In an age where every manufacturer is following the two-pedal trend, it is refreshing to see Volkswagen introduce a manual variant of its updated Polo GTI for 2015.
The traditional transmission option coincides with several key upgrades to the latest Polo GTI, long considered the finest blend of baby hot-hatch performance, specification and price.
Of most significance is the new 1.8-litre TFSI turbocharged petrol four-cylinder power unit. Essentially a downsized version of the 2.0-litre turbo found in the current Golf GTI, the new motor produces 141kW, 9kW up on the twin-charged 1.4-litre engine it is replacing.
Interestingly, torque remains static for the seven-speed dual-clutch equipped Polo GTI, at 250Nm. Opt for the cheaper six-speed manual, however, and the torque figure swells to a fulsome 320Nm, to place it at the pointy end of the small hot hatch race. Despite the torque differential, the extra gear of the DSG allows the ratios to be tighter-packed, resulting in ‘the same performance’, according to Volkswagen, despite the DSG’s additional 8kg (1234kg v 1242kg). 0-100km/h is achieved in 6.7sec for either variant.
In manual form, peak power is distributed from 4300-6200rpm, while the DSG tops from 5400-6200rpm. The torque spreads, however, also demonstrate why outright performance is similar, the manual’s high on offer from 1450-4200rpm, with the DSG’s peak spread further: 1250-5300rpm.
The Polo GTI rides 10mm lower at the front and 15mm lower at the rear than standard Polos, thanks to a completely retuned suspension package, though sadly Australian-spec GTIs will not be available with the adaptive damping that grace option lists internationally. A thicker front anti-roll bar reduces roll and increases response.
There’s also a new electro-mechanical steering system, and braking is supplied by 310mm front and 230mm rear discs. Bespoke 17 x 7.5-inch alloys (0.5 inches up on before) and 215/40/17 tyres.
The ESC still can’t be switched all the way off, but an ESC sport driving mode does loosen the thresholds. It works in conjunction with the extended electronic differential lock to reduce understeer.
The 2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI is priced from $27,490 (excluding on-road costs), with the DSG available from $29,990 plus on-road costs.