Geneva Motor Show: Volkswagen Polo GTi

The GTI made a welcome return to the Polo line-up at Geneva. The diminutive hot hatch gets the same 1.4 TSI twincharger under the bonnet as the Seat Ibiza Cupra. The engine combines a supercharger and a turbocharger to deliver 178bhp via the front-wheels.

Like the Ibiza, the Polo will get VW's seven-speed DSG as standard, and hit 60mph in 6.9secs. The GTI will be available in three and five-door form, and gets a frightening array of three letter safety features to keep the performance in check (ESP, ASR, EDS etc).

Underneath, the GTI comes with stiffer dampers and springs which lower the car by 15mm compared to the normal Polo. Predictably, VW is making the usual promises about dynamic excellence and ride quality.

The GTI is differentiated from the standard Polo by the usual bodywork additions, including honeycomb radiator grill, flared wheel arches, rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Make no doubt about it, the Polo GTI is a good looking car – perhaps better looking than the press pictures initially revealed. If the standard Polo resembles a shrink-wrapped Golf, the GTI does an almost uncanny impression of its bigger brother from a distance.

This is no bad thing, and helps to make the car look bigger than it actually is, although it's worth remembering that Volkswagen supermini is now the same size as the old mk2 Golf GTI.

The interior is attractive in that slightly dour, serious VW way, and, as always, feels remarkably well-made. Inevitably, the GTI gets unique flourishes around the trim, including a liberal amount of brushed chrome and figure-hugging sports seats.

The car looks and feels the part then, but whether it delivers a thrilling drive or not is another matter entirely. The 1.4 TSI is bound to feel pretty spritely, but the Ibiza Cupra has already shown the platform to be somewhat deficient when it comes to smiles per mile.

We certainly hope that VW has had more success in engineering some driver reward into the Polo GTI, but with that plethora of safety features headlining the car's debut, we wouldn't bet our press passes on it. The Polo GTI is definitely coming to a showroom near you, most likely in August. Prices are expected to start at around 18k.

Geneva Auto Show 2010
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Geneva Motor Show: Volkswagen Polo GTi
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