Facelifted Mk6 Volkswagen Polo GTI Officially Revealed

The updated hot Polo gains more than its fair share of styling cues and interior tech from its big brother. 

Coming two months after the hum-drum sixth-generation Polos were updated, Volkswagen has recently revealed the facelifted version of its sporty GTI counterpart. Though what lies underneath remains largely untouched throughout the refresh, the big news here is its new exterior styling and tech that has trickled down from its larger Mk8 Golf big brother. 

Kicking things off with the exterior aesthetics first, the facelifted Polo GTI has essentially gained a shrunken version of the Mk8 Golf GTI’s front fascia. Coming complete with IQ.Light LED matrix headlights and illuminated light-bar running right across front grille, as well as the hexagonal fog lights that are integrated within the honeycomb-shaped air intakes of its refreshed front bumper. 

Speaking of bumpers, the rears are similarly refreshed to complement its new LED rear lights with animated brake light and integrated dynamic indicators. The updated Polo GTI also gains new design 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, with 18-inch items available on the options menu. 

Driving those wheels meanwhile is the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot as per its pre-facelift predecessor, which is mated to the same 7-speed DSG dual clutch transmission. Despite being the essentially same powertrain package however, VW has nevertheless managed to eke out 7 more ponies for a total power and torque output of 204 hp and 320 Nm respectively. 

On the topic of performance upgrades, the updated Polo GTI also gains the typical smattering of sporty chassis enhancements over its standard siblings. These includes a sport chassis that sits 15 mm lower to the ground, an electronic front differential, and three driving modes to choose from: Eco, Normal and Sport. 

Much like any other GTI too, this sporty Polo features the typical red interior trim and the iconic tartan seats. New on this facelifted sporty subcompact hatchback however is the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and VW’s updated 8.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen, which can be optioned to 9.2-inch Discover Pro unit with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. 

Other desirable options that can be had with this updated Polo GTI ranges from a panoramic sunroof, voice control, a Beats sound system and Volkswagen’s IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist partially autonomous driving suite. Bringing with it adaptive cruise control, lane assist, side assist and rear traffic alert to the standard autonomous emergency braking and driver alert system. 

Volkswagen has yet revealed the pricing and official arrival date for the facelifted Polo GTI yet, though it is safe to say that it shouldn’t vary far from the £25,000 (RM 145,000) region the pre-updated model currently costs in the UK when it arrives over there later this year. Safe to say too that this facelifted sporty supermini won’t be making it to Malaysia soon, which is a shame. 

PRESS RELEASE: In April, Volkswagen presented the latest evolutionary stage of the sixth generation of Polo. Now comes its sportiest version: the new Polo GTI. The bearer of the legendary acronym spearheads the Polo segment in terms of performance, technology and sportiness. The powerful TSI engine and sports chassis, tailored specifically to the Polo GTI, transform the best-selling compact car into a dynamic, four-door sports car, which also allows semi-automated driving as an option for the first time in a Polo GTI. A host of the latest generation of assistance systems guarantee even greater comfort and safety for all passengers.

In the automobile world, there are three letters that have had a magic sound to them for approaching five decades now: GTI. Since the original GTI in 1976, Volkswagen has ensured that this code is synonymous with outstanding driving pleasure in the compact segment. The Polo has borne the acronym GTI since 1998 – the third model to do so, after the Golf and the Scirocco. The latest generation seamlessly continues the illustrious GTI tradition and sets new benchmarks for compact cars. The technical basis for this is provided by Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB). Across all the model lines, MQB stands for technological progress, high body rigidity, an exemplary low weight, and very good crash properties.

IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist, used for the first time in a Polo GTI, enables semi-automated driving. The system can take over the steering, braking and accelerating of the new Polo GTI from 0 km/h to the control limit of Travel Assist (210 km/h). For longitudinal guidance, IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist calls upon familiar systems like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Latitudinal guidance is supported by Lane Assist, which comes as standard. The driver can activate the system via the Travel Assist button in the redesigned, multifunctional, leather sports steering wheel. The driver’s hands must remain on the steering wheel whilst using this system, meaning the driver is always responsible for the car.

