I purchased an MY13.5 Polo GTI after having owned an MY02 Passat and MY07 Jetta TDI because I was looking for something a bit more fun. After eventually giving in to the lack of manual transmission, as this car was to be shared with my partner, I decided the Polo GTI suited my needs for a small, fast, fun and cheap car. It offers the same 0-100 as the Mk6 Golf GTI (which is around $15,000 pricier in DSG form) as well as similar handling and styling.
The interior is far above standards set by rivals Fiesta and Clio Mk3 (and still above the more recent Mk4) with solid feeling plastics, soft dashboard, cool tartan trim and lovely leatherbound flat bottom steering wheel, however the lack of auto headlights is odd.
The touchscreen is a bit last century and can lag, as well as crash occasionally with USB input. Cupholders are a good size but placed under the centre stack so taller drinks such as a large coke from McDonald’s only just fit.
Door bins are huge and can hold 2 litre bottles and the inclusion of underseat drawers can make a huge difference to storing clutter. Driving position for me at 6’3 is acceptable, though the seat could go lower and the centre stack does impinge on leg room.
Rear seats will not flip fold with the front seats all the way back. Boot is adequate for 2 people and folding the seats down allows for Ikea trips, but the spare is classified as a space saver despite being a 185 section.
Looks like a Golf, so no complaints. The headlights are permanently on as DRL’s which only becomes annoying at drive in theatres.
Usual DSG hesitation from a standing start and no launch control thanks to the dry clutch 7sp, but once underway the Polo accelerates impressively for such a small car and engine. The twin charger means there’s not much lag and plenty of grunt right through the rev range.
The ride is harsh bordering on evil around town, but pays off in the twisties where the combination of light weight, wide tyres and XDS electronic diff lock help it put a big dumb grin on your face. Nevertheless, it would still be nice to have a manual gearbox and be able to turn the ESP completely off
Here’s where the problems are. After 20,000Kms, the GTI has used around 7 litres of oil. Currently it’s burning oil at a rate of 0.5L/1000km, which is just within acceptable limits of VW.
Also, when purchased the car steered left, seemingly with the intent of crashing into gutters. One dealer refused to help, another admitted the problem and moved the subframe around, which has improved but not cured the issue.
Thanks to this the super low profile 17″ tyres (read: expensive) have scrubbed awkwardly and are going to need early replacement. Servicing isn’t too expensive, for a Euro car. Fuel use is sitting at 7.5l/100km, improved to sub 5l on the highway, blows out to over 10 in town.
It’s a fun little car, even if it drinks oil like a rotary and likes to veer left everywhere. Well sized, speced and priced, but with the facelift coming out soon with a different engine, manual transmission and more tech, maybe I should have waited…