It's part of a now-dead segment in the United States.
Hatchbacks are not very popular in the United States. In fact, the Volkswagen Golf, Europe's best-selling car, is no longer offered here unless it's in GTI or R form. The eighth-generation 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is almost ready to land stateside and based on our initial driving impressions, it was worth the wait. But before the Mk8 Golf makes its long-awaited return, VW just showed off another GTI-badged hot hatchback to make Americans jealous once again.
After showing off the new Polo earlier this year, VW finally pulled the wraps off the sporty Polo GTI. This new sub-compact hot-hatch offers similar thrills as the Golf GTI, but in a smaller, more affordable package. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 204 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. That's down from the Golf GTI's 241 hp and 273 lb-ft.
The Polo GTI sends its power to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission; VW hasn't specified if a manual transmission is available. 0-60 mph takes 6.5 seconds, which is on par with the Ford Fiesta ST model that we don't get in America. In fact, the US no longer receives any cars in the subcompact hot hatchback segment now that the Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth are gone. Tiny hot hatches like the Audi S1, Hyundai i20 N, Peugeot 208 GTI, and Renault Sport Clio remain forbidden fruit.
It's a shame we don't get cars like this because they are lots of fun to drive. VW upgraded the Polo GTI with a sports chassis, which lowers the car by 15 millimeters. The exterior looks more aggressive with 17-inch (or optional 18-inch) wheels, honeycomb grille, and classic GTI red accents. Every Polo GTI comes standard with IQ.Light LED matrix headlights with an illuminated radiator grille bar. At the back, the taillights feature new braking and turning animations with flowing light movements.
Buyers can select from five exterior colors, including Deep Black Pearl Effect, Smoke Grey Metallic, Kings Red Metallic, Pure White Uni, and Reef Blue Metallic. A contrasting black roof is available optionally. Inside, the Polo GTI's cabin combines black, red, grey, and chrome for a futuristic/retro combination. We love the retro-themed plaid seats and the modern red dashboard accents.
In terms of technology, the Polo packs a standard eight-inch touchscreen with an optional beats sound system, 10.25-inch digital cockpit, and an IQ.Drive Travel Assist function that can take over the steering, braking, and acceleration so long as it detects the driver's hands on the wheel. VW has no plans to offer the Polo GTI in the US.