Test-Drive Series: VW Polo GTI 2.0

(4 minute read with Review Video - scroll to bottom)

Disclaimer: this isn’t a traditional blog/review post about cars, this is a series where I visit dealerships as a buyer and document my experience. The aim of these posts is to equip readers with quick glances of the automotive world in a real-life situations including trade-in scenarios.

The first car tested in this series was close to home, I chose this car because I have owned my fair share of GTIs.

To begin, let’s clarify, what most call the Polo 6 is actually the Polo 5 with its facelift - both pictured side by side below, okay, sharp, thank you for coming to my TEDTalk.


Fast Fact: GTI is an abbreviation for Grand Tourer Injection | Volkswagen is loosely translated to: ‘Car (wagen) of the People (volks)’

All those that have had the pleasure of driving these pocket rockets know that its a B-segment performance car with good fuel consumption however its biggest claim to fame was also its Achilles heel, the dry-clutch 7 speed DSG. As amazing as this transmission is, most who have owned a DSG powered Polo GTI probably had to encounter some maintenance work on it too.

Then in 2018, VWSA launches the Uitenhage built, 2 litre powerplant with a wet-clutch 6 speed Polo GTI that finally features the beloved Launch Control in a Polo GTI.


Engine: 2L

Power: 147kW

Torque: 320Nm

Transmission: 6 Speed DSG

Price Offered with all extras: R441 000

MCave: Test-Drive Series Polo GTI (PICS).jpg

The new exterior design isn’t for everyone especially without the optional Brescia 18’’ rims because the standard 17’’ Milton Keynes taken from its bigger brother, the Golf GTI feel rather dated, now more than ever when combining the design with the new sleek dimensions and angles of the new Polo GTI.

Fortunately, my test unit was fitted with the eye-gazing new 18 inch wheels that sat quite comfortably with the use of Sport Select (adaptive suspension dampers somewhat lowering the car by 15mm) giving you options to ride in Eco, Comfort, Individual (personal customized settings) and the harderned adrenaline rush blasting much louder ‘VrrPha’ audio notes in Sport Mode.

The interior is where the real enjoyment lies, unfortunately my test unit even though I explicitly requested a test vehicle fitted with one, was not equipped with the new digital Active Info Display (what we lovingly call, a Digital Dash) even so, to purchase, I would really opt for it, not only does it look more modern but the standard odometer in the new generation doesn’t have the macho, tech-savvy appeal a GTI should have in my opinion.

MCave: Test-Drive Series Polo GTI 4.jpg

Fast Fact: Many VW vehicles are named after winds, Golf referring to a Gulf stream while the Polo references Polar winds

The keyless start button was definitely one of my highlights, it has been long awaited that even a Polo driver can start up without manually winding up the ignition with a key.

If I had one wish, it would be a Parking Brake button similar to the Golf as it would’ve easily created more interior space for things like a bigger arm rest perhaps?

MCave: Test-Drive Series Polo GTI 2

Another stand out feature was the Performance Monitor found in the updated infotainment system, this has been thoroughly enjoyed and loved by Golf owners especially when setting the car to its paces.

The full leather seats definitely upgrade the predecessor’s cabin with an enhanced premium feeling from the part leather, part Alcantara seats found in the predecessors.

Test Drive Series Polo GTI

I really love cars that have technology in mind so when I realized that the new Polo was fitted with two USB ports in the centre console and an additional two for rear passengers, I was grinning from eye to eye knowing my phone would never be bothered by passengers who required a charging slot.

Oh, did I mention that you can get wireless charging too?!

The new infotainment system is better positioned to ensure a better view of the road while you’re driving as opposed to the predecessor not that you’ll be looking at it much if you opt for the Active Info Display.

What I’ve found peculiar in this new model is the interior colour trim, since my test unit was Flash Red the interior trim was black because the trim colour cannot match the exterior, strange right?

MCave: Test-Drive Series Polo GTI 3.jpg

What I love:

1.         Keyless access and Start-up

2.         Launch Control

3.        4 USB ports (plus Wireless Charging) and Apple CarPlay

What I don’t like:

1.         LED headlights are not standard, the 5th generation facelift had these as standard at GTI level and trust me, you definitely want to stretch your budget for the LEDs (and the Active Info Display)

2.         Standard 17 inch rims are dated

3.         Not much performance change with the bigger engine

My test unit was literally brand new with only 20kms on the odometer so I decided not to churn the engine much thus performing a Launch Controlled take off was not on the agenda during my test drive however should you test or purchase one, make sure that you do!

The People’s Car in South Africa definitely didn’t disappoint.

MCave: Test-Drive Series Polo GTI 3

What about Trade-in?

My biggest let down was felt in this area, a brand new Polo GTI with all the extras taking account a trade-in of my 2017 VW with under 40 000kms was quoted at R500 000. Yes, this figure included a shortfall over R50 000 (FIFTY THOUSAND RAND) which I thought was rather outrageous in my opinion however this is just my experience and you could probably get a better trade-in if you shop around too.

Check out the quick video review round up below:

Have you driven or would like to drive the new Polo GTI, share your thoughts in the comments section or on our social channels.


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