am trying to make is, despite its reliability issues and flaws, the dual clutch 7 speed DSG is a fantastic piece of equipment when it works. There is virtually no transmission loss and all the engine power is transferred to the wheels. The real strength of the DSG is upshifts. The next gear is pre selected and it changes gears in milliseconds with virtually no drop in power to the wheels. Itís also relaxing to drive in traffic and the DSG logic is so smart that it adapts to your driving style and virtually reads your mind. You can literally talk to the gear box with your right foot.

The star of the show
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0122.jpg


On paper the DQ200 7 speed DSG in the Polo GTI is the same gear box found on the Polo GT TSI. But I find that hard to believe, simply because it feels so different in the GTI. It not only seems to shift faster, but it also feels more assured when it comes to downshifts. Downshifts are a slightly weak area for dual clutch transmissions. They are very good with upshifts with the next gear preselected. But when you suddenly put your foot down, when cruising in a high gear, there is a little lag before it downshifts. But the DQ200 in the GTI does not suffer this problem. It is lightning quick in selecting the right gears. I have experienced the 8 speed ZF in the X3 30d which is rated among the best in the business. This DSG7 has to be right up there somewhere. Maybe it is still early days, but right now, its good off the line, itís fantastic when you are accelerating hard, its good with downshifts and it is not jerky while decelerating or in slow traffic. Itís got all bases covered basically. Hopefully itíll stay that way. But I am not so sure if my experience with the DSG in the Polo GT TSI is anything to go by. With age and wear and tear on the clutch packs, the DSGs tend to lose some of their Ďgoodí qualities. I donít drive a lot in crawling traffic. Hopefully that should keep the stresses low on the clutch packs.

Another area of difference with the Polo GT TSI is the gear leverís selection methodology of the ĎSí mode. In the GT TSI you have to press the lock button and pull the lever down to ĎSí. This is a bit cumbersome and can rob you of that crucial half a second than can potentially cost you an overtaking opportunity. In the GTI, to select ĎSí mode, you just have to tap the lever down once. No need to press the lock switch or even hold the lever. It has a spring loaded action where the lever does not actually shift down. It returns to the same position, but S is now engaged. To get back to D you have to tap it in the same manner once again. I love this feature. It allows you to get in to S in an instant with no time delay and similarly get back to D once youíve completed the overtake. As a result I find myself getting in and out of ĎSí mode very often. Spot a nice empty piece of road? Tap it into ĎSí, let it rip, hear the exhaust growl, pop and fart, then get back to D when the stretch is over. What a joy! Being a GTI, VW has programmed some subtle sporty bits into the car. One such thing is the kick when the box shifts up or down. You get a mild kick with every upshift when accelerating hard and even when it downshifts when it senses you want a move on. The exhaust playing its own upshift downshift music. Just makes you realise you are driving something special.

One negative in the way the gear shift is programmed, is that regular D mode is too mild. It shifts up too early in D. ĎSí is way too aggressive and at times I wish there was something in between. This is more so on the highway when you get slowed down behind two slow moving vehicles. In D mode the box is too eager to upshift to higher gears and as result the acceleration isnít as rapid as youíd like. In ĎSí mode the upshifts happen later and you get to enjoy the fantastic midrange of the 1.8 TSI. One problem in ĎSí is that the gearbox downshifts very aggressively if you brake hard or get slowed down. From S6 it jumps straight down to S3 or S2 even. Yes it rev matches and all, but the loud exhaust starts screaming and you tend to startle everyone inside and outside the car. At times I almost get embarrassed!!

Paddles are one answer for that something in between that Iím looking for. They are a lot more fun in the GTI than the X3. Also paddles allow you to rev the engine beyond 4,500 ~ 5,000 rpm to get that DSG fart for every upshift. I am yet to get fully accustomed to using paddles, but I think thatís going to happen very quickly the more I drive this car.

The 1.8 TSI found under the hood of the GTI is an evolution of the EA888 series of turbo charged engines. It combines direct injection and turbocharging to produce 192 PS of peak power from 5,400 RPM to 6,200 RPM and a peak torque of 250 NM right from 1,250 RPM going up to 5,300 RPM. The peak torque is actually limited to 250 NM due to torque limits of the DSG gearbox. Polo GTIs with manual transmission have this cranked up to 320 NM right from the factory! The 1.8 engine block completely fills up the engine bay. So much so that there is no space left for the battery! The battery is placed in the boot ala BMW. Helps achieve good weight distribution too as otherwise the car will become too nose heavy.

