The Volkswagen Polo GTI hot hatch and Audi A1 40 TFSI have been treated to a performance bump in Europe – but an Australian launch appears unlikely for the foreseeable future.
A rolling change from March 2021 production onwards, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine powering the Polo GTI (and its Audi A1 Sportback 40 TFSI twin under the skin) in Europe now develops 152kW and 320Nm – up 5kW over the 147kW/320Nm tune previously offered (and still available in Volkswagen showrooms in Australia).
Crucially, it's now paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – up from six speeds – cutting the 0-100km/h sprint time to 6.5 seconds (down two tenths of a second), and increasing the top speed to 240km/h (up 2km/h).
The six-speed manual continues to be off-limits from Volkswagen's second-smallest hot hatch. Front-wheel drive is standard.
Combined fuel economy claims on Europe's WLTP test cycle have decreased from 7.3-7.1L/100km in the outgoing GTI model – with the exact consumption claim dependent on wheel size and options fitted – to 7.1-6.8L/100km in the Model Year 2021 GTI. Both vehicles are fitted with emissions-busting petrol particulate filters not fitted to Australian-delivered Polo GTIs.
The minor power bump and new transmission comes just a few months ahead of the unveiling of a facelifted Polo GTI in June 2021, which is all but confirmed to feature the uprated 2.0-litre engine – a mill which now becomes the most powerful among the Polo GTI's remaining key front-wheel-drive rivals, the 150kW/275Nm Hyundai i20 N and 147kW/290Nm Ford Fiesta ST.
While the updated Polo GTI (and A1 40 TFSI) will out-power its rivals in Europe, it's unlikely the power boost and upgraded gearbox will make their way to Australia, given European-delivered models are fitted with fragile, emissions-busting petrol particulate filters not tailored for Australia's high-sulphur fuel.
Speaking to CarAdvice, a Volkswagen spokesperson wouldn't rule out the performance changes for our market, but noted it "wouldn't be the first time" an Australian-delivered Volkswagen model used a different engine tune to its European counterpart – even after the 'hot climate' designation previously applied to our market was removed in 2019.
As for the Audi A1 Sportback 40 TFSI, a spokesperson for the brand's local arm confirmed "no change" is planned to Australian-delivered models' engine tunes.
The uprated 2021 Volkswagen Polo GTI and Audi A1 Sportback 40 TFSI are on sale now in Europe.
The facelifted 2022 Volkswagen Polo GTI will be revealed at the end of June 2021, ahead of an Australian launch in the second quarter of 2022 (April to June inclusive), likely powered by the current car's 147kW/320Nm engine tune and six-speed transmission.