VW Polo GTI Preview – A quick Out Lap at Buddh Circuit
We recently got to drive the VW Polo 6C GTI at Buddh International Circuit for a short Preview Out Lap during the Asia Road Racing Championship 2016. The car I drove was doing the duty of the Safety Car for the Races. The lap was a quick short lap with one instructor (Rayo) and 2 passengers.
With Rayo warning me of the tires being worn out, and a car full of passengers (Rayo and 2 more) I entered turn 1 out of the pits at about 90kmph. There was a hint of body roll and then the front suspension loaded up the trick electronic differential (XDS) locked in and just took the car thru the corner. Unlike the Polo GT TSI’s which shares the same XDS Brake differential too, you could feel this one working. I’m sure the bigger brakes that come on the GTI had a lot to do with the effectiveness of this system. Accelerating out of turn two you could surely say ‘WOW.. this car has PULL’. Till the top of the hill at Turn 3 I was at 130kmph, which is serious quick.
Going into the blind hairpin at Turn 3 was pretty rewarding. Considering in the Polo GT TSI your a bit careful thru here as there is no weight on the front axle thanks to the feather weight engine, but in the GTI the weight of the 1.8TSI block was a welcome change. It gave the car the balance that is so desperately needed in the GT TSI.
The Gen 3 1.8TSI combined with the 7 Speed DSG does a good job of making this car a lot quicker that it would be with a manual box, and its evident more than ever in the back straight. While having a chat with Rayo about the XDS system my eyes glanced at the speedo and it was heading north of 170 at somewhere on the track that the GT TSI would be struggling to cross 110kmph. This Car is seriously QUICK. By the end of the back straight I was at ~200kmph when I had to brake as my passengers were getting a little nervous seeing the kerbs come up and no signs of braking.
Power? Yup its got a lot of it! 189hp and 250NM if the figures are to be believed..
Turn 4 is where the chassis dynamics and weight distribution of a car show up as ur turning and trail braking to keep the car from under-steering. A Polo GT TSI here would have to constantly trail brake due to the light front end, where as the Polo GTI was fully loaded up in front, so you can just turn the car in and point and shoot out of the apex without feeling much under-steer. The weight up front also helps with the balance coming out of a tight corner that allows you to get on the gas a lot faster than you would do in the GT TSI.
Turn 8 and Turn 9 are the true test of a car’s balance. If you have balls and can place the car right at the entry of Turn 8, you can actually go thru the turn without lifting off. Try doing this in the GT TSI and you will end up under-steering into the astro turf at the exit of Turn 9. However in the GTI the there is just a hint of tire squeal as you enter Turn 9 and a little correction of throttle and steering input and ur holding the racing line at a speed that would be unthinkable in a GTI TSI. What is also impressive is that you can feel the rear end step out a little forcing u to correct the exit line. Now that is how a hot hatch should drive!
By now my instructor was getting a little nervous so I decided to back off a bit.
The steering feel sadly remains numb like the GT TSI and the Octavia with which the car shares the EPS rack and steering ratio. However the suspension being stiffer and more weight to the steering that takes a bit of the guess work required to judge front grip in most VAG EPS cars.
I honestly cant wait for this car to come out into the market in its 3 door guise which is a bit lighter than the 4 door variant I drove. I also wish I could have had a bit more seat time in it, minus the passengers so I could have thrown it around a bit more. Anyhow that day hopefully will come soon. Till then, I can only dream of it. For VW, you guys have a winning product here. Seriously opens up a new segment in India that was kick started by the VW Polo GT twins and Updated to a new level by the Fiat Punto Abarth. Just pray that VW keeps the pricing sensible. Ideally this should be priced just under the Octavia TSI which shares the same engine/gearbox but packs in a whole segment above and is also 4 door sedan.
Oh and one last thing. The car I drove was a CBU, and the build quality is incredible. The quality of material in use is next level and makes the GT TSI feel like a Tata Indica. Serious difference in touch and feel and how the entire car is put together.
Also in the interest of full disclosure: The car was outfitted with MRF Wet Slicks, and even though they were worn out with a 3 full days of Anmol hooning around and safety car running, they provided much more grip than your street sports tire would. These tires were about at par with PZero’s if not a bit better in their worn out state.
The car also had SEAT Cupra Sport 4 Piston front brake kit that are WONDERFUL! The GTI you will get at the dealership will most likely come with the Octavia’s 288 0r 318mm brakes which are not bad at all but the response of a fixed caliper multi piston brake is at a different level.