Good thing is VW has not detuned the engine for India. This is what you get in India and elsewhere in the world. The recommended petrol is 95 RON OR 91 RON min. The manual says the engine will do fine with 91 RON but with a slight drop in performance. I am trying to stick to Speed 97 when in BLR city so far. I did a highway run with 97 one way and 91 for the return journey and I can confidently say that the car was much peppier with 97. I think you lose at least 15 to 20 bhp with 91 Octane petrol. One thing I am sure is that the exhaust note is way better (louder) with 97. The exhaust is a bit muted with regular 91. A tank full of speed 97 easily lasts me more than a month if I am not travelling. Letís see how long I can stick to 97. Itís not the easiest thing to do as very few fuel stations stock it and at times there is no supply.

The best thing about the engine specs is from where the peak torque starts : 1,250 RPM . And it stays with you right up to 5,300 RPM. This and the intuitive DSG means that you are rarely out of the peak torque zone. The torque is so well spread out that there is hardly any turbo lag. Acceleration is linear and relentless when you give it the beans. Itís ridiculous how quickly it accelerates from 60 to 100 or 100 to 150 clicks.

Fire up the engine in the morning and the engine comes to life with a growl, followed by a rumble until the RPM drops after about 25 seconds or so. My two year son old loves this sound. Itís impossible to make a quiet getaway without him knowing!! Around town, the engine and gear box are very refined and there are simply no negatives. The gear box shifts up smoothly, you have adequate power, the noise insulation is good, ACís good, ride is recent enough, handling is superb, good ergonomics, quality interiors, the sound system is great etcÖ Basically it is very easy to live with on a daily basis. I find the hill hold control to be a bit more aggressive in the GTI. Car tends to leap ahead from standstill a little aggressively. You need to be very careful and give very light throttle input from standstill whenever it gets engaged.

On open highways the car is blisteringly quick. You always have a feeling that you are the fastest thing around. Just step on the throttle and the lightening quick DSG shifts down a couple of gears and you are on your way. The wide torque spread ensures that you are always in the meat of the power band. Sometimes people ask me why I love petrol engines so much. Modern diesels have torque and economy on their side but the kind of emotional connect you get with sweet sounding high revving petrols is something else.

What makes the Polo GTI a very fast car is the power to weight ratio. 192 PS in a car that weighs only about 1.25 Tons gives it a power to weight ratio of about 150 bhp per ton. Just to put that in perspective, the 265 bhp G30 BMW 5 Series has a power to weight ratio of about 143 bhp per ton. In terms of numbers the official 0-100 time given by VW is 7.2 secs, but many car mags have tested the Indian GTI to do the ton in about 6.7 secs. Top speed is rated at 235 kph. VW always tend to be conservative with their official BHP and 0-100 timings. Strange, since they had no reservations in overstating how clean their diesels were!!

Fuel Efficiency :

Itís amazing how technology advances. Six years back the same engine in my Laura produced 160 PS and returned about 11 to 11.50 kmpl over a 500 kms drive from Bangalore to Belgaum. The engine in the GTI produces 192 PS and returns 13.60 kmpl over the same drive, driven in similar fashion and with the added convenience of the auto box! The 7 gear ratios + abundant torque from low down, allows the designer to give you a super tall 7th gear. That is very impressive for a petrol engine. In the city it can vary anywhere between 6 kpl to 10 kpl depending on the time spent idling at signals. The auto start stop is one of the most irritating features ever. I donít know what it is doing in a car like the GTI . Thankfully there is a switch to turn it off. Iíll have to get it deactivated during service.

Last edited by Aditya : 12th November 2017 at 22:19. Reason: Mention of high speeds
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Suspension ride and handling

VW India has tweaked the suspension on the GTI to suit Indian conditions. Normally when you read about such things you tend to get a bit disappointed. ‘Tweaked for India’ generally means dialing down the fun, be it detuning of the engine to suit Indian fuel or jacking up and softening the suspension to suit bad roads. But in this case I think VW has done the right thing. They have increased the ride height by about 15mm. Ground clearance is 155mm Vs. 140 mm for the European spec. But it sits lower than the regular Indian Polos by about 10mm. Another difference is the wheels. Indian Polos come equipped with 215/45/R16 wheels as against 215/40/R17 wheels for the Euro cars. What this does is, it gives that crucial bit of ground clearance to be able to use this car in places like Bangalore on a daily basis without having to worry about damaging your car. 16” Wheels also seem to be a good decision. 17s would have been overkill on our roads and would make the car less ideal for touring on country roads.

