The Volkswagen Polo GT was the car that created the trend for hot hatches in India. Despite being in a niche segment, the Polo GT, especially the GT TSI, was the most popular choice among enthusiasts looking for a compact, performance car on a budget. And one of the main reasons for its success was the DSG automatic gearbox. However, for the 2020 model year, Volkswagen India has brought back its pocket rocket but with some key changes. Firstly, the older 1.2-litre TSI motor was replaced by the company’s new smaller capacity 1.0-litre TSI engine that also powers the regular Polo and the Vento. And secondly, the company has replaced the much-loved, yet expensive DSG unit with a more cost-effective 6-speed automatic torque converter unit. We recently got a chance to spend some time with the car to find out if it’s still worthy of that GT tag.
Design and Styling
Before we get into how the car drives, let’s get some of the other aspects out of the way. Now, in terms of looks, the new Polo GT is very much similar to the 2020 VW Polo we drove recently, however, some visual markers differentiate it from the standard hatchback. Most notably, the GT badge on the new honeycomb grille, black outside rear-view mirrors (ORVM), a new, bigger roof-mounted spoiler, also treated in black, and of course, the GT badge on the tailgate, and the ‘GT TSI’ lettering on the C-pillar.
Also Read: 2020 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Review
The rest of the car looks identical to the regular Polo. You continue to get the same dual-beam halogen headlamps, a wide central airdam, and a pair of sleek foglamps. If not LEDs, at least set of projector headlamps would have been a welcome addition. The car also gets the same 16-inch, 10-spoke Portago alloy wheels that are offered with the Highline Plus variants, along with a pair of smoked taillamps.
Interior and Features
Step inside the cabin and you’ll notice that except for the new automatic gear lever, nothing has changed. The cabin continues to come with same all-black interior with matching fabric upholstery in chequered design and the same dashboard layout. Like the regular Polo, the GT TSI also comes with a multi-functional, flat-bottom steering wheel that can be adjusted for both tilt and reach, and it’s wrapped in faux leather as well.
You get the same the touchscreen infotainment system as well, featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, along with Bluetooth, AUX-IN and USB connectivity. Also, while it does get the ‘Climatronic’ automatic air-con system, the new GT misses out on the front centre arm rest and rear AC vents, both of which, weirdly enough, are offered with the Highline Plus variant, which is cheaper.
The 2020 Volkswagen Polo GT TSI also comes with a decent amount of safety features like – dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, anti-pinch power windows, rear parking sensors and auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror, all of which have been carried over from the Highline Plus trim. However, this one too doesn’t come with a rear parking camera, which is a big miss considering even cars in a segment bellow offer it, at least as an option. Having said that, it does come with Electronic Stability Control and Hill Hold Control.
Engine and Transmission
As we mentioned before, the new Polo GT comes with the carmaker’s new three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine that replaces the older four-cylinder 1.2-litre TSI motor. It’s the same engine that powers the regular Polo and Vento sedan. The 999 cc turbocharged petrol engine offers a maximum output of 108 bhp, which is 4 bhp more than what the older Polo GT TSI, plus it is offered between the same 5000 to 5500 rpm band as before. The torque output, on the other hand, remains unchanged at 175 Nm, however, because it’s a three-pot motor, the torque kicks in at 1750 rpm and stay up till 4000 rpm, instead of the older GT’s 1500 to 4100 rpm band, but you don’t really notice the difference. Yes, you still feel a bit of turbo lag in the lower revs, but as soon as you cross the 2000 rpm mark, the turbo kicks in and the engine shows its true colours. Also, the compact size of the Polo GT TSI makes it an excellent city car, yet the powerful engine ensures that it can do highway runs with equal ease.
Also Read: 2020 Volkswagen Vento 1.0 TSI Review
The bigger change here, of course, is the new 6-speed automatic torque converter unit. Now, when Volkswagen first announced its decision to replace the DSG unit with a torque converter, we were certainly not thrilled, because it felt like a major step-down. However, now after driving it, I have to say, I am fairly surprised by its performance. Yes, it’s not as precise and engaging as the DSG unit, but in no way does it feel like a downgrade of any sorts, in fact, the shifts are quick, it’s responsive and certainly quite fun to drive. That said, there is a tad delay when it downshifts, but that has been done to conserve fuel, but that doesn’t really take away the fun from driving. Well if you are wondering, the new Polo GT TSI offers an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 16.47 kmpl, which is just marginally lower than the older GT’s 17 kmpl figure.
However, if you want to make it a bit more engaging, all you need to do is shift it to sport mode and voila! You’ll notice that the shifts become more aggressive and the overall the car feels a bit more responsive and quicker. However, you’ll also feel the jerks inside the cabin when the shifts happen, because it lacks the refinement that came with the dual-clutch technology of the older DSG unit. While you have to live with that, it is certainly not a dealbreaker by any measure. Although, if you want the controls in your hands, then Volkswagen also offers a manual mode with Tiptronic function, however, you longer get paddle shifter, and that’s certainly a bummer.
Ride and Handling
With regards to ride and handling, the new Polo GT TSI has certainly still got the magic. Yes, the suspension is quite stiff, which means you do feel some of the undulations on the road, but unless you go over a big pothole or something, you get used to it very quickly. The car’s handling prowess, on the other hand, is still unbeatable. Be it on straight roads or corners, the Polo GT handles like a charm and doesn’t waver at all. The steering, in general, has been set a bit on the heavier side, and it further weighs up nicely while taking a corner, imparting more confidence, even at higher speeds.
The Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is right now the only hot hatch that is still on sale in this segment, as both its rivals – Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS and Fiat Abarth Punto are discontinued. At ₹ 9.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI is almost at par with the older GT variant, and just about ₹ 47,000 more expensive than the regular Highline Plus automatic trim of the new Polo. But for that premium, you get a bit more engaging and a performance-oriented car that will certainly appeal to the driver in you. Yes, it misses out on some creature comforts that have become common in this segment but, one does not buy the Polo GT for its premium features, one buys it for its strong build, exciting performance, and enjoyable driving manners. And that, the 2020 Polo GT TSI offers in plenty.