Balance. It’s a popular word in the car world, and one that symbolises all that is Volkswagen. They know how to make a car to an impressive standard, and the 2022 Polo GTI is no different.
It’s the car that can be an everyday commuter, back road bandit or track day star, whenever you need it to be. Take the trip to work for example. We were impressed with how comfortable and quiet it is in heavy traffic.
Those big 18-inch wheels and Continental tyres do mean you need to avoid Sydney’s famous potholes, but the ride is super comfy regardless. The 2.0-litre turbocharged TSI engine has plenty of low-end torque, and never feels like it’s working hard.
Even on the freeway, with the 6-speed DSG gearbox on board, the little Polo just motors along. It’s no slouch though, with 147kW of power and 320Nm of torque on tap, and can sling its way to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds.
Fuel economy is a very reasonable 6.5-litres/100km, and it’s actually easy to get the Polo below this if you’re in Eco mode. That does require you to drive sensibly though. Given the GTI moniker appears in this car’s name, that’s not necessarily that easy.
The Polo has four drive modes, with the other three being Normal, Sport and Individual. Eco is the mode to be in if you don’t need power on tap. The throttle response is sedate, gear changes are short and it will even take itself out of gear to save on fuel.
It’s an impressive thing to say the least. Normal mode was close to Eco, with a little more aggression to its nature. Sport mode changes the game, the suspension stiffens up. The exhaust opens, the gearbox mapping changes and the throttle response is very angry.
In a nutshell, this is Pocket Rocket mode, and it’s engaged! Individual is designed for you to set up the car just how you want it. It’s a nice to have but Eco and Sport are pretty much all you need to either drive sensibly, or go crazy.
We decided the latter was a good idea, and threw the Polo GTI into Sport mode, and hit some seriously twisty roads outside of Sydney. The car feels like a missile thanks to its open throaty exhaust, and a bucketload of mid-range torque.
The suspension is rigid, making the Polo feel like its soul belongs in the bends. It’s hooked up when you need it, and always feels planted on the road. It’s super fun on the back road runs, and the theatre it delivers means it doesn’t actually need to be fast.
For when you take it next level and hit the track, there’s launch control too, letting you hold 2,000rpm and slingshot off the line. It’s a take off that will guarantee a smile, and have you grinning from ear to ear.
The brakes are huge overkill and that’s not a bad thing by any means. These things are always ready to stop you, and do it in the fastest way possible. They take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel blessed to have them at your disposal.
And because this car is front wheel drive, the front brakes score some small ducts under the front bumper to keep them cool when you’re putting down your best track day times.
Inside, our test vehicle was fitted with the must have Sound & Tech package, which adds Discover Pro infotainment with satellite navigation, voice control, a Beats premium audio system, Digital Cockpit Pro and most importantly, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s also cord free phone charging. The whole setup is worth every additional penny of the $1500 add-on. The sound system is so crisp, and the bass feels like it’s pumping through every seat.
It’s so good it will force you to choose between your favourite tracks and the sweet sound of the exhaust, opened right up. First world choices we know, but tough decisions none-the-less. For the size of the Polo, it’s surprisingly spacious too.
The first comment from anyone in the back seats was just how much room there is, while the front seats are nicely setup to hug you in the corners, with super plush headrests for when the Polo throws you back in your seat at launch.
The boot capacity is 305-litres, which may not sound like much, but on our big shop for the weekend, there was plenty of room. The steering wheel is nicely shaped, and feels sporty and solid in your hands.
The shifter is nicely lengthened for someone who wants to use it as a stick, and the infotainment system is nicely angled towards the driver. The digital cluster offers a raft of customisation options and does house a lap timer (as it should).
Overall, this Polo hot hatch offers many things. It’s that magic formula of a daily commuter, that can handle a track day like it’s nothing. The GTI badge ensures it’s much more a driver’s car than most will expect too.
Its ability to thrill while not needing to have a sub five second 100km/h sprint time, and its affordable price, make it something truly special. With numbers similar to the go-fast version of the MX-5, or a BRZ, it has the added bonus of usable back seats too.
The 2022 Volkswagen Polo GTI, with the Sound & Tech package, will set you back around $45,577 drive away. It can be had in Pure White, Kings Red Premium Metallic (as tested), Reef Blue Metallic, Smokey Grey Metallic and Deep Black Pearl Effect.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volkswagen Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Volkswagen Polo GTI, talk to your local Volkswagen dealer.