The suspension set up on the GTI is one of the big differentiating factors compared to the regular Polo. Obviously the overall set up is much stiffer to aid handling. Almost every suspension component is different starting from the struts to the springs to the beefier anti roll bars. The struts feel very similar to the Bilstein B6s I had in my Laura. Polo owners will be happy to know that the front struts don’t make the ‘phus phus’ sound when going over speed breakers. Once you start driving, the stiff suspension is the first thing you’ll notice. Over very sharp cuts and potholes you need to be extra careful and slow in order to protect the tyres and suspension. But despite of the stiff suspension it rides pretty well. The ride can get annoying on very bad roads. You have to slow down to a crawl, otherwise you will end up with bulged tyres and bent rims. On regular roads the ride is very much acceptable. In comparison, the Polo GT TSI has a much more absorbient ride. I prefer the firm riding GTI to the GT TSI. Even my dad says the ride is good from the passenger seat. It all depends on how you drive. By habit I baby it over sharp cuts and carefully scan the road to avoid potholes. Tyre pressures too play a role here. For the city I drop the pressure from the recommended 39 /35 PSI front and rear to 34/32 PSI.

The handling is quite exceptional. Tight suspension on a small hatchback is always a lot of fun. There is hardly any body roll and the precise steering allows you to dart around town and tight spaces with a lot of ease. The steering feels a lot more livelier in the GTI. It’s very precise and gives a decent amount of feedback. Of all the VAG cars (Polo GT TSI + Laura TSI) I’ve owned, I’d say the GTI has the most communicative steering set up. Around town its light and it weighs up nicely on the highway. The steering too is lovely to hold. It’s a size smaller compared to the regular Polo’s and is finished with quality materials.

Out on the highway the GTI is a bag full of fun. The engine, gearbox and suspension come into their own on smooth fast highways. You get so immersed in the driving experience that you don’t even bother to turn on the music system for hundreds of kms. It’s ridiculous how easy it is to find gaps and scoot through. Straight line stability is fantastic despite the short wheelbase. Over some highway sections though where the road is worn out or the surface isn’t completely flat, the ride does get a bit too busy and the car gets tossed around a fair bit unless you slow down. I think for the driver who enjoys driving, it is still OK. But the passenger will start to feel a bit fatigued getting tossed around like that. On similar roads the X3 is extremely planted and the suspension does a terrific job of maintaining a flat ride. Another reason for passenger fatigue in the GTI is the higher noise levels. The buzz from the engine and exhaust is constantly there, plus a bit of wind noise creeps in from the A pillars. The tyres too are a bit chirpy. The GTI is not a car that you will drive sedately. The bursts of acceleration, quick directional changes, hard braking, loud exhaust etc... will not allow your co driver to doze off that easily. A nice hilly road with smooth tarmac is a mouth watering prospect in this car.

I generally prefer the X3 for my highway drives but after a couple of highway drives in the GTI, I find it hard to pick up the X3’s keys. The GTI is just so involving to drive! Cruise control is available but in this car it would be sacrilege to use cruise control when so much fun is on offer.

The GTI also gets upgraded brakes. The front discs are larger and almost fill up the insides of the alloy wheel. In fact 16” is the smallest wheel you can fit on to the GTI. Any smaller and the brakes won’t fit. The rears also get solid discs instead of drums that you get on regular Polos. Needless to say, the braking is excellent. Pedal feel also is very good. You get good feedback and the braking is nice and progressive which allows you to be very precise with your braking. Haven’t experienced much brake fade either which is a major problem with the GT TSI. The car has a lot of grip and the XDS electronic differential allows you to take some crazy lines on curves and corners. It brakes the inner front wheel so that power is delivered to the outside wheel only. As a result it avoids understeer and you almost feel like you are being pulled round the bend

The tyres provided are made in Spain 215/45R16 91V ‘extra load’ Bridgestone Turanzas. The tyres are grippy and performance oriented, but they aren’t the quietest tyres around. The recommended tyre pressures are quite odd: 39 psi front and 35 psi rear for light load going up to 45 psi front and 39 psi rear for full load. At these pressures the 45 profile tyres become rock hard and the ride is extremely harsh. I have brought it down as I’ve mentioned before for city use and that seems to help matters. For the highway I think I’ll have to stick to manufacturer recommendations. Odd tyre size this for our market as no other car seems to come with this size. Come replacement time, I hope VW supports me with tyre sourcing.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 9th November 2017 at 09:29.
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Exterior design

