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2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI boosts up with 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 197 hp

To make room for the brand new up! GTI below, the 20-year-old Volkswagen PoloGTI joins the two-liter club and gets a power boost for 2018; its direct-injected, 2.0-liter four-cylinder pumps out 197 horsepower, an eight-horse jump over the previous model, and 236 pound-feet of torque. The output numbers have more punch in the round units of Euro-speak, where the new Polo can brag of 200 PS and 320 Newton-meters. On the go, that means a 6.7-second sprint to 100 km/h, and a 237 km/h (147 mph) top speed. Buyers who can’t wait will have to settle for a six-speed DSG transmission, those with a touch of patience might want to wait for the six-speed manual coming next year.

A standard sport suspension — a step up from the standard Polo suspension — keeps that moxie behaved by lowering the body 15 millimeters, retuning the springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars, and adding VW’s XDS locking differential. An optional Sport Select suspension throws active dampers into the equation, damper behavior changed by choosing the Normal or Sport driving mode.

All the visual cues of the GTI family remain: the honeycomb grille with red stripe, GTI badges everywhere, red brake calipers, “Clark” plaid seat inserts, black, red, and chrome accents throughout. The lower front bumper gets a tweaked lower intake with gloss black inserts, while LED taillights and a black, two-piece spoiler make the most noise in back. This newest model includes air conditioning and white ambient lighting as standard, and a new 17-inch wheel design is joined by a first-time-ever 18-inch wheel option.

The new Polo — in all trims — gets the honor of introducing VW’s latest 10.25-inch Active Info Display digital dash cluster. The electronic gauges get better pixel density, brightness, contrast, can be arranged in three layouts, and are color-keyed depending on the trim. The GTI’s color scheme rocks a lot of black, white, and red.

With a new U.S.-market Golf GTI starting at $ 25,595, we could find plenty of room in our hearts for a Polo GTI hot hatch plastered with a kinder price. If only we could convince more of our countrymen to do the same.

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