In early 2020, Volkswagen introduced the BS6 Polo, all versions of which are powered by petrol motors. So it’s the end of the road for the diesel. But to top it off, the earlier GT TSI (103bhp/175Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder) with its acclaimed DSG gearbox, the crème-de-la-crème variant so to say, has been ditched completely for the BS6-compliant 109bhp/175Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol that uses a six-speed torque converter automatic. So, are you left with nostalgia after driving the new GT TSI around? Do read on to find out.
If you’re a long-standing admirer (owner probably) of the Polo’s design like us, you can certainly shy away from the looks saying that it still looks classy or neat, or the cliché ‘it has aged gracefully’. But that’s just a load of baloney. Truth be told, this design looks old, feels old, and ‘is’ old because many markets worldwide have already upgraded to the newer generation Volkswagen Polo. Offering some solace though is the sportiness induced by the sleek nose, the overall sharp design lines, and a reasonably handsome backside.
No apparent changes here either. It’s an all-black, minimalistic, function-over-form cabin that directs all of one’s attention to, you guessed it right, driving! Then, there’s the iconic plaid upholstery that, when combined with the dated but uncluttered design, brings back some nostalgia of driving a car of yesteryear. Be that as it may, quality levels along with fit and finish are comparable to today’s standards. The front seats in particular are comfortable with good levels of support, especially of the lateral type, so that one stays in place while moving fast past corners.
Even visibility all around is excellent. However, thigh support all across should have been better. Likewise, the rear bench offers just about enough head- and knee-room for an average-sized adult, and at best, makes it comfiest for two occupants only. This is also partially due to the restrictive centre tunnel and the absence of rear AC vents that can make the going sultry if the occupants are bunched together. Rear seat practicality too isn’t great with no door-pad space or seatback pockets!
It’s the same case with the boot since the rear bench does not have split-folding. So heavy-packers are stuck with the 280-litre which can be a limiting factor for overnighters. Features-wise this top-end variant’s got auto AC, cruise control, one-touch control for all four windows, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensor, dual-front airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, and hill hold. There’s also a contemporary touchscreen infotainment system with connectivity options in the form of Volkswagen Connect along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The GT TSI in its new cleaner breathing BS6 iteration uses VW’s 109bhp/175Nm 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder turbocharged motor, which when compared to its predecessor, makes an extra six bhp. Power is laid onto the tarmac via the front wheels through a six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. As you crank this motor, you get none of the NVH that’s usually associated with three cylinders. Now, once on the move, the first thing that you spot is the eagerness of this motor to creep ahead and get going. And as soon as you feed it some throttle, the power delivery crisply unfolds to serve you much more.
Sadly, in stop-go traffic, this can be a tad too much to handle. This essentially means that one needs to initially master the pressure from the right foot so that the motor doesn’t get so carried away that you’re urged to brake constantly in traffic. All said I admit that this motor brings about the bad boy in you. Its free-revving nature coupled with the almost instant surge of power makes it worthy of that GT badge. Out on the highway, the GT TSI picks up pace rather effortlessly with absolutely no buzz even when wrung hard to the rev limit. No matter where the revs are sitting in the powerband, one just needs to get on the throttle for the burst of acceleration to happen with little to no delay.
Alternatively, in S mode, the power delivery is more aggressive, and going full throttle here can surprisingly pin you into the seat! Now, there is a drawback. The up- and downshifts on this torque convertor gearbox are pronounced; almost like a pause. Those who’ve experienced the earlier DSG gearbox will sorely miss it, but if you haven’t, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Since its inception, the GT TSI has attracted those who needed a pocket rocket with a great ride and handling combo. And that hasn’t changed. So it continues with the taut ride quality at slower speeds, which then transitions to a rather flat and absorbent one as the Polo hits highway speeds.
These characteristics lend it good stability, even over mildly patchworked roads. Surprisingly, the Polo’s road-hugging stance with the low chin can trick you into taking speed breakers extra carefully, but that’s not the case even over the nasty ones. As expected, the Polo’s steering is direct, quick, progressive, and with just the right amount of heft to give you confidence while driving fast past the bends. Our only gripe is that the steering should’ve felt lighter at slower speeds, just to aid manoeuvring into tight parking spaces or alleys.
Being a driver’s car, the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI tugs at your heart and not your head. So it’s certainly possible to overlook the practical aspects of the package if need be. Sure, the gearbox may not be up to the purist’s mark, but the intense dynamic that’s mated to the new 1.0-litre TSI motor still makes it a hoot to drive. After our stint with the latest Polo GT TSI, we affirm that it continues to be the enthusiast’s hatchback. So, for all of you enthusiasts out there - hip hip hurray!
Pictures by Kapil Angane