Volkswagen Polo GTI (2017 – present) | Expert Rating

ByPunta Dewa

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Volkswagen Polo GTI (2017 – present) | Expert Rating


Now in its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Polo GTI is the performance model at the top of the popular Polo range, which sits between the Up! GTI and Golf GTI in Volkswagen’s GTI line-up.

The Polo GTI differentiates itself from the regular Polo range by donning its signature GTI flair, including additional badges, sportier bumpers, and a small roof spolier. Inside, the Polo GTI has the equipment levels of the standard Polo Life trim, and a thatched seat design unique to the GTI family.

Under the hood, Volkswagen swapped out the regular Polo’s turbocharged 1.0-litre engine for a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit, similar to the engine found in a Mk6 Golf GTI. Only available as a seven-speed automatic, the Polo GTI produces 197hp, allowing it to get from 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds; almost four seconds faster than the regular 94hp model.

A facelift for the whole Polo range arrived in 2022, giving the Polo GTI an exterior design refresh and a few new tech editions ported from the Mk8 Golf.

Facing off against other small hot hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N, reviewers from the UK media generally agree that the Volkswagen Polo GTI is a strong competitor in its class; the hot hatch’s nippy performance, great build quality and good road manners recieving particular praise.

However, many reviews conclude that the Polo GTI’s sensible nature is also its downfall. “This is as good as a fast Polo has been in living memory”, Top Gear comments, “and super close to the bigger Golf. But it’s not entirely free from the reputation that’s dogged it for generations – that it’s simply too grown up for a hot hatch of this size.”

Honest John agree that the Polo GTI is not the best choice if you are looking for pure driving fun, but that it has its own charms that make it an attractive purchase on its own terms. “The Fiesta ST remains the default choice if you’re after a fun size hot hatchback, but the mature Polo GTI has a slow-burner appeal that you’ll grow to love.”

As of November 2022, the Volkswagen Polo GTI holds an Expert Rating of 61%, which is several points behind the regular Polo range. A facelifted model is set to arrive in the UK very soon, so this could see the rating score move up or down by a few points as the updated model is reviewed by the UK motoring media.

Polo GTI highlights

  • Capable all-rounder
  • Fastest Polo GTI ever
  • Practical interior almost as big as the Golf
  • Quality infotainment system

Polo GTI lowlights

  • More mischievous hot hatches are better fun
  • More rigid ride quality than the regular Polo
  • Pricy compared to rivals
  • Rather high running costs

Key specifications

Body style: Small five-door hot hatch
Engines: petrol
Price: From £28,065 on-road

Launched: Winter 2017/18
Last updated: Spring 2022
Next Update due: TBA

Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.

Safety rating

Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Adult protection: 94%
Child protection: 80%
Vulnerable road users: 70%
Safety assist: 70%

Notes on safety rating

The Volkswagen Polo GTI shares its Euro NCAP rating with the regular Polo range. The Polo was originally tested by Euro NCAP not long after it was launched in 2017 and was awarded a five-star rating.

The facelifted 2021 Polo was re-tested, which saw it awarded a fresh five-star rating in Euro NCAP’s tougher new tests in March 2022. This rating will apply to the facelifted Polo GTI when it arrives in the UK.

Eco rating

Independent economy and emissions ratings from Green NCAP

No eco rating

As of November 2022, The Volkswagen Polo GTI has not been lab tested by Green NCAP.

Reliability rating

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Reliability data provided exclusively for The Car Expert by MotorEasy

All data based on MotorEasy average workshop costs for extended car warranty claims

The Volkswagen Polo range (including the GTI) has a good reliability score of 60% as of November 2022, according to exclusive extended warranty data provided to The Car Expert by our partner MotorEasy. This covers both the current-generation Polo range and previous models.

The average repair cost for the Polo range is relatively affordable, coming at under £600 for extended warranty customers. That said, the most frequent issue with the hatchback is unfortunately one of the most expensive – engine faults will set you back close to £1,100 on average.

If you’re looking at buying a used Volkswagen Polo GTI, make sure any extended warranty you purchase covers all of these potential problem areas.

Similar cars

If you’re looking at the Volkswagen Polo GTI, you might also be interested in these alternatives

Ford Fiesta ST | Hyundai i20 N | Mini Hatch John Cooper Works | Renault Megane RS | Suzuki Swift Sport | Toyota GR Yaris | Volkswagen Up GTI

More news, reviews and information about the Volkswagen Polo GTI at The Car Expert

Updated Volkswagen Polo GTI goes on sale

Updated Volkswagen Polo GTI goes on sale

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