Volkswagen‘s been on a roll with hot hatches lately; the Scirocco, Golf GTI MKVI and Golf R are all fine performance cars that the common man can buy, but as the cars balloon in size, equipment and power, they become further and further removed from their ancestor, the tossable, no-frills MKI GTI.
The car that will inevitably draw comparisons to the MK1 is Volkswagens new Polo GTI, officially announced today, despite being shown at Geneva in March. The MK1 GTI weighed 1830 lbs, a little less than a Lotus Elise, hit 60 mph in just under 9 seconds and put out 110 horsepower from a 1.6L naturally aspirated four cylinder engine.
Today’s Polo GTI, which technically slots in below the Golf, weighs 2632 lbs, pumps out 170 horsepower from a 1.4L four cylinder engine with both a turbocharger and a supercharger and uses a twin-clutch 7-speed gearbox(!) to propel the Polo GTI to 60 in 6.9 seconds while returning a combined 39.9 mpg.
Before the inevitable judgements surface about how the Polo GTI is heavy, too laden with technology and has little in common with the spirit of the original, featherweight GTI, consider the following.
In the mid 1970′s, when the MK1 GTI was released, the dual clutch gearbox was being developed for use in the Porsche 962 LeMans car (and didn’t even appear until the mid 1980s), twincharging was still years away in the Lancia Delta S4 rally car, 40 mpg was the domain of dreadfully slow econoboxes and the premium interiors and build quality of the Polo just didn’t exist. Do I have to mention how far braking and crash safety has come in those few decades?
The Polo GTI packs the kind of technology once available to only the most advanced race cars, and creature comforts of a much more expensive car for relatively little money, not to mention represents a quantum leap in quantitative performance over the MK1 To paraphrase the comedian Louis C.K., this car is amazing and nobody is happy. The fact that this sort of equipment has trickled down into an everyman hot hatch really is a miracle.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Polo GTI
Hit the jump to read the official Volkswagen press release.