Hot hatches have always been a rare species in India. The definition for the term may really assume a wild meaning in countries with a rich heritage in automobiles. In our economy-conscious car bazaar, however, small hatchbacks with even marginally more power than normal can be termed as ‘hot’. Even so, nothing, and absolutely nothing can be taken away from the manufacturers who show the grit to cater to a relatively miniscule and tough-to-survive segment. Full marks, then, to Volkswagen (VW) for updating their more powerful GT versions of the Polo hatchback. Here’s what you need to know about these go-faster hatchbacks.
Polo GT 1.2 TSI / 1.5 TDI Price: Rs 8.2 lakh
A few weeks ago we brought to you the detailed review of the face- lifted Polo. Styling wise, the new version of VW’s entry-level car gets subtle updates, including mildly altered panels, a new diesel engine, addition of chrome, and some changes made to the interior. The GT duo follows the template set by the regular Polo. Also, the GT twins share the underpinnings with their regular non-GT cousins, so the exterior remains more or less the same. In a bid to differentiate these performance oriented variants, however, VW has made some restrained changes, so a keen eye can make easy distinction.
The biggest dissimilarity is the GT badging on the front grille. In profile, the GT variants get 10- spoke Estrada alloys wheels, different in design to their vanilla variants, though carried over from the previous GT versions. The petrol-powered TSI variant also features a GT TSI badging on the C-pillar. The outside mirrors are painted in black no matter which body colour you choose — similar is the case with the rear spoiler, which comes drenched in black. At the rear, you get GT lettering on the tail-gate to let the stock Polo drivers understand how you managed to overtake them on a straight patch.
Engine and performance
The Polo GT TSI retains the fabled 1.2 TSI turbocharged motor from its GT predecessor. The 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder engine pumps out 105 PS of power at 5,000 rpm and 175 Nm of torque between 1,500-4,100 rpm. The petrol variant comes mated to the delightful 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, which makes us loathe the traditional stick shifter — especially in the monumentally annoying Mumbai traffic.
The turbocharged 1.2-litre motor feels like nothing else in the segment, and endows the GT TSI with unmatched alacrity and pep. The Polo GT TSI develops its peak torque from as low as 1,500 rpm and has it spread out all the way till 4,100 rpm. The engine revs merrily all the way up to 6,000 rpm, and the muffled sporty note it produces on its way there leaves you smitten.
The auto transmission comes equipped with manual mode, where you can shift gears at will by moving the drive selector fore and aft. There is also the Sport mode which changes the shift points to a higher position to allow for maximum acceleration. In addition, the Polo GT TSI also comes equipped with an Electronic Stability Program, which can detect and correct slippage at wheels using an electronic brain. You have the option of turning the feature off in case you are willing to have some fun though.
The 1.5-litre GT TDI Polo, unlike its petrol cousin, trashes its forebear’s engine and adopts the same engine as the 1.5 TDI Polo in a different state of tune. The engine for the go-faster diesel Polo is a variable geometry turbine version of the 4-pot power-plant. It manages to dish out 105 PS of peak power (15 PS more) and 250 Nm of peak torque, which is 20Nm more than the standard 1.5 TDI.
Unlike the previous gen 1.6 GT TDI, the new diesel GT doesn't overwhelm you with a gush of torque post 2,000 revs. It is more linear, more useable and fast without being abrupt. As the torque is cleverly spread in the 1,500-2,500 rpm band, the GT TDI pulls strongly even from lower revs and starts gaining some serious momentum once past the 2,000 rpm mark. Once the turbo kicks in, the GT TDI marches ahead like a locomotive with authority, in a manner rarely found on
The engine, unlike the automatic petrol variant, is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. It’s a slick shifting, easy to use unit with a light clutch and short throws — thoroughly enjoyable. We would, however, have really loved to have the 7-speed DSG automatic on the GT. While the bigger Vento sedan, which is powered by the same engine, has already been equipped with the auto transmission, we’ll have to wait for a bit before the desirable tech makes it on the diesel Polo GT as well.
Ride and handling is class-leading with a firm, yet absorbent ride, exhibiting great poise when thrown around corners. Sure, there is a bit of body roll, but it’s nothing to complain about. Steering isn’t very communicative but lets you maneuver the car accurately on the road. The diesel version feels a tad more nose heavy than its petrol sibling. Both the GT cars are meant for thrills, and they don’t disappoint in providing an exciting drive feel to the discerning driver.
