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First drive review: 2017 VW Mk6 Polo GTI

Review updated by Jay Kay   02 March 2017 12:03 am | Motoring

With a price tag of £18,600, the Volkswagen Polo GTI isn't the cheapest car in the world. It also has high expectations carrying the GTI badge, so does it deliver or disappoint?

Score 3.5 / 5   RRP £18600.00

Pros: Fun to drive, quick acceleration, great MPG when B roading

Cons: High price, suspension not firm enough, XDS system feels unnatural, gearbox shift could be shorter and more mechanical


Engine: 1798cc

Cylinders: 4

Power: 190bhp

Torque: 236lb/ft

Transmission: 6 speed manual

Acceleration: 6.7sec

Top Speed: 146mph

Fuel: 35mpg

CO2: 129g/km

Road Tax: D

Release Date: 2015-01-01

Verdict: Good fun but definitely a warm hatch.

Staring face to face: 2017 VW Mk6 Polo GTI

If you have been following my YouTube channel recently, you'll know that I have been test driving some pretty serious cars. A couple of weekends ago I did the BMW M2, last weekend it was the Porsche Cayman GTS and this coming weekend it is the BMW M4 (weather permitting) and Audi RS5 (to be confirmed!). Following these will be the Jaguar F-type, Porsche 911 turbo and the Ford Mustang!

Now it's all well and good reviewing higher end performance cars, but what about the lower end of the scale? There are some pretty exciting cars in the 15-25k sector and so I have decided to film several test drive videos covering them, starting with the Mk6 Volkswagen Polo GTI.

The looks of the VW Polo GTI I have to say I really like. The front of the car looks aggressive and sporty. With full LED lights and the GTI red stripe carrying on through the headlamp (just as it does with the Mk7 VW Golf GTI), no one can argue that this car isn't trying to say something about its "hot hatch" personality and I like that.

Moving to the side of the car, it is again a good looking car. I'd say that the 3door Mk7 Golf GTI and Mk7 Golf R are better looking than this car, but this Mk6 Polo GTI certainly looks good enough where I'd be happy with it. I really like the look of the wheels too, which pictured, come standard with this car.

The rear of the car is quite good looking too, slender, not aggressive in anyway, reminding us that it is "just a Polo" even if it does have the GTI badge. The only tell tale sign of any sporty performance from this view is the chrome exhaust, as there is no rear diffuser on this car nor is there any exciting rear spoiler setup. The interior of the car is similar to that of the Mk7 Golf R so all I will say here is that it is a classy cabin with a good quality feel and finish.

So with the looks dealt with, how does the car actually feel when driven? Refinement is excellent, where pottering about at 30-50mph is quiet and pleasant. 70mph also didn't expose any unpleasant wind or tyre noise. I managed to have a good conversation with the owner without being unable to hear what he was saying. So, as you'd expect it does the job of being a Polo very well. The steering is light too, which will be down to the fact this is a smaller car and I like that.

The feeling you get as soon as you sit in the car while its parked is that of a small, sporty hatch back. This feeling is carried on through the entire driving experience too, where when driving at speed on a B road, you feel as though you are driving faster than you actually are.

I found hitting the B roads in the car a fun experience. For the first time in a very long time I experienced a bit of under steer, which made me smile. The acceleration of the car is pretty fun too, where power delivery feels good throughout the rev range and you soon reach the 60mph mark. The sprint to 62mph figures suggest a time of 6.7seconds but it somehow feels faster than this.

A couple of things held me back from really testing this cars full potential though:

  1. Firstly the suspension felt too soft for my liking. There was a bit of bounce and roll at speed which made me drive with caution. In my opinion it is silly selling a GTI with suspension as soft as this.
  2. Secondly the XDS system gave me some strange steering wheel feedback when accelerating at speed. This again set warning signals off in my brain causing me to steady up off the gas. Although this was cured a bit by putting the traction into sport mode.

During the whole test drive which included a bit of dual carriageway, B road sprinting and village driving the car showed that we averaged 35mpg. That is very impressive to say the least!

I like this car. Its charming, comfortable, quiet and is capable of putting smiles on your face when you feel like it. However, it is always quiet (even when driven hard), the suspension setup isn't great and I don't like the XDS system. I also think that £18k is too steep of an asking price. So with this in mind I give it 3.5 out of 5 and class it as being a warm hatch back. Next up is Fords new Fiesta ST!