We’d forgive you if the existence of the Volkswagen Polo GTI had somewhat slipped your mind. It occupies a place in what’s unofficially ‘the Fiesta ST class’, Ford’s pugnacious little hot hatch steamrollering its rivals with such consistency, even quick MINIs have wandered ever further off our radar. The thoroughly excellent Hyundai i20N has forged the only convincing attack on the littlest Fast Ford’s reign in recent years.

The Polo has been facelifted, however,  perhaps purely to remind us of its presence. And almost as if to immediately rule itself out of running with either the Fiesta or i20, it comes solely with a mature 7spd DSG auto gearbox – something neither Ford nor Hyundai even bothers putting on the options list.

It’s the grown-up choice, then, though on power alone it goes toe-to-toe with its fiercer foes. A 206hp peak is on par for the class – a couple of horsepower over, in fact – while its 6.5-second 0-100km/h time matches the ST and tucks just behind the N.

Naturally the Polo isn’t about traffic light heroics, rather slinking into a subtler way of life. So while the GTI rides 15mm lower than a regular Polo and gets limited-slip diff mimicking XDS software to manage traction at its front axle, most buyers are likely to be significantly more interested in its tartan trim and 800w Beats audio. The less said about the touch-sensitive pads on its steering wheel – borrowed from the Mk8 Golf GTI – the better.

And if you’re muttering ‘since when did little hatchbacks cost so much?!’ with a pained expression, then congratulations! You are officially old and haggard enough to close down the baby blue i20N configurator tab and order one of these instead.

Will you?

STORY Stephen Dobie

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