The Polo is a familiar face on Indian roads. VW has been selling the Mk5 Polo in India since 2009. There was mild facelift in 2014. The mark 6 Polo has been launched worldwide but it won’t be coming to India as of now. This is the Mark 5 facelifted Polo GTI also called the 6C Polo GTI. Since VW is not selling the Golf here and obviously no Golf GTI, they decided to call this car the Volkswagen GTI instead of Polo GTI. I think that’s a bit lame. Their primary audience for this car are the enthusiasts and enthusiasts know their cars. So no thank you VW, I’ll refer to the car as the Polo GTI, because that’s what it really is. The exteriors are unmistakably Polo and only hard-core Euro car enthusiasts will realise it’s not your run of the mill regular Polo. The body shell is basically the same. The front end gets a GTI honeycomb gril with the signature red stripe that extends into the headlights. Looks neat. The lower bumper also has a honeycomb mesh with a black skirting attached to the outer edges. Some of the bumper highlights don’t stand out as much on the black car as they do on other coloured cars. But the red stripe and the GTI badge really stand out and together with the led DRLs and neat headlamps, look really classy when viewed head on.

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0063.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0094.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0099.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0082.jpg

At the back you get a rear spoiler for the hatch and a diffuser that houses twin chrome tail pipes. The diffuser also gets that plastic skirting to complete the look. The rear end is clean and classy and the only badge you’ll see from behind is the chrome lettered GTI badge. At night the Euro style tail lamps and white led number plate lights look cool.

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0093.jpg

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One will hardly notice the two door layout from the side profile. For a change I love the OE alloys. They seem to be of really high quality. ‘Salvador’ grey metallic is what VW calls it. The glossy paint finish on them is really top notch and I feel it really suits the black GTI. The slightly lowered suspension also ups the looks factor. Overall the GTI is a smart looking car, but it does not scream for attention. It slips under the radar mostly and frankly that is what I want. At times a big badge can be a liability. On very rare occasions I see some people getting excited when they realise it’s a GTI. The exhaust note and the front end are easy give aways. Mainly because it is such a rare car. I am yet to spot another GTI in Bangalore! I also like the non ricer looks. Many car makers go overboard with their sporty offerings. The GTI has that matured no nonsense look about it. One look and any car enthusiast can tell that this is a F A S T car.

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0066.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0073.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0075.jpg

Interiors
The Polo GTI’s interiors carry the same standard interior design as the regular Polos with a few major differences. VW brought the car to India as a CBU and there is a big difference in the build quality between this and the made in India Polo. As per VIN decoding, the car was built in VW's plant in Pamplona Spain. The car comes with all black interiors including A, B pillars and the headliner. The dashboard is made with high quality soft touch materials unlike hard plastic you find in regular Polos. VW is known for its quality interiors and the GTI is no different. Switchgear quality is excellent. Things like the headlight switch, gear lever, steering wheel and column stalks all reek of quality. The gear shift paddles though, are made of cheap plastic. The GTI steering wheel with red contrast stitching is a real highlight inside the cabin. It’s a size smaller than the regular Polo steering and the leather wrap and aluminium inserts are made of high class stuff. The horn pad is a bit difficult to reach with your thumb though. It’s got all the usual switches that control the infotainment system and the cluster. Audio mute button is strangely missing.

The GTI also gets an upgraded cluster with full analog fuel and temp gauges. The MID is also more detailed with the possibility of displaying driving and trip data, mileage statistics, music selection and a lap timer! There’s also an option to display the oil temperature as well. The cluster has an ambient light sensor which allows it to adjust the back lighting intensity on its own. Kind of how a smart phone works. If it’s too bright inside, the screen is lit up the brightest. In low light, it turns the back lighting off. It may seem like the logic is reversed, but there is a good safety logic behind it. If you keep the back lighting on in low light, people may forget to turn their headlamps on.

The GTI gets a touch screen audio unit. The display is crisp and clear. I particularly like how it comes to life with a nice ‘Welcome to Volkswagen’ start up screen followed by the ‘GTI’ logo that fades in slowly. You can also alter a lot of the car’s setting using the ‘CAR’ option on the head unit. A neat touch is a proximity sensor which detects your hand as you reach up to the screen to show extended menus. When in ‘off’ mode, you can chose to display an analog clock (3 styles to choose from ) or a digital clock with date. The audio quality is very good to my non audiophile ears. Four speakers on the doors and two tweeters on the A pillars do a very good job. I have no plans of upgrading the audio set up. Android Auto is sorely missed.

