Rumoured earlier this year, a Volkswagen product communications executive spoke openly about the return of the manual GTI with Australian media at this week’s launch of the facelifted Polo range in Munich, Germany.
“What we can say about GTI … it will have 192hp (141kW), so increased power, and it will be available not only with DSG but also with a manual transmission,” the spokesman revealed.
Volkswagen Australia has confirmed the updated Polo GTI will reach local showrooms in the first half of 2015, and while it won’t comment officially on the manual variant, CarAdvice can confirm it will join the DSG version in our market at that time.
The introduction of the six-speed manual transmission for the Polo GTI means the second-generation, Spanish-built, German-designed pocket rocket will be cheaper than ever. Subtracting the $2500 premium Volkswagen charges for DSG from the current five-door, $29,540 GTI (pictured below) promises a starting price of around $27,000 for the manual variant.
At that price, the Polo GTI would be just $1000 more than the current city-sized hot-hatch benchmark, the $25,990 Ford Fiesta ST. And if Volkswagen were to play hardball and reintroduce the three-door model, it could potentially undercut the blue oval brand's hot-hatch.
Question marks still hang over the updated GTI’s powertrain. Some reports have linked it to a larger 1.8-litre engine, though a mildly uprated version of the existing twin-charged 1.4-litre engine seems most likely.
The spokesman also revealed the engine would not only incrementally increase power from 132kW to 141kW, it would also step up in torque from its current 250Nm output.
“We have improved a lot on every level, so [increased] torque… maybe yes.”
He said the decision to reintroduce the manual transmission option was driven by the desires of motoring enthusiasts.
“It’s a totally different class but the Porsche 911 GT3, the PDK, alright, it’s fine… Maybe I’m a little bit old fashioned, but with a sports car … I want to work, I want to work with the car.”
The original Polo GTI teamed a manual transmission with a 1.8-litre turbo engine.