For some reason VW's latest had slipped under the Adcock radar, so it is, perhaps, appropriate that I have spent the best part of today hammering round the Cotswolds in the silver model pictured here.
Why? Because the original Golf GTi, the car that defined the term `hot hatch', was launched 35 years ago and the Polo is more akin to that than the current Golf GTi.
Like the original hot Escorts from Ford that created a new trend, so did the Golf. I vividly recall my Mk ll 16-valve GTi I drove to Le Mans a few weeks after delivery for two reasons: it's performance on the sinuous route nationale was revelatory as was its thirst for Mr Castrol's GTX, or whatever premium oil I was constantly filling it with – it was thirstier than a camel after crossing the Sahara. But overall those early Golfs were light, nimble and for their time rapid.
Fast forward three and a half decades and the imposition of safety structures, a propensity for electrifying everything from door mirrors to seat squabs, has added weight to cars faster than a burger only diet to the weak willed.
As a consequence the Polo GTi is now the new Golf GTi – and what a great little car it is. All the basic ingredients are there: 177 bhp at 6200, although the redline is at an ear-tingling 7000; 184 lb.-ft. of torque from 2000 to 4500; 142 mph top speed and zero to 62 in 6.9 seconds, a slick seven-speed DSG with paddle shift.
The only option on the car I drove was the $714 silver paint job, otherwise it comes with all its goodies for $31,600. Good value? Well, considering that VW usually builds pretty bullet proof car, yes.
But it's on the road where you start to really appreciate the car's abilities. The engine's flexibility, look at that spread of torque, really comes into its own: you can allow the DSG to do its own thing in either `Driver' or `Sport' mode or let the engine rev to its red line before flicking the paddles up to the next ratio or using them to bring the engine revs down as you brake hard and late into the next bend. All this accompanied by an engine note that will have you turn off your favorite music.
Even on today's bone dry roads the numerous electronic angels' warning lights, such as the Electronic Stabilization Program and Traction Control, were lit up like St Elmo's fire.
The Polo can be pushed and pushed until the inevitability of front-wheel drive dynamics come into play with the laws of gravity, or a sense of self preservation, take over. It is a dartingly quick, smirk inducing car to drive.
And, honestly officer I never thought I was going that fast...