Another GTI highlight are the tartan sport seats and they make a huuuuge difference. The seats are excellent in terms of support. They have good side bolstering that hold you in nicely when driving around bends and they have good thigh support too. Both driver and passenger seats have height adjustments. The seat fabric is made of excellent quality. The cushion is firmer than regular Polos and even after long drives you will not complain. The regular Polo’s front seats are rubbish in comparison. The rear seats too are more supportive and more comfortable simply because of good quality firm cushioning and moulding.

VW has been stingy in equipping the Indian GTI. OK I can forgive them for not giving the sport button with adaptive suspension. But why take away things like auto dimming rear view mirror and auto headlamps? The latter is odd considering the fact that the sensor is present. I also miss memory seats as both me and dad use the car and it’s a pain for both of us to find our respective positions quickly after the other has messed up the setting. But otherwise the Polo is very good ergonomically. It is a small car, but even for large individuals there is ample headroom, shoulder room, elbow room, thigh support etc… The front seats have a long travel range for fore and aft adjustments and also for height. The steering also adjusts for reach and rake and you can be very precise with your driving position. All the controls are logically laid out in typical VW fashion and easy to reach for the driver. This Polo has been around a long time and is really quite sorted.

The sound insulation is very good inside the car and outside noises stay outside, at city speeds at least. The two door layout helps as the rear is completely sealed. The doors have thicker rubber beadings compared to other Polos.

The two door layout is a royal pain when you have to carry rear passengers. I wish we had got the four door variant. With the mark 6 Polo, VW have done away with the two door variant and for good reason. To get to the back, you have to lift up a fragile looking lever on the front seat’s shoulder, tilt the backrest up, slide the base ahead if you want and slip into the back. Problem is in India two door cars in India are rarer than UFOs in America and no one knows how to get into the back. I am also worried my kids who love to get into the back will break the fragile seat tilting lever. The test drive car had this lever broken btw. Problem gets compounded when you have to drop off elderly relatives or your parent’s friends. You can’t just stop your car in the side and ask them to alight. You have to stop, get down yourself and pull the seat up and help them alight. All this can be very difficult in crowded places and high density cities like Bangalore.

Because of the two door layout the doors are larger and the B pillar is pushed back a bit. As a result you need more space to open the door. The pushed back B pillar also makes it difficult to reach out and pull the seat belt. All these problems could have been avoided with a proper four door.

The boot in the Polo GTI is compromised a bit due to the presence of the battery in there. In order to accommodate the battery, the boot floor sits higher. You lose about 70 lts of boot space compared to the regular Polo. But it’s not really a deal breaker. I don’t think I’ll be carrying a lot of luggage in this car. Full family outings will be in the X3 only. The boot is still wide and deep and there is no load lip now due to the higher boot floor. The higher boot floor also gives you a nice flat loading bay with the rear seats folded down. The rear seats have a 60:40 folding which gives some added flexibility. The seat folding mechanism is the same as that found on the X3!

The GTI comes with a good list of safety features. Six airbags, rear disc brakes, ESP, ABS, XDS, 3 point seat belts for 3 pax in the rear, isofix points (good luck getting the child seat through) , front and rear parking sensors. Seat belt reminders with audio beeps for both front seats is another useful feature. The GTI also gets full underbody protection just like the Laura. Only thing you can see from underneath is the exhaust pipe and the cat con.

Frameless wipers
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0115.jpg

Spot the battery under the spare wheel
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0127.jpg

Big doors.
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0120.jpg

Arm rest not only has the cloth insert, there is foam padding underneath
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0121.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
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Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0125.jpg  

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0130.jpg  

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0133.jpg  

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0134.jpg  


Last edited by Santoshbhat : 9th November 2017 at 09:41.
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Old 8th November 2017, 23:48   #7
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

More pictures...

