Red-hot Polo is fun-tastic

vw polo gti
vw polo gti

VOLKSWAGEN’S little Polo has been a big performer for the company since it was launched in 1975 – being the best-selling model behind the Golf.

It’s a little gem for VW and continues to be a top attraction with prices starting at £9,995.

I’ve driven a few of these models in the past but none has been as exciting as the latest one I sampled – a red pocket rocket GTi.

It was twice the cost of the cheapest model with a price tag of £18,795 but owners will tell you it’s worth every penny for the fun factor they get from it.

Performance

The three-door test car came in bright red and had the performance to match its super racing looks which included the GTi styling pack – shaped front and rear bumpers with honeycomb front air intake, body-coloured rear spoiler, red brake callipers, chrome-trimmed radiator grille and front air intake surrounds as well as 17-inch Monza alloy wheels – and GTi badging.

It’s just as sporty inside with super-comfort front sports seats, Jacara tartan-trimmed cloth seats, GTi logos and aluminium-look pedals.

There’s a 1.4-litre twin-charged petrol engine under the bonnet and boy does it pack a punch.

The 178bhp comes through VW’s seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox and gives a sprint time of just 6.9 seconds from standstill to 62mph and a whopping top speed of 142mph.

You can leave the auto box setting in drive or sport mode or use the steering wheel paddles if you want to go up and down the gears manually.

Whatever you choose you won’t be disappointed.

There is a terrific sound from the engine as you hit the high revs in sport mode and kick-down brings an instant surge of power.

Ideal to drive in town and super to push along on winding roads with its superb handling, the Polo GTi would also be comfortable for long motorway drives with its comfortable seating.

It does seem a bit expensive but this model was up there with the best cars I have driven in recent years.

Despite its high-performance stats it also returns pretty good economy figures – 37.7mpg urban, 55.4mpg extra-urban and 47.9mpg combined.

The next test car I sampled after this came from the same stable – VW’s Jetta – a completely different model.

This is a medium-sized saloon that offers lots of interior space to carry five adults and also has a large 510-litre boot space.

The SE BlueMotion Technology 1.6-litre TDI tested obviously seemed a bit on the tame side as many others would have after my GTi experience.

But this is another fine VW that doesn’t lack quality and is probably better value with its £19,735 tag – prices start at £16.965.

Economy

The car drove well over all types of surfaces and performed quietly and smoothly at motorway speeds.

Moving through a five-speed manual gearbox, it’s not exactly a slouch, accelerating from zero to 62mph in 11.7 seconds and having a top speed of 118mph.

Where this 104bhp diesel engine – fitted with stop/start - scores massive marks though is with its fuel economy figures of 54.3mpg urban, 78.5mpg extra urban and 67.3mpg urban.

The Jetta had its own qualities but unfortunately just came too hard on the heels of the stunning little Polo to really impress me.