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You could blame the 2010 launch of the Volkswagen Polo GTI for the ongoing shift away from manual-transmission-equipped hot hatches to dual-clutch automatics.
There’s a case to argue that it’s all going the wrong way – that properly cooked hot hatches such as the Polo GTI should be sold with a manual and a third pedal, to increase the interaction between car and driver.
But Volkswagen is in the volume-selling game, and simply put, it can a sell more Polo GTIs (and Golfs) with dual clutch automatics (dubbed Direct Shift Gearbox, or DSG, by the maker) than manual-only versions. Renault has followed suit with its new-generation Clio RS for the same reason.
But the move away from the traditional manual gearbox to a quick-shifting dual-clutch actually helps the Polo GTI’s performance. It’s the quickest car in its class, able to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 6.9 seconds. For $27, 790 for the three door, and $28, 990 for the five door, it remains the cheapest way to go that fast for less than $30K.
Rival hatches such as Mini Cooper S, Opel OPC Corsa and the all-new Clio RS all need 7.2 seconds to hit the 100km/h mark.
The Polo GTI’s relatively meagre 1.4-litre displacement makes it the smallest engine in the class, with the above-mentioned competitors utilising 1.6-litre engines. This seeming discrepancy is allayed by the Polo GTI’s use of forced induction – multiplied by two.
With the help of both a supercharger (which boosts the engine up to 3000rpm) and a turbocharger (that takes the reigns from thereafter), along with direct injection, the Polo GTI sends an impressive 132kW of power and 250Nm of torque (the latter delivered from 2000 to 4500rpm) to the front wheels.
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