Many new infotainment systems (the latest generation of MIB3.1), which are connected to various services online, ensure state-of-the-art connectivity in the new Polo GTI. An Online Connectivity Unit (OCU) with integrated eSIM makes it possible to use online services from We Connect (prepared for a limited time) and We Connect Plus (prepared for free use in Europe for one or three years). Features like natural voice control, access to streaming services and a cloud-based personalisation using “Volkswagen ID” enhance the latest MIB3.1 system, depending on the equipment line. The integration of such apps as App-Connect Wireless for Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ is now wireless. As in the Polo, instruments and the infotainment system are arranged on a visual axis, ensuring they can be viewed and operated easily in any driving situation. The Digital Cockpit Pro impresses with a higher pixel density, an improved contrast ratio and intense colours, as well as it sheer size – the screen measures 10.25 inches or 26 centimetres diagonally.

Sportiness coupled with efficiency and moderate consumption

The heart of a GTI is always its engine. Like all its predecessors, the new Polo GTI is also front-wheel drive. The turbo-charged, direct petrol injector changes gear via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG), which comes as standard. Among the highlights of the turbo engine in the new Polo GTI, which is installed transversely at the front of the car, are such features as a dual injection system with combined direct and intake-manifold fuel injection, an engine control unit with four core processors, and an electronic valve-lift system on the inlet side. Despite the high output, the engine is impressively efficient with moderate fuel consumption levels. This is aided by the low weight of the new Polo GTI when empty.

As you would expect from a genuine Volkswagen GTI, the new Polo GTI also comes with a sports chassis, tailored specially to the car, as standard. It lowers the chassis by 15 millimetres and guarantees the typical GTI synthesis of driving dynamics, safe neutrality and a high degree of driving comfort.

The new Polo GTI now comes as standard with the new IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights and an illuminated radiator grille bar as a distinctive enhancement to the daytime running light. This sees the sporty new Polo form a stylistic bridge to Volkswagen’s fully-electric ID. models and the new generation of successful models like the Golf, Arteon and Tiguan, which also come with this striking LED light strip, which is typical of new Volkswagens, as an option or depending on the equipment line.

The most striking visual change to the rear of the new Polo GTI is the newly-designed LED rear lights with animated brake light and integrated dynamic indicators, which indicate a change in direction with flowing light movements. The new, GTI-specific bumper gives the compact sports car an even more commanding and broader visual presence on the roads. The Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), which is integrated in the side of the bumper and controlled via the main headlights, has been redesigned and now gives an even more concise lighting effect. In combination with the IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights, it provides a very homogenous illumination of the road and surroundings. The striking red GTI logo on the radiator grille, the honeycomb-shaped ventilation grilles, and the continuous red trim strip above the LED daytime running light strip remain the characteristic GTI insignia at the sharper front of the car. To the right and left, it flows into the IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights with red winglets.

The new Polo GTI is available in five colours: Deep Black Pearl Effect, Smoke Grey Metallic, Kings Red Metallic, Pure White Uni, and Reef Blue Metallic. The latter three chassis colours can be combined with a contrasting black roof as an option (Roof Pack). The car comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. The Polo GTI can also be ordered with optional 18-inch alloys.

On the interior, black, red, grey and chrome are the dominant colours. 

The roof pillars and roof liner are always retained in the Titanium Black trim colour, which is typical of the GTI. Red contrast stitching is also always a typical characteristic of a GTI. It adorns the multifunctional, leather sports steering wheel, which comes as standard, the gear lever trim and the seat surfaces. The optional beats sound system, with 300 watts and six speakers, make for a captivating accoustic experience. The amplifier is located under the floor in the variable cargo area to save space. The luggage capacity of the new Polo GTI is 351 litres.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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