The interior of the GT variants, just like the exterior, is very subtly different from the regular Polo variants. Open the door, step inside, and you are greeted with a door sill plate with GT branding. The two-tone black beige treatment on the non-GT Polo cars has been replaced with a figuratively sporty all-black interior. The centre console, too, gets rid of its silver inserts, and gets it replaced with piano black surrounds.
The instrument console and the overall layout remains the same. We would have fancied a racier font on the dials, though. The standard pedals get replaced by a set of racy steel pedals with rubber ribs. The flat-bottomed, sporty steering wheel is carried over from the standard model. While the interior has been darkened all around, the two-tone ‘Milan’ Titanschwarz fabric upholstery features a light shade of beige in its spine.
The GT variants are the more ‘premium’ offshoots of the Polo, which already commands a premium over the other models in its segment owing to its German pedigree. So they cost. However, the value that these cars bring to the table for an enthusiast is quite unmatched. The Polo 1.2 GT TSI is easily the most exciting and the most convenient petrol car to drive in its segment. Apart from its performance-oriented inclination, the GT TSI also offers itself as a car extremely well-suited for self-driven ladies who want a hassle-free compact urban hatchback.
The GT TDI doesn’t offer as much value as the TSI over its basic variant, but the connoisseurs of diesel power who love surfing on a wave of torque would appreciate the additional shove it has on offer.
Both cars are quite expensive as compared to other similar sized options in the segment, though for those who understand what goes on beneath the running board, the duo, the 1.2 TSI (packed with 7-speed DSG and ESP) in specific, brings something really unique.
So if money is of a lesser concern, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go out and take a test drive. You’ll discover something you haven’t hitherto hit upon in a hatchback.
1. The 10-spoke Estrada alloy wheels are different than the ones on the regular Polo, and are carried over from the previous GT
2. GT variants get sporty steel pedals with rubber ribs for grip
3. Seven-speed twin clutch DSG automatic makes the Polo GT TSI one of the most technologically advanced cars in its segment
4. Instrument console remains unchanged, though we would have liked it to sport a
Polo GT 1.2 TSI / 1.5 TDI
Engine: 1.2 litre, 4-cyl turbo petrol / 1.5 litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Power: 105PS @ 5,000 rpm / 105 PS @ 4,400 rpm
Torque: 175 Nm @ 1,500-4,100 rpm / 250 Nm 1,500 - 2,500 rpm
Fuel efficiency (ARAI): 17.21 kmpl / 19.91 kmpl
Fiat Punto Evo
Fiat recently released the Punto Evo, the revised version of the Grande Punto. In its new version, the hatchback gets some bold, chrome accentuated treatment on its fascia and some interesting changes made to its cabin as well. The stylish hatchback also gets some new features for added value. The car is available with two petrol and two diesel engines. Petrol variants comprise a 1.2-litre 68bhp and 1.4-litre 90 bhp engines. The 1.3- litre diesel version, on the other hand, is available in 75 bhp and 90 bhp flavours.
Price: Rs 4.5-7.2 lakh
Hyundai Elite i20
the Elite i20 looks big, has some bold design details and the most flamboyant set of tail-lamps for its own segment and above. We miss the daytime running lights on the car, which are available for the Euro spec version. In its newest avatar, the i20 continues to feature the 1.2-litre Kappa 2 petrol and the 1.4-litre CRDi diesel units. The 1.4-litre petrol version of the car has been discontinued, though. The Elite i20 scores highly in terms of value, space and features — it’s not as exciting to drive as the Polo or the Punto, though.
Price: Rs 4.9-7.6 lakh
2014 Swift facelift
The new 2014 Swift facelift sports a mildly
re-tweaked front bumper with a bigger air dam, new grille, bezel fog lamps and newly designed alloy wheels. The interiors now benefit from a push start button and a new upholstery with sporty silver accents. Engine options are the same — a 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine with 75 PS of power, and 1.2-litre K-series VVT petrol engine that delivers 84.3 PS of power. The fuel efficiency has improved by 10 per cent over the outgoing Swift. The new ARAI figures stand at 20.4 kmpl for petrol variant and 25.2 kmpl for diesel variant.
Price: Rs 4.4-6.9 lakh