Nice pedals
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0137.jpg

DSG gear Lever. Notice the base is different from the GT TSI
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0136.jpg

Crisp graphics on the infotainment screen
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0139.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0142.jpg

Lap timer!
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0143.jpg

IRVM does not auto dim
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0144.jpg

Tweeter on A pillar
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0145.jpg

Tartan Sport seats
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0146.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0147.jpg

Getting in to the rear seats needs some athletic ability
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0148.jpg

Once in, the rear seats are comfortable
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0149.jpg

No Auto headlights
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0151.jpg

DRLs in action
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0157.jpg

Red brake calipers look swell
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0162.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0166.jpg

Spot the minor difference in ride height compared to the GT TSI and the larger discs
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0117.jpg

Close look at the diffuser and skirting
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0168.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0167.jpg

Euro style tail lamps look cool at night
Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0178.jpg

Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI-img_0174.jpg


I hope the GTI stays reliable. I will be holding on to the car for a while. I am particularly worried about the DSG. It seems like DSG woes are not over yet and the DQ200 is one black sheep in the VW litter. Iíve purchased the 2+2 year extended warranty for a pricey sum of 60K.

I am completely smitten by the Polo GTI. It is one heck of a car. To be honest I had lower expectations from the car when I bought it. The car has totally surprised me with its abilities. The size is really ideal for our crowded cities and it delivers when it comes to driving pleasure Ė the main reason why I bought this car. I have no idea of modding the car for now, not till the extended warranty expires at least. I will try and keep the thread updated as much as possible. Thanks for reading!
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Old 9th November 2017, 19:01   #8
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

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Moving into main forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th November 2017, 19:19   #9
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Loved reading the review, rated 5 stars. FE figure was really impressive

Quote:
I have no idea of modding the car for now, not till the extended warranty expires at least.
Not sure how reliable it would be, considering the transmission. Petes and Code 6 have already remapped GTI in India. I believe a stage 1 remap would be more than enough.

Last edited by Dr.Naren : 9th November 2017 at 19:20.
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Old 9th November 2017, 19:19   #10
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Congrats buddy, I had a chance to drive the car the other day. The one thing which stood out the most was the brakes and the suspension. It is stiff, but it ride gets better with speed. It is a proper hot hatch, Congratulation once again.
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Old 9th November 2017, 20:05   #11
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
I hope the GTI stays reliable. I will be holding on to the car for a while. I am particularly worried about the DSG. It seems like DSG woes are not over yet and the DQ200 is one black sheep in the VW litter. Iíve purchased the 2+2 year extended warranty for a pricey sum of 60K.

I am completely smitten by the Polo GTI. It is one heck of a car. To be honest I had lower expectations from the car when I bought it. The car has totally surprised me with its abilities. The size is really ideal for our crowded cities and it delivers when it comes to driving pleasure Ė the main reason why I bought this car. I have no idea of modding the car for now, not till the extended warranty expires at least. I will try and keep the thread updated as much as possible. Thanks for reading!
Lovely detailed review Sir. I did TD the car when it came out, but the 30 odd for this car made me wonder!!

My dad has a GT TSI and I do know how it feels as I have predominantly used the car

My question is "How do you find the engine braking in this car / GB combo"?

Have a great time enjoying the car!
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Old 9th November 2017, 20:30   #12
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

The car looks great in black! A great car and review to go with it. A true hot hatch indeed.
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Old 9th November 2017, 20:41   #13
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Default re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

A true enthusiastic garage you own out there, @Santoshbhat sir.

A GT TSi for the city runabouts, GTI and the X3 30d for highway runs is a dream for many. The GTI is a hell of a beast save for the pricing which played a spoilsport in an otherwise flawless car.

Since you'd even considered the Mini and 330i, didn't you consider the vRS which is more of a bang for the buck. A question which was in my mind wandering for quite long.

Nonetheless, it's a hell of a garage and a dream garage for many. You're living the dream sir .

Wishing you many miles and happy smiles with this beast which is dressed in a sheep's clothing.

Varun
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Old 9th November 2017, 23:36   #14
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Default Re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

Thanks a lot for sharing the details. Wish you happy miles on my dream hatchback. Any plans to drive this on track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
The engine in the GTI produces 192 PS and returns 13.60 kmpl
With great power comes great responsibility - Uncle Ben.
Your GTI is making sure you enjoy the ride, rather than worrying about Petrol pump visits.
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Old 10th November 2017, 09:54   #15
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Default Re: Hot Hatch Fever - My Volkswagen Polo GTI 1.8L TSI

A great looking car, an absolute beauty !!! Performance and looks, what a combination. It's not common for people to buy such cars as we know. Whatever people say and whatever the interests are, it's always the head over the heart for most. Most can only dream about owning such a car, definitely we envy you.

Enjoyed the review. Time to burn some rubber, have fun and drive safe
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